There are certain places that draw you to them. The first time I visited Costa Rica seven years ago, I knew it was one of those places. Between the friendly culture, beautiful beaches, tropical climate, and abundant nature, I knew this was the place for me.
Life goes at a much slower pace in Costa Rica. Timing is not as important as it is in the U.S. “Tico time” is an expression used to mean you are a little late to your meeting, to work, or to meet friends…and that’s ok. Stopping to have a conversation with a friend you pass on the street is something you do regardless of whether or not you are in a hurry to get somewhere.
Coming from a culture where multitasking and speed is everything, I found getting used to the laidback and relaxed culture of Costa Rica was a bit of an adjustment. Years later, I can say without a doubt, that making the move was completely worth it to experience what Costa Ricans call pura vida—the pure life.
My daily routine is now anything but chaotic. I wake up to the sounds of monkeys and birds at dawn and enjoy quiet mornings on my porch drinking freshly brewed cups of Costa Rican coffee. Here, rent is very affordable and you can rent a house for as little as $500 a month. Before starting the day, I like to knock down a coconut from the nearby tree to quench my thirst.
My online travel agency business is rewarding in that I can get my work done from the comfort of my jungle home before setting off on a bike ride to the nearby surf beach. The warm water makes it perfect for a morning swim and the scenery is breathtaking: palm trees lining the beach and white sand.
On days when the sun is out and there is not a cloud in the sky, I might follow my surf session with an adventurous hike through the jungle. In the past couple of years, it is these hikes which have led me to learn about medicinal plants and exotic wildlife—sloths, howler monkeys, and blue Morpho butterflies.
Costa Rica is a tropical climate, but rainy days can be just as much fun as others. I have spent hours curled up in my hammock, reading a good book…or catching up with friends at the local chocolate lounge, sampling different kinds of chocolate.
Rain or shine, the Saturday farmer’s market is always great to visit and it’s a great place to make friends if you are new to the area.
I love waking up early on a Saturday and arriving at the market in time to buy fresh pineapple, papaya, kale, and organic coconut oil. The prices of fruits and vegetables in Costa Rica are very reasonable and often times you can buy a bag of vegetables for a couple dollars.
At the end of a beautiful day, I love to wind down with a relaxing yin-yoga class or a savory, local dish of coconut rice and beans complete with an ice cold beer. All of these activities are generally cheaper than they are in the U.S. and this allows you to engage in more activities and try new things.
Pura vida is more than just an expression in Costa Rica, it is a way of life. Living the “simple” life here has taught me to be present. It has taught me to enjoy my life and be grateful for all that I have. This magical country has shown me that spending time within nature, swimming in warm salt water, or going on a sunny, bike ride can be some of the best free therapy you have ever experienced.
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