Even the Howler Monkey’s are “Pura Vida’ in Costa Rica

Costa Rica travel is “Pura Vida”

From the minute you meet the lovely people of Costa Rica, you are introduced to the concept of “Pura Vida,” the national motto. Literally, “Pura Vida” means “pure life,” but this simple phrase is used in many different ways.

As a description, it defines the laid-back easy-going manner of the Ticos, as the Costa Ricans like to be called. According to Worldometers, Costa Rica is a country of nearly 5 million people. Most of the population, more than three-quarters of it, live in San Jose and the surrounding towns of the capital city. With most of tourists arriving here in the Juan Santamaria International Airport of San Jose, many of them spend at least a day here before embarking outward to the jungles, mountains or beaches. That means interactions with the urbanites, who either work in the mall shops, movie theaters, city hotels and area tours and are usually well-educated and sophisticated. And yet, these city Ticos still believe in kindness and service to all the visitors they encounter. Magnify that spirit outwards, to the rural life of La Fortuna, where Arenal Volcano is located; to the Monteverde cloud forest; the beaches on the Pacific Ocean or Caribbean side of the country; or anywhere else in this country, and the hospitality increases a thousandfold. This cordiality and accommodation, from the tour driver to the service employee, is “Pura Vida.”

“I felt ‘Pura Vida’ the first time I stepped off the plane in Liberia: the sunshine hitting my face, the ocean breezes, the salty air tickling my nose, and the smell of flowers in the air,” explains Dianne Widowski, a Nestle executive from Cleveland. “The people I met, both Tico and non, had a smile on their faces and a brightness in their voices. They seemed genuinely happy! I have found it so easy to meet people in Costa Rica, there seem to be fewer pretenses. So, for me, ‘Pura Vida’ is that happy feeling you have deep inside, that exudes positive energy towards yourself and others.”

In the book called “The Ticos: Culture and Social Change in Costa Rica,” it states that Costa Ricans are so kind that often they will say and do what others ask, putting these other people before themselves just to make these others happy. This is also “Pura Vida.”

Then there’s the verbal meanings, of which there are many. Ticos will also respond to the question, “How are you?” by simple saying “Pura Vida.” This means all is well.

“’Pura Vida’ means everything. ‘Hello,’ ‘It’s okay,’ ‘I’m chillin’,’ reports Tica Stephanie Montoya, who works at Costa Rica Vacations, an in-country travel agency.

Adds Costa Rican Adolfo Morales, Best Western Tamarindo Vista Villas Reservations Manager: “I grew up listening, understanding and using it. As a matter of fact, ‘Pura Vida’ is part of my signature when I send emails.”

The Urban Dictionary, which says the Ticos are “some of the most wonderful people on earth,” calls this phrase “The law of the land in Costa Rica.” With such wonderful meanings, it’s a decree easily followed.