Everywhere you walk or explore in Costa Rica you will hear the words, Pura Vida. From the first time you hear it, it becomes more and more frequent until you realize everyone in this little country says it and in many different contexts. You might ask yourself, where does it come from? And why do Costa Ricans use the term Pura Vida so much?
The meaning of Pura Vida
Essentially, the meaning of Pura Vida is Pure Life or simple life. This has a lot to do with the culture of Costa Rica and the attitude of the Ticos. The Costa Rican people tend to be much more relaxed and worry free. There really is no need to worry when you are in paradise. Pura Vida is both a greeting and a goodbye, an answer to the question, “How are you?” and an expression uttered—perhaps shouted—at joyous occasions.
Why do they use it?
With so many nationalities, it’s a bit difficult to generalize about the “Costa Rican people” and what makes them so happy. But one thing that seems to unite the people of Costa Rica is the notion of “Pura Vida”. For Costa Ricans, Pura Vida means enjoying life no matter what your circumstances; it’s a simple appreciation of life and the realization that life is what you make of it.
And if the scientists are correct, this Pura Vida approach to life is working. Not only consistently ranked as one of the happiest populations on the planet, Costa Rica also have one of the longest life expectancies of any country. Their happiness doesn’t go unnoticed by travelers either; visitors to the country often say that the nation’s best asset is its people.
When should you use it?
If you are foreign to Costa Rica it can be a bit awkward to know when to say things at the right time especially if you are just learning Spanish. You can use Pura Vida at almost any time of the day in almost any sentence and most contexts. For example:
- If people greet you are you greet them, you can say Pura Vida.
- When you are met by some misfortune, you can say Pura Vida to avoid any negativity entering your mind or language. (Oh well, too bad)
- If someone asks you how you are, you can say you are Pura Vida. (I’m good)
- If you or someone else is late for an appointment you can simply say, Pura Vida. (Sorry or no worries)
- Someone might use bad language against you and you can make it lose its power by saying Pura Vida (I don’t care)
These are just a few examples and Ticos come up with new ways to incorporate it into sentences all the time. It all depends on the tone of voice, timing and the situation that changes the meaning of Pura Vida.
The Spirit of Pura Vida
Pura Vida is much more than a term. It’s a spirit, a vibe, or an attitude. You see it on t-shirts, hats, posters, graffiti, all over the place. One of the best places to go to experience true Pura Vida is the beach. More specifically, the Nicoya Peninsula. Beach communities like Samara and Nosara will draw you in immediately. Samara has the intoxicating hippie commune vibe while Nosara is the yoga capital of Costa Rica. If you travel to the east and the Province of Limon, you will be met with a different kind of Pura Vida spirit but one just as pure. Here, the Afro-Caribbean culture is far more prevailing and the music as well as delicious food will have you enjoying life almost instantly.
How can you experience this Spirit?
You most certainly can become a part of this way of life in Costa Rica. You will become less stressed, not worry so much and possibly live longer, who knows. If you want that then if is definitely worth paying Costa Rica a visit. Experience the atmosphere around you and warmth of the friendly people. Travel and see the amazing sites that are apart of Costa Ricans everyday lives. Of course, the best way to experience Pura Vida is by living in Costa Rica at least for a while. Enjoy the soothing climate, the friendliness of the people and the slower pace of life. Rent a small place by the beach and relax close to the water and you are bound to get the most out of your stay. If you are only here on vacation, a nice holiday rental rather than a hotel with your own living room, shower and kitchen so you can freely entertain guests and share in the Pura Vida spirit. You most certainly won’t regret it!
All in All, Pura Vida Costa Rica.