There is no such thing as a free lunch.

Pura Vida Costa Rica!

Jacó Beach

Costa Ricans have a saying, “Pura Vida!” which literally means “pure life,” but contextually means something like “full of life.” I think this refers mostly to the touristy things you can do in Costa Rica – relax on beautiful beaches, swim in natural hot springs, explore the rain forest and volcanos, and do some miscellaneous adventure-seeking. Indeed the slogan “Pura Vida!” is also used by the country’s most popular local beer company, Imperial.

I did do a lot of the conventional tourist activities, but since I stayed for a week with a friend and his family who are native Costa Ricans, I got a sense of what it is really like to live in the country. Here are a few notes that I made to myself during the trip:

  • Costa Rica is largely the envy of the other Central American countries. They’ve had the longest run of democracy compared to those other countries, so the government and economy is relatively quite stable. They’ve taken great care of their natural environment, so tourism (and especially ecotourism), is booming and their economy has been a major benefactor. One resident told me that Costa Rica is to lower Central America what the United States is to Mexico.

  • Since Costa Rica is a small country with a fairly homogeneous population in a historically turbulent area, the residents are a tight-knit group. If you’re a native Costa Rican, it seems that you can talk to a complete stranger like you’ve known him/her for years.

  • Globalization is evident and high-tech is already there. IBM, HP, and Intel take advantage of some corporate tax-free zones near the capital city, San José.

  • I expected the weather to be quite humid, but it wasn’t at all. I did visit during the rainy season, but during the day it was warm and dry, usually with a nice breeze blowing. It would usually rain in the late afternoon, and then cool down nicely at night.

  • Surprisingly (or not), very few people outside of the major tourist areas speak English. If I wasn’t with a friend who spoke fluent Spanish, I would have had a lot of trouble getting around and finding things.

Overall, I had a lot of fun on the trip and it was a great experience to see a different part of the world that I hadn’t seen before. I’d definitely recommend visiting Costa Rica to anyone, whether you’re going to be a conventional tourist or not.

July 21, 2008   1 Comment

Tree Hopping

I’m planning on taking some time off and going to beautiful Costa Rica for a vacation.  One thing I plan to do while I’m there is take a canopy tour:

I’m a bit scared of heights, so we’ll see how it goes!  Also I’d like to try out surfing while I’m there.  Check back later for a summary of my trip and some pics.

July 10, 2008   No Comments