Costa Rica Tourist Brochure

Costa Rica Tourist Brochure

by Nick Ward

The term “pura vida” is a colloquialism unique to Costa Rica.

The direct translation of pura vida is “pure life,” and it is meant to express a national ethos of eternal optimism. Costa Ricans use pura vida as a means to say hello, goodbye, thank you and you’re welcome – really, it is a sort of phrasing catch-all used for almost any situation. Pura vida is a persistent reminder that no matter the circumstances, life is beautiful and we’re all fortunate to be enjoying the ride. In fact, uttering pura vida is such a prevalent Costa Rican trait, that most would affirm that the adage is less of a slogan and more of a lifestyle.

This perception of Costa Rica as a laissez-faire, friendly, and optimistic nation certainly bolsters its conventional reputation as a picture-perfect tourist destination. Combine this dispositional repute with the country’s flush but traversable rain forest, its beautiful beaches on both the Pacific and Caribbean coastline, and its proximity to North America, and it is easy to understand Costa Rica’s magnetism. Unsurprisingly, the promise of the pure life and beautiful landscape attracts nearly three million cautiously-intrepid pasty-skinned, cargo short wearing tourists annually. Most of whom are quick (again unsurprisingly) to adopt and make liberal use of the aforementioned phrase “pura vida.”

With all that stated, it is important to remember that pura vida is a contextually pliable term.

In fact, for a significant portion of the many pasty-skinned tourists visiting Costa Rica each year, they are more likely to use the maxim to describe the country’s vibrant sex industry than to refer to the country’s beach culture.