Pura vida. For me this is not only one of the nicest ways to greet or thank each other. The two words also stand for the Costa Rica state of mind. The small country in Central America got its name for a reason. The beauty and abundance of nature is simply overwhelming. It took me several days to adjust my senses to its multitude of colors, sounds and smells. So different waking up from the wild cries of howler monkeys at 5 am when it is still dark. They are early marking their terrain accoustically, being heard for miles.
Exploring the tropical rainforest is a never ending adventure. The first thing I intuitively understood is why green is the color of which the human eye can distinguish most nuances. We only see what we know so I was happy that a local introduced me to the jungle. The Indians refer to it as their drugstore, supermarket and hardware store in one since the jungle is a miraculous source of aids and remedies.
While we made our way through the dense slippery forest I quickly learned to spot some of its fascinating inhabitants myself. Like the green iguana that can walk on water, hence known as Jesus Christ lizard. Or the highly venomous eyelash-viper with its perfect camouflage, adapting its color to the environment. I was fascinated by majestic trees, hundreds of years of age, their roots alone taller than me and with impressive lianas.
It is always fun to watch the capuchin monkeys darting through the treetops. They love to throw whole coconuts to the ground so you better watch your head. One actually missed me only by a few centimeters. But maybe the monkey did not really aim at me but just wanted to crack the nut open for his lunch. A lot harder to spot are the sloths. The strange furry animals spend most of their time hanging high up in the branches, feeding on leaves or simply sleeping. They only come down about once a week to use the toilet.
Costa Rica strongly focusses on environmental protection, a quarter of the whole country being protected area, more than any other country in the world. Traveling from coast to coast you get the chance to hike some of its unique National Parks in seven different climate zones, explore active volcanos, or swim in the cool pool at the bottom of one of the waterfalls. And, of course, to discover the many secluded bays and breathtaking beaches along the Carribean and the Pacific coast. Pura vida.
Read more about Costa Rica’s breathtaking coastlines in my next post.