Pura Vida! in Costa Rica

Every once a while, you go through experiences that are so rich, abundant with life , that it seems vain to try and describe them. Living through the days of vacation in the country of Costa Rica was one such experience for me.

I made several little drafts – futile attempts at capturing moments in words to portray here. Deleted them all and finally made one last honest one, with some pictures to speak for me instead.

So, here is what Costa Rica felt like, in my humble perspective.

Looks:

The first feel of the land was warm and humid. Then, the cool breeze swooped across from the green surroundings. The green, in fact, manifested itself in a thousand ways – trees, leaves, lichen, grass, bushes, creepers.. Except for the width of the road we travelled, every single inch of the ground beyond was enveloped by gorgeous shades of green.

The rainforests bloom in full glory and made us feel miniscule in comparison.

The Monte Verde cloud forests stood high and yet perennially hidden behind the foggy layer of clouds.

The beaches are bright and beauteous, secluded and yet so lively!

People:

If a country represents the people in it, I would like to be best friends with Costa Rica. In comparison with any other country I have visited, the people here are downright awesome! Very friendly, helpful, kind and caring. And yes, patriotic! Here are a few instances to sample:

We enter a store to find a big ball for Paapu. The store keeper kindly says there are no big ones, but only small ones. We turn back after a ‘No, thanks’ when he stops us to gift a little ball to Paapu , “No, no, keep it please. For her’. Paapu smiles with delight and is freins with him – just like that. Who does that these days?

I am shopping for my B’day dress and find a beautiful one. In all excitement, I announce to the shopkeeper lady -“This is my B’day dress!”. “Oh, wow!”, she squeals in delight and takes out a little Costa Rican memorabilia, “take this, a B’day gift from us!”. I am left speechless and humbled.

We befriend people travelling along within the country and ask -“Are you from here?”. Each and every one who were asked say, “Yes, yes. I am from here and I love it!”. Not a single exception to this answer, including the ‘love it!’ part. Who says that these days?

No wonder Costa Rica is named under One of the most Happiest Countries in the world. GDP and all its cousins be damned. Happiness is all that matters and we witnessed that first hand. The whole of 10 days there, we never spotted one single soul who looked sad or bored. Even old ladies with no teeth and a broken umbrella walking in a lonely road on a rainy night flashed big smiles and waved joyously at us as if they were walking in a street fair! Am totally bowled over by their happy demeanor and hope it continues to remain so for ages to come. * Touch wood *

Food :

Being a Spanish country, the food was preliminarily Spanish – rice, beans and meat to go with. But, their meals seemed like one of the most wholesome in comparison. Take a look at a typical plate of meal in Costa Rica:

Rice, beans, veggies, meat, eggs, cheese with a side of spicy sauce and always accompanied by a fruit drink – pineapple, watermelon, mango or mix of all 3.

Banana is such an important part of their diet – they fry it golden brown and have it piping hot any time of the day- breakfast , lunch or dinner. Yummmm.

The only thing I sorely missed during the entire stay was yogurt. Although we bought it separately at stores, it never made way intoΒ  those delicious meals they served in restaurants.

Wildlife:

With 50% of the land covered in tropical rainforests, Costa Rica is home for an astounding array of wildlife – including 1239 varieties of butterflies and equally varied varieties of birds. We were lucky to spot many of the common ones and few of the rare ones too.

Β 

Government:

For a country which is ranked one of the most happiest in the world, the Government must be doing something right. Right? Turns out absolutely true.

The Government does its part by imposing the rules and maintaining the infrastructure, while the citizens do their part abiding by the rules and helping keep their land nice and clean. Other than the trash bags stashed away for pick up, I never saw one stray plastic bag or paper strewn carelessly. The roads were smooth and the public parks were neat.

However, one thing that struck the most was their Eco-tourism. Every nook and corner has recycle bins ( separately segregated for plastic, paper and bottle), and people sincerely believe that is the way to go.Β  The Government supports sustainable growth on one hand while protecting their forests on the other. A win-win , if you ask me.

Speaking of Government, I remember reading a board right outside the airport-” Underage sex is illegal in Costa Rica. If you involve in any, we will find you and drag you to jail. For sure.”

Hmm, now, that is what I call Impressive.

My B’day:

For all the hype about being on vacation and celebrating the Birthday ( 30th milestone at that!), the day started pretty dull. We were on the road driving towards another town and ended up reaching pretty late in the evening. It was very cloudy and heavily drizzling and I was trying hard to keep spirits high. The place we checked-in was beautiful, but seemed so remote and silent. I missed friends, family and all the celebrative sounds a B’day usually entails. The hubby was in a grouchy mood after all the driving while I struggled to keep my cool too.

But, B’days do have a way to make you spring up with excitement on short notice. It happened to me when I got all dressed up and walked into this restaurant called “Tree House” for dinner. As the name suggests, the place is built around the branches of a huge tree! There was live music, very peppy atmosphere, happy people and some real good cocktails! I was in that elated state where you are drunk, but much in control..totally enjoying every bit of it! Paapu was a rock star and attracted much attention by demonstrating her dance skills right in front of the live musicians πŸ˜€

Forget the day, but the night was lovely..and I like to think I did well to deserve that on my Birthday anyway πŸ™‚

Activities:

Apart from the hiking , butterfly gardens, hummingbird watching and wildlife safaris, there are numerous adventurous activities that the place has to offer for people willing to take the risk. But, hell the risks are all well worth it!

I went zip lining across the magnificent rainforests…screaming in delight and pretend acting like lady Tarzan πŸ˜‰

The hubby went waterfall rappelling, climbing down a 100 feet rock with water gushing down upon him with full force.

We snorkeled in the pacific ocean and swam along those pretty little school of fish.

Hiked up the volcanic mountain of Arenal.

Bathed in the natural warm water springs on a dim lit night.

Took leisurely strolls in public parks and played silly games near the fountain.

Generally time passed on the green grass

Smiled and hugged a lot.

“Pura Vida” means “Pure Life” – a commonΒ greetingΒ but very heartily used in Costa Rica. For the brief time we spent there, we lived it..and sincerelyΒ loved it.

Pure Life indeed.

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40 Responses to Pura Vida! in Costa Rica

  1. Wish you guys such awesome trips and more for all the birthdays, anniversaries, new years, celebrations, graduations and more πŸ˜€

    Beeeg touchwood πŸ˜€

  2. omg! the pictures are priceless! I’m always in awe of you guys because you do things that you enjoy with Paapu on your back πŸ™‚ I mean, that’s how you should live life!

    the place sure seems like paradise! I wanna go now !!

    • Thank you SnS. compliments on living life and all..wow, thats a first ! Thanks muchos πŸ˜€

      It definitely feels like paradise too. Plan the next trip there. Much affordable too.

  3. revsjoiedevivre says:

    What a booooootttyyyyy!

    And hmph, why you no add MY special pic woman? 😐

  4. A-kay says:

    Looks like Costa Rica is the toast of the season, I know few other friends who have gone to Costa Rica this summer πŸ™‚

    One of my ex-neighbors was from Costa Rica and she, pretty much, mirrored what you said about the people. She was such a fun loving, simple person and was glad she crossed my path.

  5. Kunal says:

    What a gorgeous place it looks from the photos and your descriptions.

    Awesome πŸ™‚

    Would definitely go there…

  6. R's Mom says:

    Wow…AHK..firstly belated happy birthday πŸ™‚

    and you went to Costa Rica…WOWOWOW! super wow…I cant believe people there are so generous..and lol on GDP and its cousins be damned…seriously be damned..whats the big point of having the worlds best GDP when you dont even enjoy it πŸ™‚

    Lovely write up and super nice pics πŸ™‚ thanks..it definitely made my weekend start with a bang..

  7. Sooo so jealous!

    But yay, these are want birthdays should be made of.. fun, family & vacays πŸ™‚

    By the way, I sent you an sms for ur birthday, did u recieve it? πŸ˜›

  8. Beautiful beautiful pics! Loved them all!

    Wishing you many more happy milestones in happy places!

  9. Bikram says:

    woooh oooooo beautiful place πŸ™‚ looks like you had fun .. Sea beach and fooood yummmyyyyyyy

  10. La Vida Loca says:

    well worth the wait this post. Superu!!!!!
    more happy travels my friend!

  11. Roop Rai says:

    your blog always lifts my spirits!! loved the photos. loved the narration even more. wish you many more such trips, and i can’t believe you did all of this with a baby in tow. so proud of you!!

  12. Roop Rai says:

    n yes happpppy birrday!! πŸ™‚

  13. Pepper says:

    Sigh.. What a wonderful account. Thank you for encouraging me to plan a trip there πŸ˜€

  14. Sujatha says:

    That’s a great trip you had… Zipline-Looks pretty scary but cool πŸ™‚

    Belated Happy Birthday AHK!

    Sujatha

  15. Anu says:

    Wow! looks like you guys had a fab time out there!! Am so glad for you… and that zip-line thingy looks totally scary but adrenaline-pumping at the same time! And paapu as usual is the rock-star! πŸ˜€
    Hope you have many more happy celebrations of this kind! πŸ™‚

  16. Waw I am a travel freak and you described the country beautifully and perfect that anyone would instantly fall in love with this place. I know where I want to go for my next big vacation. This is where we went for my birthday.
    http://weourlife.wordpress.com/2011/05/09/mexico-trip-part1/

    zip lining is something in my to do list for a while now, I hope I get to do it before I turn old πŸ™‚ Paapu is super cute in those pictures and I hope she enjoyed the trip as much as you did..

    • Great to know you love travel as much as we do. Glad you liked the description and brought out the right feeling – to fall in love with the country πŸ™‚

      Definitely keep this one in your travel plans next. Your B’day destination seems superb! Going to read it now.

  17. Pesto Sauce says:

    Costa Rica sounds awesome….its a place not visited by many I guess but your experience there makes a compelling reason to plan now

  18. chandnini says:

    I can’t stop drooling over the pictures!

  19. Mayborngemini says:

    wow awesome pics, great narration too.even I am amazed that you did all those fun things with Paapu ……

  20. Kay says:

    Wow beautiful description. It will be my next destination definitely. What did you do with pappu when u went under water or zip lining? I have a 3 mo old myself, so wondering.


    Me : Thank you Kay and welcome here πŸ™‚ We took turns to be with Paapu while the other went about doing his/her adventure. So hubby had her while I was ziplining.
    Three month old uh? I think you should still go..in fact it might be easier since the baby isn’t mobile yet

  21. Uma says:

    Hey,

    Longtime reader delurking. Planning a trip to Costa Rica with a 4 yr old. Wanted to know the places you guys visited and the # of days you went. We are planning a 6 day trip and want to do Arenal and Manuel Antonio or Tortugeuro.

    Did you guys drive by yourself to Monteverde. Read reviews online that drive is difficult. So any advice would be much appreciated.

    • Hi Uma,

      Thanks for delurking! πŸ™‚
      Costa Rica is one of my all-time-favorite vacations and I am glad you are planning to trip there.
      We visited 3 places – Arenal, Monte Verde and Manual Antonio in that order. Booked our plans through http://www.anywherecostarica.com/. They were very good at helping s plan and organize.
      Yes, the drove to MonteVerde and it was not comfortable..what with unpaved mud roads for hours and a kid along. I would avoid driving and go by other means if possible.
      Here’s wishing you an awesome vacation!

      • Uma says:

        Thanks a lot for getting back. I will check the link you have provided. Thanks
        Uma

      • Uma says:

        Hey,

        I wanted to let you know we came back after a wonderful trip last week. My son can get really difficult in airports. Other than that we had a beautiful time. Thanks for your post. If not for it, the dream to visit CR would have never started.

        Best
        Uma

      • I am so very happy you guys did it!! This marks the 5th couple who made the decision based on my ( and husbands’) recommendation πŸ™‚

        Like us, you must have loved it too. make sure to pas on the good review for others who are looking to travel and only think of most popular destinations.

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