By Kenneth Justice
~ “There’s not enough culture here in Costa Rica, we much prefer Mexico than here” she said
At coffee yesterday morning here in Costa Rica an older Italian couple sat down next to me and we talked for a couple hours. Although they had traveled extensively throughout Central and South America, this was their first visit to Costa Rica,
“We really enjoy the beauty of the country, and the people seem to have a really deep seated love of nature….but we had a much better time on our trip to Mexico because there was so much more culture to be found” said the older woman.
It’s not a secret that Costa Rica did not develop a thriving art or music scene over the last couple hundred years because Costa Rican’s were never very influenced by the Spanish conquistador’s and other European conqueror’s of 500 years ago; you see, when the Europeans made it to the Costa Rican coast the Native American’s simply fled to the mountains and the Spanish decided they didn’t feel like roaming through the mountainous country to murder all of the locals (they also heard there was no gold to be found here so they didn’t have much motivation)…..
So in Costa Rica the Pure Life (Pura Vida) involves living a more simple life…….and some visitors to the country don’t like that.
Costa Rica is a coffee house culture. The locals and many of the American and Europeans Ex-Patriots who live here enjoy sitting around at little beach side café’s and simply talking about life, their travels, or whatever little conversational topic happens to come up.
—) Costa Rican’s aren’t too concerned with trying to change the world
—) Costa Rican’s have no desire to rise towards being the most technologically advanced society
—) Costa Rican’s do not spend much of their time thinking, “What should I do with my life”
Costa Rican’s are at peace with growing up in a little community surrounded by all their family and friends, and then one day they hope to meet someone they love and have a family of their own, “Pura Vida” they say. They are not really distracted with trying to ‘figure out their life’….they are simply grateful to be alive and enjoy the beauty of creation.
I can understand why the Italian couple and others have told me they desire the deeper developed culture of places like Mexico, Argentina, and Peru….I too love to drink in the music, the fine art, and those other types of elements when I travel.
Perhaps I am wrong, but I don’t really see anything wrong with the laid back Pura Vida life of Costa Rica. Is there a manual somewhere that says every society must be obsessed with becoming a fast paced culture, develop a thriving art and music scene, and instill within children an obsession with finding some deeper meaning to life?
The Costa Rican’s are a very religious people. The state religion is Roman Catholic, but they are not dogmatic or religiously rigid in any way. They are very laid back about their faith and religion and seem to demonstrate a peace about the whole thing, “We don’t pressure our children to marry a certain type of person” a local told me, “Because there are so many people who live in Costa Rica from all over the world most Costa Rican’s have become okay with their daughters and sons marrying a non-Costa Rican”
I explained some of this to the Italian Couple I was talking with and tried to find out if they could accept this different perspective about life…..yet while they understood what I was saying, they still stuck to their philosophy that Costa Rica is simply deficient and void of ‘true culture’.
Perhaps each of us are in different places in life. For some people, going on a journey where they can be surrounded by beautiful massive architecture built thousands of years ago is what they need to find some type of inspiration or joy……
For others, simply visiting a country where you can enjoy the harmony of an almost entirely untouched jungle and wildlife is pretty satisfying enough. That is what has always impressed me the most about Costa Rica; there are few places in the world that have as much unspoiled coast lines and massive amounts of wildlife and biodiversity that can be found in this little Central American country.
Costa Rica is for the person that wants to see the beauty of nature……before humanity stepped in and started building concrete roads, factories…..and everything else.
The country is developed enough that travel from one place to another is extremely easy……yet thankfully, Costa Rican’s are passionate about doing no more than the bare minimum when it comes to harming the environment and nature around them.
Costa Rica is one of the few places in the world where you can see so many different monkey species, sloths, Jaguars, Panthers, Parrots…..and all of the other thousands of animals that are lurking around every corner. The Costa Rican’s have figured out a way for humans to live and enjoy life….without having destroying the world around them.
The pure life is not for everyone. Sitting around at a coffee shop alongside the ocean and talking about life isn’t what everyone wants……but for now, I’m enjoying every moment of it.
(P.S. If you haven’t heard I’m currently on a national and worldwide tour of 100 coffee houses in 2014 check out my link for the news and stay tuned for dates and locations )
Categories: Drinking in the Culture