The Pura Vida Effect of Costa Rica

A tale of letting go. Inspired by nature and the desire to live a stress free life. Costa Rica became a defining moment. A trip that would change my life forever.

Low tide in Playa Samara in Costa Rica
Low tide in Playa Samara in Costa Rica

Pura Vida in Costa Rica

While traveling in Costa Rica with my Husband, I broke.

The sum total of my life’s work, becoming successful in the NYC Media world fell short of the connection I felt to nature in Costa Rica. On a shoreline, waves crashing, my heart opened to pura vida.

I knew in that moment, the life I had been living was no longer mine. A black clad Manhattan warrior women, I could no longer be.

Meaning of Pura Vida in Costa Rica

Visitors to Costa Rica, will hear Ticos (Costa Ricans) say “pura vida” in greetings or with a wave in passing. Yet the meaning of ‘pura vida’ is deeper than pleasantries.

Ticos have a deep love of family and appreciation for nature. In Costa Rica, Pura Vida is connected to a relaxed, simple way of life. A “pure life.”

My life coming into Costa Rica was the exact opposite of pura vida. At 37, I had begun having chest pains daily. Eleven hour days, hundreds of emails and countless meetings, were literally killing me.

I was disconnected from nature, family and friends. Living a simple, peaceful, uncluttered life seemed miles away from day to day reality. 

A Pura Vida Awakening

The truth was, I knew too much. Over and over again, I’d worked myself to exhaustion to move up the corporate ladder. AOL to InStyle to HBO to Food Network to running a large team at Discovery. None of it made me happy. Not the work and not the things it could afford me.

No Mulberry Handbag or Jimmy Choo shoes had made me as happy as exploring a beach with my Husband. While making a decent salary, if I burned out, I would be replaced. In media, the guys at the top get rich, the rest, get churned.

On our last morning in Costa Rica we woke at Amor de Mar in Montezuma. Determined to enjoy every last second in Costa Rica, I made my way to the properties shoreline. With two hours left before we had to head back to New York, I settled into a shaded hammock.

A soft, steady breeze lifted off the waves crashing in front of me. I closed my eyes to meditate, a new practice for me. Unlike most mornings taking myself through steps to relax, I was already there. Seeking out tension in my body to mindfully let it go, I realized I had none. I was at peace and calm.

Fateful Hammock in Costa Rica
Fateful Hammock in Costa Rica

The week we had spent hiking through Costa Rica, had not just connected me with nature and my Husband but also with myself.

Hiking in Costa Rica
Hiking in Costa Rica

Sitting in that hammock by the sea on the final hours of my Costa Rica trip, made a hard decision, easy. The 1% I had been working for, could have their big house, cars and boats without my chest pains. I was done.

Returning to New York, I took a giant leap into the unknown and resigned without a plan B. It was time to work for myself.

The saying ‘pura vida’ comes from a 1956 black and white Gilberto Martínez Solares film. In it, a character who uses the phrase ‘pura vida’ remains optimistic no matter what happens. In Costa Rica, pura vida is not just a phrase, it’s a feeling. An appreciation for the realization that life is good when simple.

It’s been three years since our trip to Costa Rica. Now my Husband and I both work for ourselves. Something that takes a bit of a pura vida mindset. These days life is simpler. We have a lot less stuff but far more freedom.

Paolo in Montezuma Costa Rica
Paolo in Montezuma Costa Rica

Pura Vida Pronunciation

If you’re planning your own trip to Costa Rica here’s a few suggestion based on our trip. Where to stay in Costa Rica, What to Know Before Driving in Costa Rica.

Oh and make sure you know how to properly pronounce pura vida (pronounced; poo-rah-vee-dah). I find a little music helps!

Pura Vida!!!!

 

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