5 Reasons why “Pura Vida” is the Costa Rican answer to everything

Sometime back in 4th grade Spanish class, I learned that the appropriate response to the question “Como estas?” could be something along the lines of “bien” or “estoy feliz.” This turns out not to be the case in Costa Rica, where the appropriate response to the same question is “Pura vida.” Yes, when you ask people in Costa Rica what’s up how ya doin’ you’ll get “pura vida.” Wikipedia explains for us that “pura vida” means: “Pura vida literally means Pura = pure and vida = life, but “Pure life” in Spanish would be “Vida pura” instead, so the real meaning is closer to “plenty of life”, “full of life”, “this is living!”, “going great”, “real living”, or “cool!”[1] It can be used both as a greeting and a farewell, to express satisfaction, to politely express indifference when describing something [1] or even to say “thank you”. The phrase has become widely known; this highly flexible statement has been used by many Costa Ricans (and expatriates) since 1956.[2]”

I saw five views that helped to elucidate for me why they “pura vida” everything there:

1) Rio Celeste up in Tenorio Volcano National Park. The river is “blue like the sky” because of a chemical reaction going on with sulphur.

2) Volcanoes. Everywhere I went in Costa Rica I felt like I was checking out yet another awesome volcano. Among my favorites were Volcan Arenal (up in La Fortuna):

And Volcan Poas, just a few minutes north of the San Jose airport:

3) Cascadas everywhere. This one, Pacifica falls, was just up the road from Mt. Chirripo, Costa Rica’s highest peak, in the Cloudbridge Nature Reserve.

4) Rainbows at my friends’ house in San Miguel de Sarapiqui through the trees:

5) Beaches in national parks (this one is in Cahuita National Park).

Even the puppies down the beach at Playa Uvita near Puerto Viejo de Talamanca know it’s “pura vida:”

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2 Comments on “5 Reasons why “Pura Vida” is the Costa Rican answer to everything”

  1. Karen July 31, 2011 at 16:32 #

    I have to visit the next time we go to Nica!

  2. Victor Hugo Carvajal Rivera September 8, 2011 at 01:38 #

    Hi Marisa, very good post about Pura Vida 😀 … que disfrutes Costa Rica!

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