If you could sum up the attitude, disposition, demeanor and the overall outlook on life of the average Costa Rican into two words, they would without a doubt be “Pura Vida”. Pura Vida is by far the most used phrase in Costa Rica and carries with it a host of definitions and uses, with its direct translation into English being “pure life”. If you happen to run into someone on the street, for instance, and they say hello to you, an appropriate response may either be “hello” or “Pura Vida”. This is an equally adequate response if someone asks you how you are, how you have been, says thank you, you’re welcome, pays you a compliment, or simply says goodbye. It’s the Swiss Army knife of Spanish nomenclature.
Although this popular phrase has various uses in everyday conversation, it can also be thought of to have a general or overall feel to it. Basically “Pura Vida” signifies that life is good. Given the chance to sit down and have a conversation with the average Costa Rican, or Tico, as they themselves, you will quickly find yourself with a person that seems to have a light-hearted attitude towards almost every aspect of life. Ticos are well known for having one of the most inviting, outgoing, fun loving, accepting, and generous cultures in all of Latin America, a region known for expressing all of these characteristics. Costa Rica and in particular Guanacaste has a very laid back to feel to it, where stress is a thousand miles away and every day is good no matter what seems to be going on. This attitude prevails with just about every size and shape of Tico that you will run into, whether they are older or younger, or richer or poorer, they all seem to be very happy with their station in life and seem to try to enjoy it as much as possible on a day to day basis.
Enjoying life seems to be an overall priority for Ticos. Problems seem to be less problematic here when there is so much life to be enjoyed. Simple pleasures like spending a Sunday afternoon at the beach with the family or having a few cold drinks watching a soccer game with the friends are the things that life is about down here. It’s a good life, pure life, and the phrase sums up the Costa Rican experience and the people that help make up that experience perfectly.
Derrick Poelsma, Remax Agent