Pura Vida is a greeting commonly used in Costa Rica, which literary means ‘pure life’. There is little here in the way of infrastructure, the main road from Puerto Viejo to Manzanillo is rutted to such an extent that the drivers treat it as an obstacle course. There are often pedestrians, bicyclists, cars, trucks and even horses vying for the right of way between the potholes. Our taxi driver, Jose, masks the run between Puerto Viejo and Playa Chiquita 1600 time a year, year in year out. He has never seen anything bigger then a four lane highway, but on this stretch of road he is an expert.
Power failures are common, internet spotty, and we have had to plan our days around the breaks that occur in the mere constant rain. When the sun comes through, though, there is a lushness and vitality in the air that seeps into ones very pores with a renewing sense of ‘Pura Vida’.
The closest electronic store in Bri Bri that is miles away, and sometimes the simplest things can be hard to find. (good pens and lightbulbs). There are no Walmarts, Home Depots or McDonalds. There are however surfers, bodyworkers, yoga instructors, artists, organic cookeries and juiceries and fruits falling from the trees.
Our babysitter, Chantalle, told the story of a family of Americans who were eating at her mothers restaurant. While she was in the kitchen there came a bloodcurdling scream from their table. When she went out to inspect what horrible calamity had befallen these innocents, she found the daughters and the mother huddled together pointing fearfully in the direction of where their father was sitting at the tale, laughing. An tiny iguana had shown itself and created this disturbance amongst the squeamish greenhorns. The household lizard is a fixture in most homes and restaurants and is helpful in keeping the bug population down. Chantalle, as well as the husband found the newbie’s reaction a little over the top. One may surmise that these gentile folk were not about to linger much more in these parts.
So far in our household we have had visitations by such creatures as: a toad on the stairs, big bats in our bedroom, an angry crab on our living room floor, streams of fire ants, a threatening invasion of leaf cutter-ants, cockroaches the size of your thumb and a beautiful iridescent green grasshopper, that is a sign of good luck. Outside a pack of dogs, who are our protectors swell as our great annoyance, an adopted cat, Tao, howler monkeys that sound like a backed up- garbage disposal system and the benevolent sloth (more on the sloth later). My once squeamish wife, who I may have found huddling with those timid souls and squealing in dismay, recently found a respectable size cockroach in her pencil case and was admirably blase about the experience.
Pura Vida indeed.