Pura Vida – the Costa Rican law of the land. It is a way of life. A state of mind. An attitude. A philosophy. It means to live life to the fullest with joy, love, laughter, kindness, caring and tolerance.
I’ve just returned from a glorious, life-affirming week in Costa Rica. Pura vida is alive, well and thriving. A country with no military and every effort put into preserving, safeguarding and sustaining its biodiversity, its culture and its identity. Pura vida is now my mantra.
For the purposes of this article, I’ll focus on matters environmental but suffice to say that the people are exceptionally friendly and the food and water perfectly safe and satisfying no matter where you are in the country. From roadside fruit stands to food stalls, cafes, bars, local hangouts and restaurants, I thoroughly enjoyed them all. To know that what I consumed was safe and clean felt very reassuring.
Costa Rica is 0.05% of the earth’s landmass but it has 5% of the worlds diversity. The richness in flora and fauna is staggering and this was why this country was #2 on my bucket-list of places to visit. While I was aware that places like the cloud-mountain rainforest at Monteverde were major centers for research where scientists of all kinds of disciplines and from all over the globe come to work, I was pleasantly surprised that the whole population is environmentally conscious and proud of their efforts to do right. Water is diligently conserved, 75% of the energy is renewable with an aim to get to 100% in the near future, flora and fauna respected and protected, and the air is clean. And it shows. Everywhere I went was clean, comfortable and characteristically lovely.
The cities and countrysides were dotted with Cortez trees ( Tabebuia ochracea) in full pink or yellow bloom. Stunning. Add the loose, yellow flowers of the tamarind trees, the bold orange of cannas and the sunset hues of birds-of-paradise and you can picture the sheer exuberance of color.
In the cloud forests, I was totally overwhelmed by the wealth of different plants, exotic birds and other odd yet disarming creatures like sloth, choati and kinkajous. A guided hike at night revealed creatures like stick insects, tarantulas, minuscule frogs and some other nocturnal critters. Listening to the night sounds, feeling the mist and walking in the dark was an amazing experience. All the senses were heightened and the awareness that hidden animals were probably observing the humans gave me goosebumps.
The hike at daybreak was differently exciting. To see plants we normally grow indoors thriving in their natural habitats, listen to the cacophony of all sorts of birds, insects and animals and breathe in the air redolent with earthy fragrances was a total joy. I was in heaven. This is virgin forest and older than Methuselah. Zip-lining over this ancient rain forest, I was reduced to tears by its sheer majesty.
From the come-hither-linger-awhile beaches and large, antediluvian looking iguanas of the Pacific coast to the more arid, scorching parts of the northwest where I saw forest fires to the cool, lush, wet greenery of the mountain rain forests and finally to the fertile, gorgeous landscape leading up to a volcano crater sitting magnificent and beguiling, I’ll just say that I witnessed pura vida in action.
This earth of ours is all we’ve got. She deserves to be cherished and preserved. Our survival depends on her survival. And while we are at it, surely we can look out for each other and live with passion, compassion and purpose.
Now, who cannot get with the Pura Vida program? Seems a no-brainer and yet, we fall short all the time. Well, let’s try harder.
[ It is worth knowing that Costa Rica does not have zoos. One can either go to the natural habitats/forests to search for and observe the animals or, visit a preserve that keeps animals that have been rescued from those keeping them as illegal pets, for fights or other equally reprehensible reasons. For one reason or other, these animals cannot be released in the wild as they no longer have the skills to make it there. A country after my own heart]
Before you drool over the photos below, I just want to alert you on an upcoming art show that I’m in.
ARTISTS OF NORTHERN WESTCHESTER SHOW
Sponsored by the
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Hudson Valley
2021 Albany Post Road, Croton-on-Hudson
Directions on website: www.uuchudsonvalley.org
Four Weekends of Exhibit Hours: Sun. 4/9, Sat. 4/15, Sun. 4/16, Sat. 4/22, Sun. 4/23, Sat. 4/29, and Sun. 4/30 – Noon – 3 p.m. Opening Reception, Saturday, April 8th from 4-6 p.m.
Enjoy the photos! I’m only sharing a tiny portion of the vast collection – will give you more next week! A big shout out to our excellent Monteverde guides Ronnie, Roy and Chikkie and, to dear friend Brithany whose pride in her country is contagious!
Sunset over cloud mountain
A matter of scale!!
Looking way up the inside of a hollow tree that is still standing.
Daughter on the zipline
(c) 2016 Shobha Vanchiswar