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Living the “Pura Vida”; A Review of “The Costa Rica Reader”

Costa Rica Entertainment – Pura Vida! This simple phrase is uttered all over the Central American country of Costa Rica. Its meaning is quite diverse. Its literal translation is pure life. What constitutes this pure life for the Costa Rican people is quite interesting, informative and has a much different focus than what we here in the United States ascribe to a meaningful existence. The spiritual element of this movement is quite tangible. The process of living Pura Vida is a beautiful way to go, living day by day with consciousness of body, mind and spirit in tune with the natural world.

The key elements of the Pura Vida lifestyle are a strong connection with family, community and the environment. Having meaningful employment that contributes to the betterment of the whole area is also important. A relatively healthy eating pattern combined with an outdoor exercise program is integral. A meaningful, playful and inquisitive connection with nature is very tangible, as well. There is a unity of the individual with the whole that reduces the stress and anxiety that is so prevalent in capitalistic societies. The focus of energy is outward, helping others and the natural world. The feeling most certainly rubs right off on visitors.

Today’s book is The Costa Rica Reader, edited by Steve Palmer and Ivan Molina. It is a collection of essays, news accounts, poems, and other writings by a variety of people throughout history who have experienced Costa Rica. It will help to exemplify some of the Pura Vida concepts, and also show the reader what forces can be the death of happiness even in this happy country. Self-serving motives never seem to benefit anyone but the individual involved. This is an interesting lesson to consider in our world today.

The natural environment in Costa Rica is perhaps the most diverse on the planet. The flora and fauna are so wildly diverse that it would require a very extensive life dedicating time period in the country to experience, or even witness briefly, all of it. From the tiniest insects, ants seem to be the only creature that moves quickly in Costa Rica, to the most majestic fully plumed birds of the air down to the crocodiles and tortugas (sea turtles) one’s head spins constantly taking it all in. This is all set amongst the most dazzling and colorful array of plants and vegetation imaginable.

The Costa Rica Reader shares adventures and simple tales set in this lush and oft tropical setting. Some of the country is quite arid, with water supply being the most distinct concern for human residents and nature’s inhabitants alike. Though Mother Nature’s elect seem to be quite adept at surviving multi-month long droughts quite well. Trees such as teak grow wildly and quickly with seemingly no water at all. Much of the animal kingdom seems to be able to survive the dry seasons quite well also. Perhaps they know the rain is coming?

The Pura Vida lifestyle which many of the Ticos (local and native residents) adhere to with ease is always in some peril with the influx of capitalistic enterprises. It is no oxymoron here that money is the root of all evil. Interestingly, the people who go about their daily lives not concerning themselves with the dollar seem to be the ones to which the dollar flows most readily. There is some magic in the philosophy of giving away what you have just to watch more come in. This lesson would behoove us here in the States tremendously. Our constant worry and anxiety over issues of money is a death note awaiting those who concern themselves so tremendously with this false god. Think of the Scrooge here, perhaps. The selfishness of our world does nothing to improve the world. Perhaps we could take a little lesson from other parts of the world that though they seem to have less materially, are in fact quite a bit richer in happiness than we. Have a look at The Costa Rica Reader or even better go visit the place and decide for yourself!

Enjoy and read on!

By KERRY WHOLEY, Rhode Island Newspapers

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