As I closed my eyes and try to remember being in my favorite place, all I can think of are the sounds, smells, and the amazing smiles I receive as I am walking down the streets. The smells of the fresh brewed coffee from the coffee plantation fills the air, the laughter and everyone yelling “Pura Vida” tickles my ears. When I open my eyes and look up into the skies, my eyes glisten at the beautiful mountains that surround this country. I feel at peace, I feel loved, and I feel free.
I could list Costa Rica’s amazing beaches, mountains, museums, and explain why it is important to visit this particular country; however I am going to write about my personal experience, and how I found myself through personal growth, travel, and liberty because of this country. When one writes about liberty the story typically address one’s escape from one particular area to a much better place. My story of independence will describe how I did not only escape from one place to another, but I was able to return and make my life better in whatever location I settled in.
As a child, I grew up in a crime infested neighborhood, a two bedroom apartment with four siblings, and a single mom. I was limited to travelling alone; I couldn’t even pass the fire hydrant that was placed on the corner of the street. I dreamt of one day leaving my surroundings and telling my peers that a better life exist somewhere in this world. I was determined to find this better place, and inspire others to do the same. I was always told that life has so much to offer, if you are willing to accomplish the challenges and lessons that come along with it.
When I first visited Costa Rica in a study abroad trip with my classmates I was not prepared for the many lessons I would come to learn. The five months I spent in Costa Rica was no walk in the park, but I have changed into a better person because of this trip. The most important lesson that I learned from my travels in Costa Rica, is the significance of enjoying one’s life to the fullest no matter what problems that may affect it. I remember living with my Costa Rican host family who were always so gracious and kind to me. Whenever I had a problem each member of the family always did their best to help me. My mama Tica, (host mother) Ines Arguedas Compas, taught me to find alternatives to the struggles that life brings. Ines’ dream was to have a huge family with many children, but she was only blessed with one son. Therefore she decided to become a host parent so that she can be the mother to many individuals from all over the world. After she told me this story she said, Pura Vida, which means everything is good.
One day I went to Puerto Viejo and I met an Afro-Caribbean woman, Sara, who always had a huge smile on her face. She loved to cook for everyone, and to make the people in her restaurant laugh. Later that evening, while we were all sitting down eating, coco pollo, coconut chicken, I found out that Sara was diagnosed with cancer and could die any day. I was sad for the rest of the evening, and I guess the expression on my face made Sara approach me. I told her that I was sorry that she had cancer, and without thinking I questioned why she was happy. Sara said Pura Vida, and then explained that she had a wonderful life, and is thankful for all the things that she had received. Therefore she will continue to enjoy the rest of her life until she is gone.
After speaking with many locals and listening to their stories, I realized that there were people in the world who had lives similar to mine, or even worst, however they were still happy. I still did not understand why everyone was content and stating, “Pura Vida.” When I looked up this term in the dictionary its translation is pure life; however in Costa Rica it means everything is good. When I combined both translations, I realized that they were happy because they were free of worries. They are free because they have a pure life or less stressful life because they are able to take the goodness out of everything they do. I am free because I am able to enjoy life to the fullest without worrying about life struggles that sometimes block my way, thanks to Costa Rica. Pura Vida!
About the Author: My name is Andrea Scott and I am a bilingual teacher in Saint Louis, Missouri. I enjoy traveling to different countries and learning new languages. My dream is to become an international reporter, and I hope to inspire individuals through my writing. Some of my writing clips are located at http://iluv2express.blogspot.com/