Pura Vida: A Lifestyle

Trigg Skoe

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By Sarah Jones

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This winter break we said adios to the snow and hola to tasty swells. Our shred-ready group consisted of 5 CSU students: Nick Vogel, Natalie Vogel, David Lynch, Travis Croft and myself, Sarah Jones. We flew out of Denver and landed in Costa Rica at 6 a.m,, greeted by the warm sun and friendly Ticos. By 8 a.m. we were settled into our home, lathered in sunscreen and ready to paddle out to our home break, Playa Grande. The water was warmer than the air and crystal clear, but the barrels and offshore wind were only a fraction of what kept us stoked on Grande. We experienced wildlife, food, community and a connection with the earth that will keep this spot sacred for years to come.

Almost every morning we were awakened by the sound of howler monkeys outside our home. Although alarming at first, the sound of this endangered species soon became a signal that it was time to get up and appreciate the new day. On our walk to the beach we were greeted by many street dogs, cats and various multi-colored birds including the Magpie Jay, hummingbirds and Trogons. As we approached the path to the beach, the locals would pull back the fence that closed off the trail. It’s prohibited to be on the beach at night because endangered leatherback turtles use this beach as their breeding ground. We appreciate the protection of this sanctuary and make our way through the canopy that covers the sandy path. As we paddle out, we see stingrays, fish and black tipped sharks. They swim swiftly and stay close to the ocean floor, unbothered by our feet dangling off the sides of our surfboards. When the tide lowered, we’d go in for breakfast where we were greeted by the blue and green iguanas relaxing in the trees. The animals and people live in harmony in Costa Rica, this is pura vida.

It’s incredible how energy, attitude and bodily functions thrive when you eat fresh food. Fresh fruit, veggies, fish and salsas are plentiful in Playa Grande. Our favorite dishes were ceviche, plantains and sashimi salads. When we found ourselves feeling dehydrated from being in salt water for hours, David would climb a palm tree, snag a couple coconuts and crack them open to hydrate our sandy family. Healthy food promoting healthy minds and bodies, this is pura vida.

Ticos and Ticas, the men and women of Costa Rica, are the kindest people I’ve ever met. They share their waves, stories and smiles. I’ve never seen such hardworking people who are so grateful and generous. One man in particular affected us all in a beautiful way. Mario worked security at the property we were staying at. He was around 50-years-old, tall, stocky, rocked a mullet and was missing a finger. Every day we would walk by, say hello and he would respond with a huge smile and the words “Pura Vida” in a deep, kind voice. He only spoke Spanish and worked from 12 p.m. until 5 a.m. everyday. One night, we made a mahi-mahi, rice, and veggie dinner and brought it to his watch station to share and keep him company. He told us stories of when he was a matador and vented about how many guests walk by without acknowledging him. He expressed so much gratitude for the smiles and greetings we would share with him everyday. He called us his family. Mario reminded me that small gestures mean a lot, and gratitude is a trait that no amount of money can buy. Mario is kind and warm. Mario is pura vida.

Our connection with the Earth flourished as we hiked, surfed, fished, canoed and scuba dived Costa Rica. We were constantly reminded of the unforgiving nature, power, and acceptance of the ocean. Sometimes a wave would close out and you would be tossed underwater for what felt like eternity. This was a reminder to stay calm, trust your instincts and value each breath you take. We learned to live harmoniously with the creatures of the underwater world by respecting their space and environment. We pushed ourselves out of our comfort zone by canoeing deep into the crocodile infested estuaries, and were completely present with our surroundings. Feeling deeply connected, present, and appreciative of the earth, that is pura vida.

Sixteen days in Playa Grande flew by, but the experiences we had are grounded in our hearts forever. Costa Rica opened my eyes to the power and gratitude of living a pure life, pura vida.