by Hannah Nevitt, Greenheart Travel’s volunteer participant
I have only been in Costa Rica for one week, but already I am quickly coming to know the meaning of “Pura Vida.” Regardless of how much money they have, families here live with fewer accommodations. For example, most families own only one vehicle and some take local transportation via bus or bike to work or to the store; they own fewer clothes and perhaps have one cellular phone to share between them. With such small living spaces they are constantly interacting with their family members. I enjoy watching the tender affections and closeness between the kids, their parents, and with relatives. They often greet each other with a kiss to the cheek or a handshake—even when they live next door and see each other daily.
My host mother washes all the clothes by hand, prepares our meals, and cleans the house every day while the kids are at school. She hangs the clothes out to dry…which can often take a few days since it is so humid. The family provides most of their own food. They have cows, chickens, and fruit trees so every day they bring in fresh milk, eggs, fruit, and the family makes cheese. There is also a lake near the property so fish is a staple in their diets, as well as fruit and vegetables since they have the orchard and organic gardens.
The food is excellent! The common Costa Rican Diet consists of rice, beans, fruit, and vegetables with meat once a day. Each morning, (Ticos get up very early…often at 5:30am) I have a piece of watermelon and a plate of either rice and beans, or eggs and tomatoes with a cup of coffee. The coffee in Costa Rica is fantastic; we have coffee in the morning and once again in the afternoon with bread, or crackers with jam. For dinner, Dinia prepares fish, chicken, or pork with vegetables and rice. I think my diet is very balanced. Except with fewer carbohydrates and sweets…which is good!
Another element of Pura Vida that I have come to observe is how well everyone knows each other in the neighborhood. When we drive down the road, or when we walk to the store we have to stop multiple times to say hello or chat with the people. It is apparent that I am currently the only foreigner in the neighborhood. Since the high tourist season is over and the area I am in is about 40 minutes from the touristy areas…everyone seems to know I am new. I have had several people from the community stop by to say hello or greet me because they heard I was in town. They all want to make sure I feel welcome…which is awesome!