Must-Know ++ Costa Rica
"La Pura Vida", Costa Rica's Secret to Happy Life?
The Costa Ricans are not only one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, but have also developed a new lifestyle: La Pura Vida or roughly translated into Pure Life. But what does it mean to live a pure life? Slow down and enjoy every moment. Is that really all?
So you chose to volunteer or do an internship in Costa Rica - one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. Not only the animal world benefits from the good vegetation, in harmony with nature, the Costa Ricans have developed a very special lifestyle: La Pura Vida. Certainly, one more reason that calls you to this little paradise. But how exactly do you live a "pure life"? The first and top basic rule for you is: lower the pace. Above all, “La Pura Vida” means enjoying the moment and not thinking too far ahead.
Meet Up with Locals
Many of the locals, also known as Ticos, can speak a little English. Nevertheless, it is advisable to apply your Spanish skills - regardless of the learning stage, you are in. They will forgive you for mistakes and will not laugh at you, don't worry. What makes Spanish so special?
Ticos are very polite. Instead of “tu”, “usted” is used, especially when others are addressed. In more informal situations, “vos” is used.
Older people are always addressed with Señor / Señora, or Doñ / Doña to show respect.
You will notice that this is pronounced differently. It sounds a bit jolly.
Getting from A to B
... is very easy in Costa Rica. Public buses work very well and cover almost every area. One thing you shouldn't forget here: “La Pura Vida”! The bus drivers are also in no hurry and buses definitely don't arrive when they should. Nevertheless, you should be on time, because the one time that you are late, the bus comes on time. Even if the buses run quite reliably, it is always very pleasant to rent your own car. Sure, driving gives you flexibility and individuality. But it also demands some of your Pura Vida mentality. Because directions from locals can be as follows:
“Always straight ahead, then turn left after the second curve, then right at the Coca Cola sign, and then right again at the small yellow house (not the big one) and when you see the largest palm tree…:”
Visit a Feria
Many cities have a Feria at least once a week, a market where farmers sell their products. It is a great opportunity to test the many exotic fruits and vegetables and to talk to the locals.
Eat like Locals, go to Soda!
A soda is a café in the style of a mom and pop shop. What is served here is the finest homemade food that must become an integral part of your Pura Vida life:
A Casado, which means "married man", is usually served for lunch or dinner. It is a very balanced meal consisting of chicken or fish, rice and beans, lettuce and plantains.
Plantains grow all over Costa Rica. Prepared in all possible variations, they actually go with almost every dish. What absolutely must be tried are patacones: double-fried with bean dip.
Of course: coffee! Costa Rica is known for its world's best coffee.
The traditional breakfast in Costa Rica: Gallo Pinto
The typical breakfast in Costa Rica is called Gallo Pinto: rice is mixed with black beans, fried and served together with egg, toast, tortillas and fried cheese. Yes, fried cheese! This meal fills the energy storage for a promising surfing or hiking day.
It's Going to be Full of Adventure
The ecological treasure trove of Costa Rica has so many outdoor activities to offer that it is probably not possible to try everything. Costa Rica definitely has a lot for the adrenaline hunters among us, just a small outline:
Hiking tours over the active volcanoes
Treetop hikes in the rainforest
Trips to pristine beaches and so on
Local Tour and Nature Guides
If you want to climb the mountains or stroll through the rainforest, you should be accompanied by someone who knows your way around. They see what you are most likely to overlook and what would quickly end your trip. Poisonous frogs, snakes or just plants are hidden in the grass and in the trees, the touch of which is not entirely safe for you.
What Remains are Memories and Footprints
“La Pura Vida” also means living in harmony with nature and leaving it as natural as it is. It is strictly forbidden to destroy the flora and fauna and is even considered a crime. What does that mean for you: not emptying garbage without a will, leaving flowers where they grow and not feeding animals with muesli bars or other food.
The Dark Side
Drugs and prostitution are particularly widespread in large cities. At some point you will run into it. On the one hand it is frowned upon, on the other hand it is part of society. So if you end up in a bar that somehow feels like a brothel, it's probably just that. Drugs are illegal, but Costa Rica has developed into a very productive trading center for drug cartels. For you this means: follow your instincts, stay away from drugs, pay attention to your surroundings and if something strikes you as Spanish, move on quickly.
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