Manda and I have traveled to many beautiful places and met dozens of amazing people in the past three years, but when planning our next adventure, we have never considered revisiting a place because we would rather continue exploring new locations. Then there was Costa Rica. It was different for us. We fell in love with the jungle, and everything changed.
The salty, warm water, the humid jungle air, and the sense of family in the community there sent us on a spiritual awakening.
Here are our top four reflections that we took with us from our Costa Rica adventure.
1. Live the Pura Vida.
Ticos not only use this phrase constantly throughout conversation – to greet each other, to say goodbye, to say “no problem,” “all good” – but they also live by its meaning. Pura Vida means Pure Life – a reminder to be thankful for the simple things that make life worth living, like good health, the beauty of nature, our loved ones. They have a way of seeing the beauty and good in everything. Ticos literally live in the moment. They take life hour by hour, minute by minute. Their concept of time is different from ours in America.
Their priority always is to enjoy life.
On our last night in Costa Rica, we finally caught a sunset on the beach. This was the third night we had tried because the previous evenings were overcast, hiding the epic sunsets. But this one on our last night was perfect. It was bright and brilliant and powerful. Now, when I think of Pura Vida, I think of that evening on the beach – watching the sun fall into the ocean, surrounded by the best company, in the most beautiful place I’ve ever experienced. Since we've been back to our normal routines here in Denver, Manda and I tell each other “Pura Vida” every day to keep everything in perspective.
A resounding lesson we learn every time we travel is to put our phones down, to check out of the stress and pressure from our inboxes, social media, text messages, etc., and to truly tune into the present.
In Costa Rica, I learned to think deeper while also thinking less. I learned how to allow myself to be vulnerable and feel real, raw emotions. We learned what it means to be truly genuine and true to who we are. The community here is like a family, where everyone knows each other. They are so kind, welcoming and genuine, it felt like a breath of fresh air we never knew we needed so desperately.
2. Chase what satisfies your soul.
Manda and I are often asked about the way we live our lives. People want to know how we are able to travel so often. Our answer to these questions is always that we make it our priority to pursue what satisfies our souls. Adventure feeds us. We thrive on meeting people from around the world, with cultures that are different from our own. Getting out of our comfort zone pushes us to new growth and discovery.
We always feel refreshed and inspired after traveling, but this trip left us on a whole new level. Since we returned from Costa Rica, we haven’t been able to stop talking about it. We are inspired to chase Costa Rica and find out if we could make a life there because it feels like more of a home than anywhere ever has before. We realize it probably seems like an impulsive or rash decision to leave everything and move our lives to a new country, but life is too short to play it safe.
3. Go Barefoot.
On the first night in Costa Rica, Manda and I kept laughing at how it was common to see people walking around without any shoes on. That's not really a sight you see very often in Denver, or anywhere else in the country for that matter. By day two or so, we realized that’s just part of the Pura Vida vibe here. It was something so small, but so different from what I was used to, that it really left an impression on me.
By day four or five, we stopped wearing shoes completely, we stopped brushing or even messing with our hair and we lived in swim suits because we were in and out of the water constantly. Our entire outlook changed completely by the end of the trip. We felt more connected to nature than ever. We were so inspired by their simple lifestyle that we now can't imagine living a fulfilling life any other way.
While struggling to walk barefoot on the rough rocks on the beach one day, my Tico friend told me, “Breathe into it. Walking barefoot on the rocks is good therapy for your feet.” Those words resonated with me and reminded me to embrace the experiences that may feel uncomfortable, because sometimes those are the best experiences for you.
4. Allow fate to happen.
When we travel, we try to really live in the moment and follow what feels right. Sometimes that means extending your trip because it would be a shame to leave something so beautiful. Sometimes that means loosening that grip of control and living in the moment. Whatever happens, enjoy the ride.
Manda and I almost didn’t even go on this trip, but when we sat back and stopped worrying about all of the tiny details, we were amazed at what happened when we followed fate. And now, we’ve found our new favorite place on earth.