After a red eye flight beginning at two a.m., we hit the ground running. Some of us were lucky enough to find time to sleep on the six hour flight to San Jose; unfortunately I was not one of the lucky ones. Exhausted and a bit cranky I stepped forth into the sticky humidity that was Costa Rica. I had been waiting for this moment ever since I began drooling over the NETC itinerary six months before.
As soon as we met our tour guide and bus driver I began hearing the phrase “¡Pura Vida!” , having taken some years of Spanish I knew that this translated to mean pure life but I didn’t understand the use of the phrase in every day conversation. It was a greeting, expression of amazement, a farewell and all things in between.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
Even though I didn’t quite understand the meaning or use I began using this phrase with the locals we met and with my friends.
As we traveled across this beautiful foreign land I slowly began to understand the meaning. We walked through the rainforest at night and heard the chattering of all the insects, all the while I was trying not to freak out about the ticks that may or may not fall from the trees above. During that walk I was amazed that I didn’t need to see life in order to know that it was there. When I swam at the breathtaking beach of Manuel Antonio, I experienced a feeling of pure bliss that I had never known before. We also hiked through the amazing forest where I encountered a sloth, the one animal we had all be waiting to see, only five feet in front of me. It seemed to climb down and almost pose for our group to take photos.
All these experiences led me closer to the true meaning of “¡Pura Vida!” , but the experience that brought on my epiphany was being three hundred feet above a forest canopy with nothing but a simple cable holding me up, racing towards the other end at a speed that was much too fast for my liking. After zip lining through the jungle we had the option of jumping from a platform two hundred feet above the ground in a bungee jumping sort of fashion. At first I was adamant about staying safely on the ground but I realized I might never have this chance again so I hesitantly made my way to the edge of the platform.
It was in that moment, when my feet left that platform and I began my quick descent towards the ground that I truly understood the meaning of “¡Pura Vida!” It meant living life to fullest and truest that it can possibly be lived. Conquering your fears and taking chances that you would never even think twice of taking. Jumping from that platform and believing that everything is going to be okay and that you will meet the ground not as a pancake but as a new being who has seen the true meaning of life and is ready to take on whatever challenge life throws at you head on.
I left Costa Rica with a new outlook on my life and I couldn’t be happier with my decision to go on that trip. That week changed my life; it led to my hunger for travel, to experience the world just like I experienced Costa Rica. There is so much I want to do and all because of those two words I’m no longer afraid of venturing out into the world.
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