Guest post by Andrea Fellman of Wanderlust Living.
Adopting the Pura Vida way of life
If you think moving to paradise means instantly checking out and becoming all zen, roaming the beaches barefoot while your mind drifts off into the sunset, never to be seen or heard from again, think again. Sure, some people come to Costa Rica for a year to do exactly that “check out”, and that might be their intention and ultimate goal, so good for them. Costa Rica is a wonderful place to just that.
However, the slow pace here can actually be quite challenging for some and it may take longer than you think to succumb to the pura vida way of life. The term pura vida means pure life or the good life, or some variation of – life is good, everythings fine, take it easy, relax, or in some situations simply – oh well. It is meant to be a positive phrase and it can actually helps expats in Costa Rica adapt to some of the lifestyle differences and slower paced life. Pura Vida reminds you to “calm down, everything’s going to be fine”.
It’s a phrase that over the last 2 ½ years has helped me to calm the F’ down. Unless someone is hurt, bleeding or on fire, typically nothing is that serious or urgent to get worked up about. I’m an American mom, so I know a thing or two about being dramatic. But this pura vida concept and statements like “slowing down” conflict with who I am daily.
My husband and I operate on a pretty high level of mental activity and type-A personalities, if you put us on the moon we’d find 16 things to do with our time. So, it’s no surprise that moving to Costa Rica hasn’t slowed us down a whole lot.
Which is why the quote “No matter where you go, there you are” could not be more true. You may be able to change your location but who you are at the core is much harder to change.
Which might actually be the best lesson to learn from this experience of moving to Costa Rica. It doesn’t matter where you are physically, you’re always going to have to make the world around you work for you.
Finding Balance in Costa Rica
I do feel that there has been a very good balance for me here in Costa Rica. While my work requires me to be very social and active online with social media, when I shut it down, I truly shut it down. And because of the slower pace here, there isn’t a million other things to tend to or feel pressure to keep up with like back in the States. No one is in a hurry and rushing around you, the chaos is kept to a minimum. It’s the weekends where I find myself soaking up the pura vida way of life. To get away from it all, I can literally just walk out my front door. I can go roam the beach barefoot and hike the Las Catalinas trails for hours, lay by the pool, read a book and truly relax. Even the social engagements in Costa Rica are extremely low key and laid back, with the more the merrier attitude where everyone feels welcome. We have rotating potlucks every weekend, bonfires on the beach and never ending playdates. Which are just as much for the adults as the kids.
The other benefit of living here is that I have been more present and grateful for everything I have and am able to do and see. Some of the things I experience here are just for me and my family. It’s the private parts of my life, that mean more than any public pieces, those are the moments I try to tuck away in my mind to keep for later. I’ve let go of feeling the pressure to share everything about this experience. Contrary to the present state of social media, not everything should be shared.
I’ve read that many expats have difficulty sharing their experience about living abroad, and I believe it’s because the emotional currency of some experiences are so rich in value that they cannot be exchanged.
If you are planning to move to Costa Rica or anywhere abroad, it’s okay to be a bit naive. Not unprepared, but naive in that you should come with an open mind and have your own natural and unique experience. Someone telling you everything takes the adventure out of it. Whether it’s funny or frustrating things that have happened to us living in Costa Rica, they happen for a reason and we learn and grow from them. If you’re brave enough to move abroad then you’re probably comfortable with the unknown and that’s what makes it all so exciting!
Community in Costa Rica
People make the place. This statement could not be more simple but true. Are there things about Costa Rica that bother me and get annoying, yes. No place is perfect, but hopefully the people you are surrounded by should make up for what it might be lacking in strides. Our children go to La Paz Community School which makes it easy to integrate into a strong community that feels like family. La Paz and the expat community in Costa Rica is what made us stay longer than expected.
Everyone moved to Costa Rica for their own personal reasons but we all have something in common from the moment we meet – we all took a giant leap of faith. There is an instant under lining attitude of “we’re in this together”. Everyone is always willing to help and we trust each other more than I think we would have if we had met back in the States and I think it’s because we all have a collective interest in making this experience a positive one for everyone. If one of us is hurting or needs help there is a kink in the chain connecting us all.
Costa Rica is like family summer camp; you’ll make friends fast and they’ll change you forever.
Everyone comes to Costa Rica for a reason. Whether they’re escaping, healing, searching, working, growing, or relaxing and there will always be people coming, staying or going. We’ve experienced the exciting coming phase, we’ve mastered the staying phase and soon we’ll be going, but I’ll be keeping some of that Pura Vida with me.
Want to learn more about Costa Rica?
This post is part of a Findery’s #FindingCostaRica project, to bring you the best travel tips to Costa Rica, whether you are a local or traveling there the first time. I have collected several notemaps on Findery to share my favorites of Costa Rica, including tips for living in Costa Rica and 10 Day Itinerary in Costa Rica.
#FindingCostaRica Twitter Chat
Join us for #findingCostaRica Twitter chat on Tuesday, November 17th at 11am PST/2pm EST. Read details here. Follow @Findery and @savvysassymoms to chat more about Costa Rica, and Katja of @skimbaco will be there too among many others!