Can I expand Costa Rica’s life philosophy ‘Pura Vida’ across the globe? In Costa Rica, people say pura vida, both as a greeting, and as a goodbye, in response to a beautiful view, in politics, with high fives on cycling to a mountain top, it’s a response to como estas? (how are you?) and you’re welcome: such a multitude of different meanings. I suppose it’s a statement about life, one’s community and family. It’s brilliant and it’s working.
At first I thought Pura Vida was a tourist gimmick, at best a motto, but I’m beginning to understand that it genuinely is a way of life for the people of this little country of 5 million. I look at its rainforests, its rolling hills, sharp volcanoes and verdant valleys, its natural springs, clear rivers (absolutely nothing but human waste is flushed down the toilet) and drinkable tap water. I wrote before how Costa Rica abolished its army and invested in free education, health, welfare, and environment. Almost 80% of its electricity comes from renewable sources, 98% literacy, low infant mortality, low birth rates…but statistics do not convey the grass roots philosophy embedded in Tican culture. This is true sustainability. We see self built shacks and in the city there are (mostly Nicaraguan) street dwellers; it’s not perfect yet, but it will be.
I’ve never been so high on a bike!! We began in Orosi at 1,075m and cycled up to Cartago at 1,400m where we left our panniers in a hotel room. Then a long climb up to Urazu volcano, to 3,360m, total climb +2,280m, that’s 10 Bristol hills, a personal best! We took a bus up yesterday and saw 30+ Sunday cyclists on a beautiful tarmac road, incredible scenery, so we had to attempt it ourselves, yes, at our age!! Of course the best thing about going straight up a volcano is that once you reach the top it’s all downhill. Chilly! I needed a hot bath not a tepid shower to release my fingers from brake position! But it was awesome, incredible, I’m sure I’m one of those (fortunate) people whose bodies release endocannabinoids in response to physical activity – I wonder how similar they are to the cannabinoids I smell at Glastonbury? A fitting end to our visit to Costa Rica. Today we cycled into the capital, our last ride with panniers, tailwind and downhill, just as it should be, to catch a flight to Cancun.
That’s it, my last blog…. however….as Hillary Mantel writes “The word ‘however’ is like an imp coiled beneath your chair. It induces ink to form words you have not yet seen, and lines to march across the page and overshoot the margin. There are no endings. If you think so you are deceived as to their nature. They are all beginnings. Here is one” Where next?