“Pure Vida,”says the server with a smile as he hands me a cold drink made with Guaro and jalapeños. I mumble “gracias” and return to the book in which I am engrossed, relishing my time by the pool, free from the responsibility of caring for four children.
Most of my travels include immersing myself in the culture, history, and language of a country. The old me would have tried to become a Costa Rican “tico” or local. Not this time. With a 10 year anniversary to celebrate and no kids to attend to, the only local custom I wanted to adopt is the Costa Rican idea of a “Pura Vida” lifestyle. Pura Vida literally means pure life, but how they actually live it goes much deeper. It refers to the eternal optimism of the Costa Ricans and the joy they garner out of every situation. And joyful I was during my 8 night stay in paradise.
We chose to stay at the beautiful and remote Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort. I wanted to avoid large crowds, sub-par buffets, and drunken college kids. What I discovered was a hidden gem, just steps from the calm and clear waters of the Gulf of Papagayo, seemingly far from the rest of the world. To say this is a luxury resort would be an understatement. Every need was attended to, every wish granted. The food was excellent, the staff was impeccable, and the accommodations were superb. It felt like our own private oasis.
The opportunities to explore the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica were endless. The resort offered complimentary activities such as kayaking and snorkeling, and even had a personal trainer led, early morning running group. While most of our time was spent laying in a hammock by the beach, we did venture out every now and then.
Never leaving the resort was certainly an option, but we decided to go on some excursions through a local tour operator. We chose two: a day of horseback riding through the jungle with zip lining and hot springs and a day trip to an active volcano in Nicaragua. There was just so much to see!
Jungle ride and hot springs:
A day in Managua, Nicaragua with a stop at Masaya Volcano:
The heat from the molten lava was intense:
My travels to Costa Rica were relaxing, exciting, and rewarding, but after being away from my children for 8 nights, I was ready to get back to them. The Guanacaste region is beautiful and I know there is so much more to explore in this vibrant country. I am looking forward to returning with my kids in tow. The best souvenir I brought back with me is an appreciation for the calm and laid back lifestyle of the Costa Ricans. If only I could live my own life that way. I can only try!