During the first week of May 2014 I was in La Fortuna, Costa Rica. It was an amazing experience (click the pics to enlarge them). So affecting that I am redecorating my patio to emulate what I experienced there. Each room in my home evokes a season of the year and a culture I have studied, admired, and/or seen in person. Everything about Costa Rica was enchanting, and the more I learned about its history, people, and culture the more I admired what I found.
Okay, getting out and about into Costa Rica itself: Volcán Arenal, the forests and parks around it, the manmade lake at its base, and the various guided walks are all amazing. I had no idea that 5% of the world’s species are all clustered into tiny little Costa Rica… The country as the richest biodiversity on the planet, so you really must go and experience the wonder that is its natural beauty. Also, the suspended bridges are exhilarating to walk, and you simply must see Rio Celeste and Laguna Azul (but be sure to wear shoes that can get muddy – there are portions of the trail that are like walking in wet potter’s clay, and you will sink down to your ankles). Zip lining over the jungle canopy was a first for me, and I loved every second of it. And if you can withstand the bumpy roads in a van, the long drive from Volcán Arenal up to Caño Negro near the border with Nicaragua is a bird watcher’s paradise. Jabiru, the largest bird in the Americas lives there, and there are only 100 of them left in the world (and I saw two of them).
The trees, flowers, butterflies, frogs, reptiles, birds, fish, monkeys, and other natural wonders are all prizes; however, the Costa Rican people (they affectionately refer to themselves as Tico/Tica) are just as splendid as their ecology and climate. There is an attitude about life that I completely embrace: Pura Vida (Pure Life). This philosophy underscores everything about life in the country, and is the motivation behind everything in the country. People even greet each other with, “Pura Vida!” instead of “Como esta?” According to the principles of Pura Vida as I understand them, everything about nature is precious and deserves wonder and protection. Food should be sustainably farmed, forests should be maintained, animals and plants protected. Power should be renewable, and the smallest footprint possible should be stamped on the environment (Costa Rica will be the first carbon neutral country, and their goal is 2021). Happiness is prized over possessions. Education and health care are free. There is no army. The country is at peace with its neighbors (though Nicaragua makes it tough at times), and they have a conciliatory role in the conflicts of the region. Their democracy is considered one of the most stable and transparent in the world.
Taken altogether as a whole, I have to admit that this is one of the most endearing destinations I have seen thus far. Between the scenery, the people, the handcrafts, the food, and the lifestyle, I would have to say that Costa Rica is one of the happiest and healthiest places I have visited. I can definitely see why many people retire there. It is a developing country, yes; however, it is safe and clean, and I cannot wait to go again one day. Pura Vida!