Before I traveled to Costa Rica, I knew absolutely nothing about the country, culture, or customs. I discovered there weren’t too many cultural differences, but there were definitely a few customs that were nothing like my home country! Although one was kind of difficult to accommodate to, they all gave me a new perspective on lifestyle.
Pura Vida is a phrase you will hear A LOT in Costa Rica. And I mean a lot. When I first heard the phrase, I was extremely confused. At first, I thought I was being asked a question that I didn’t know how to respond to, and then I thought I was being called Pura Vida after I began hearing it so many times. But I can assure you, Pura Vida means none of the above. It’s a phrase that can mean just about any term of endearment, really. Pura Vida can mean hello, goodbye, have a good day, everything’s good, a relaxed way of living, and many others. Basically, you can survive without knowing Spanish, as long as you know the phrase Pura Vida.
Hearing the phrase being passed around so freely between strangers, locals, friends, and travelers, gave off such happy vibes. Costa Ricans truly believe in a relaxed, happy way of life, so it’s no shock that they essentially live by the phrase. Plus, if you know how to use Pura Vida properly, you’ll surely impress the locals with your lingo.
Conservation is major
A remarkable fact about Costa Rica is that nearly the ENTIRE country runs on renewable energy. This means wind, solar, and water turbines are responsible for all forms of electricity, production, and power. For a country that relies heavily on tourism to fund itself, this is truly incredible! But, because Costa Rica is so reliant on renewable energy, this means they are also very conservative. In all four locations that I traveled to, there was a limit on water and electricity. Each shower had a timer and would shut off after a couple of minutes, there were no washcloths and only one towel provided each stay to reduce laundry, and room lights would automatically shut off after being on so long. If you tried to surpass the limit in any type of way, you may receive a knock on your door. Trust me, I learned from experience.
This may sound a little extreme and just plain unattractive for traveling, but once you’re surrounded by the beautiful ecosystems and have a first-hand experience as to how powerful they truly are, you’ll be happy to play your part.
Littering is a HUGE no-no
In Costa Rica alone, there are seven different types of rainforests, over 800 miles of coastline, and thousands upon thousands of different species of wildlife. And, here’s a fun fact: Costa Rica accounts for only 0.03% of the Earth’s surface, yet provides 6% of the world’s biodiversity. Now, I’m not that good at math, but that sounds like an enormous ratio. If you aren’t familiar with the term biodiversity, it refers to the amount of life and ecosystems within a particular space. This includes plants, animals, insects, reptiles, fish, and all levels of ecosystems.
With that being said, littering is not acceptable whatsoever. During my entire trip abroad, I did not see one tiny piece of trash on the ground, and that’s not an exaggeration. Trash and recycle bins are placed in every spot you can imagine and it is highly encouraged you keep your waste on your person until you find one. Regardless if it’s biodegradable or not, your remnants are not Earth’s responsibility. Littering also carries a huge fine in Costa Rica, so if you’re caught in the act, you better hope you have a stash of cash on your person. Personally, I didn’t realize how freely I threw my gum on the ground or nonchalantly I threw a wrapper out of the car window until I no longer had the choice. It really made me think about how much litter I single handedly provide the Earth, and made me respect Costa Rica even more.
Guest Author: Kara Straight
Hi! My name is Kara Straight. I’m a writer for a few different publications, and have my own lifestyle blog as well! My best friend and I love to travel, so we make sure to travel somewhere new at least every other month. My first time traveling out of the country was when I studied abroad in Costa Rica during one of my college semesters. And from then on, the rest was history! Check out her blog at Straight Livin’ With Kara.