Monday, August 4, 2014

Pura Vida!

By Rich

Hola, Buenos Dias and Buenos Suerte are just a few examples of the ways you're greeted in Costa Rica. However, the one repeatedly heard no matter where you are is the uplifting Pura Vida. You'll hear this call for a pure life in the jungles of Tortuguero, the orphanages of La Fortuna, and the makeshift immigrant city known as El Carpio. The greeting is not something banal. It comes from deep inside their heart regardless of their location or circumstance.

Take Chloid, the lifelong resident of the jungle city of Tortuguero. A restaurant owner and maker of fantastic coconut candy, Chloid knows the true meaning of Pura Vida after spending his childhood hunting for iguanas in the jungle in order for his family to survive in an area where the nearest market was a six hour boat ride away.

Or visit the children of the state-run orphanages around the country. They wait in anticipation for a new family to embrace them, yet there isn't a pallor of sadness or despair. Despite their circumstances, these kids embrace Pura Vida by remaining joyful and welcoming to all visitors. Including a group of middle school students and their chaperones who barely know any Spanish.

And then there are the residents of El Carpio, the town of open sewers, garbage-strewn streets and corrugated tin roofs. Yes, there are some who are despondent in this town outside of San Jose; however, the rest of the residents work hard to make sure their lives and those of their family members are as happy as possible. For them, Pura Vida means hope and a brighter future not only for them but the entire Carpio.

We writers tend to worry a good deal about how many people like our book or how many sales we've made in one month. We spend hours or days sitting in an enclosed area, never breathing in fresh air or having the sun caress our skin. We complain at the lack of story ideas or the fact the coffee shop has run out of nutmeg for our lattes.

Perhaps we should take the example of Chloid and the residents of El Carpio and embrace a purer life where our modern day problems are put aside and replaced with a closer connection to the world around us. We may not be more productive but we will certainly feel better about ourselves and those around us.


Kerrie said...

Wow Rich. This post gave me goosebumps. Well written and very poignant. Thanks!
Pura Vida!

RichardK said...

Thank you for the wonderful comment. It was a transformative 10 days that put some of my life decisions in perspective.

Sarah Sullivan said...

Wonderful post Rich! I thoroughly enjoyed it not just for the great writing but also for the little glimpse into the jungles of Costa Rica and the struggling but happy families who live there. We adopted our daughter from Taiwan in 2008 and our trip there was similarly eyeopening. I don't know that there is any greater material for a writer than travel.

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