It is no secret that I love Costa Rica and because of this I get a lot of questions about the country. What are the people like? What kind of food is there? What is it like to drive there? But mostly, I get the question, why did I choose this as “the place” that I want to move to and live in as an ex-pat (which by the way I dislike the term ex-pat, but more on that later in another story)?
When I respond, I caution the listener that their question is a loaded one and will, on my part, elicit a very detailed response that has some facts but mostly my own opinions which have been formed after having lived in and spent time in Costa Rica, both as a child and now as an adult who owns a home here. Usually, after about 10 minutes the person is either ready to go and visit or they are now regretting their question as I wax poetically on and on about the marvels that are Costa Rica. So, in an effort to answer some questions and satiate the curiosity of a few, I am going to try and distill down the reasons why I love this country in its entirety.
People are the Patches that Make Up the Quilt of a Country
I suppose, for me anyway the people have to be one of my favorite reasons for loving a place. Getting to know “the locals” as I have heard it referred to many times is a great place to start, and I highly encourage travelers or those looking to move to Costa Rica to start by befriending the people that live in the area. When a person chooses to open themselves up and become vulnerable by allowing the people of the country to be a part of their life, then their experience completely changes. Soon you will find yourself learning the places to go for everything, from the best food to the best place to see the sunset, the “locals” will embrace you with open arms if you let them. Andrea and I have made so many friends in Jaco and truly our experience here would not be the same without these amazing people in our life. We have had the privilege to get to know many people and I could write about any of them, but the two that I want to introduce you to are Adrian and Geudy, these two truly embody the ideals and spirit of Costa Rica. We have known Adrian and Geudy for almost 2 years now and we would not have the local connections and feeling of home without them. They along with Luis Torres and Melanie McAlister, Laura, Sabrina and Jaz, Ozkar, Nahuel, and so many others have invited us into there world and community with open arms and Andrea and I are thankful everyday that they are our friends who have become like family.
If People are the Patches, then the Food is the Insulation in the Quilt of the Country
The food in Costa Rica is amazing. From the traditional casados and gallo pinto to the fusion of flavors from the immigrants over the years, the food that makes up Costa Rica is absolutely worth experiencing. My favorite way to try new food places is to find where the locals congregate and simply walk in and sit down. Is it a bit daunting to do it this way? Yes. Do people stare at you and wonder what you are doing? Sometimes. But this formula has never failed me and I am always rewarded with the most delicious food. Case in point. Near our home we have a small soda, Soda Puntu. It is quintessentially local and serves traditional foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. On my latest visit, I decided that it was not worth buying groceries and cooking at home since I was only going to be there for a short time. Instead, I would patronize the restaurants, bars, and small groceries in my neighborhood, Quebrada Seca. Upon sitting down, it was pretty clear I was the only one NOT fluent in Spanish. But it didn’t stop me from ordering with a smile on my face. Soon, a gentleman sat down next to me and struck up a conversation about one of the local futbol teams. I explained to him that I could speak a little Spanish, but only if he could talk a bit slower for me. He agreed, and we spent the next hour and half talking the morning away. We learned about each other. We shared stories of family. I was invited to go fishing. In the space of 90 minutes, over food and coffee, I became just a little bit more a part of the community. For those wondering, my coffee and breakfast cost me 2500 colones, approximately $3.90 US.
If People are the Patches and Food is the Insulation, Then the Culture is the Thread of the Quilt that Holds Everything Together
Culture can be a funny thing to understand. It can be strange and sometimes scary. Why does a group of people do things in a way that seem so different to you and I? And to be fair, the culture of Costa Rica cannot be explained in this one blog entry. What I can tell you is that to understand this culture, or any new culture you must first open your heart and mind to new things. Secondly, for Costa Rica, you must understand Pura Vida. And while this phrase has come to define the country and people, I ask you to look beyond the translation, and dig just a bit deeper. When you do this, you will slowly start to unpack what it means to be a part of this amazing country. You see, Pura Vida is more than a slogan on a t-shirt or sticker. It is saying hello and goodbye. It is a response to almost any question. It is a hug and a kiss on the cheek to say hello, you are welcome here. It is what is unique about Costa Rica. It is what makes the place a joy to visit, and for us, a place to call home. Consistently, Costa Rica gets voted one of the happiest places on earth to visit and live. There is a reason for this. The People, The Food, and The Culture are just small pieces in a bigger puzzle that makes up the country of Costa Rica. This is why I have incorporated the words into the name of my blog site and Instagram. I want to always be reminded that I can live Pura Vida anywhere and anytime. As for Andrea and myself, we look forward to getting to know our new home better every day. I invite you to come and see for yourself.
I know that this short entry is not near enough to tell you about the amazing country that is Costa Rica. But, I hope it has at least piqued your curiosity. So, if you have any questions about what it is like to live or visit here, please don’t hesitate to reach out through comments or email.
Also, if you are interested in knowing more about the process of owning property in Costa Rica, I invite you to reach out to my dear friend Melanie McAlister. She is a dual citizen of both Costa Rica and the US and is a real estate agent in the Puntarenas Province area. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts and opinions. I would love to hear your comments or answer questions about this story or any other stories in my blog.
Wishing everyone peace and good vibes. Pura Vida