Ideology of ‘Pura Vida’
‘Pura vida’, the literal meaning is pure life, and it’s the motto of Costa Rica. The phrase has multiple meanings such as full life, this is living, going great or real living and can be used both as a greeting or a farewell. It can also be used as an answer expressing things are going well or as a way of giving thanks. It does describe the Ticos, people of Costa Rica, and their way of life accurately. The people of Costa Rica are the nicest people I’ve come across in my travels and in such a beautiful environment they can afford to live the pure and full life, care free at times. They are very welcoming to foreigners, even in the back country away from the tourist areas on the coast. Normally, foreigners are accused of exploiting the country by people outside the tourist areas in most countries. The Ticos are warm at heart and even have a volunteer life guard crew that patrols Playa Espadilla. Majority of these volunteers are local surfers who insure locals and tourists stay safe.
For me, the country can best be described in one word, ‘ADVENTURE’. There are so many expeditions and activities you can do here like hike a volcano, river rafting, zip line, horseback ride, big game fishing and so many more. On my stay here in April 2013, I chose to stay near the town of Quepos since it is so close to so many of these activities, about 90 minutes or less. Between the town and Manuel Antonio National Park is the hotel zone where you can find a variety of accommodations from spectacular 5 star hotels to your typical hostels for backpackers. This is where I stayed and my hotel was well placed, next to the park alongside a cliff. So close, capuchin and squirrel monkeys would freely travel from the park to the hotel through the “tree highway” and could be easily seen passing from my balcony or poolside.
From pool side I also spotted the Jesus Christ Lizard. Appropriately named as the lizard can run so quickly and efficiently it can run on water like Jesus Christ walking on water.
Manuel Antonio National Park is a small amazing park filled with multiple species of animals and can be experienced with less effort since the park is smaller than most. My hotel was only an 8 minute drive away from the entrance of the park and in that short distance we saw a sloth and a rare Potoo bird before even entering the park.
In the park I captured the green iguana thanks to my guide who pointed out most of the animals for me. I don’t think I would have spotted most of the animals I saw without him as the animals are well camouflaged in their environment.
A beautiful humming bid.
As I mentioned on a previous blog, the road I travel is filled with people with a common ideology and friendships can form quickly and easily, Pura Vida. On the way to the Sevegre River, I was picked up by a tour van which included Marie and two of her friends, all from Connecticut. We sat together at breakfast and quickly became friends. On the highway to the river we continued to chat and as we reached the river we met up with a bus load full of other tourist who were rafting the river. We quickly advised the guide we wanted to be in the same raft. He said “of course” and asked “how long have you known each other”. I told him it’s been a long time… since breakfast. We all quickly broke out in laughter.
The Sevegre River was only a class III run at this time with the water level as low as it was and a perfect level for my first white water rafting run. The river becomes class IV – V during the rainy season.
The friendship didn’t stop there as we went bar hopping in Quepos that night and I didn’t see any reasons to be wary on our night out in town. We also visited a roadside bar at the beach and even danced in the street alongside the other party goers before heading back to our hotels. The next day we also met up at Playa Espadilla which was our final time together as their holiday was ending.
Playa Espadilla (pictured above) which is acclaimed by the locals as one of the best in the world but it falls very short in my experiences. Beautiful, but it’s not in my top ten.
Playa Espadilla Sur (above) within Manuel Antonio National Park is a much prettier and pristine beach.
Horseback riding had never been a big part of my life with just one ride in my teen age years on an old nag, so old I think there were buzzards circling over head along the trail waiting for the horse to fall over. The ride in the rain forest seemed like a great time to pick up another experience. Who can pass up a 4 hour roundtrip horseback ride in the rain forest to a water fall with a swim in a secluded pool as the prize. Horseback rides afford you to see the flora and fauna at a quicker pace than hiking through the environment. On our way back to the ranch, we were followed by a hawk that flew above us within 20 feet. Flying back and forth, I assume out of curiosity for about 10 minutes.
An expedition I was also looking forward to was kayaking through the mangrove forest which was a unique experience but extremely humid. This made my GoPro fog up, and unfortunately didn’t capture great pictures or video. The water was a bit cloudy but the guide was able to spot a baby, 3 foot, crocodile as I passed right by it. We, also, experienced heavy head winds on the way back and it made paddling difficult. My arms were burned out.
There seemed to be a waterfall around every bend, if you haven’t noticed from my pictures.
Costa Rica also marked the first time I zip lined. If you’re going to do it, do it big as I zip lined through 11 lines, flying over valleys of primal rainforest, 300 to 400 years old.
A major draw back to visiting Manuel Antonio National Park, for some, is the logistics. You either have to take a five-hour bumpy drive by van over the mountains and through creeks. The only other way to get there from the international airport is by small plane. A twelve seat plane that you would assume could easily be effected by large gusts of wind. I chose the plane since it only took 20 minutes and It really didn’t feel too bad, but my tolerance for fear maybe higher than most.
Costa Rica is truly the land of adventure and warm-hearted people.
My Expedition video log:
white water rafting