¡Pura Vida!

Costa Rica FoodPURA VIDA must be the most commonly heard expression in Costa Rica. A literal interpretation is “pure life” but in general usage it is an emphatic statement that all is good, life is good! It is a frequent response to "How are You?" and reflects the positive outlook of a people who are generally satisfied with their lives. The inhabitants are aware of, and appreciate, their naturally beautiful surroundings and wonderful climate, their standard of living is relatively high, and they enjoy life. They are also very proud of what they have accomplished as a country and how they are perceived by the international community. Costa Ricans, who refer to themselves as Ticos and Ticas (foreigners are Gringos or Gringas, with no disparaging connotation associated with those terms), have fashioned a peace-loving and prosperous democracy that is exemplary for other developing nations.

It's even been studied!  According to Nicholas Kristof (NY Times, January 2010), "the World Database of Happiness, compiled by a Dutch sociologist on the basis of answers to surveys by Gallup and others, lists Costa Rica in the top spot out of 148 nations."  Read  "The Happiest People".

There’s something different about Costa Rica. It is a country without an army in a world that counts tanks, missiles, and nuclear warheads as the measure of a nation’s strength. The national hero is not a general but a young, barefoot campesino (farmer). Schoolchildren, not soldiers, parade on Independence Day. While other countries debate the issue, Costa Rica abolished the death penalty more than 100 years ago.

Located in a region where violence has too often been the order of the day, Costa Rica lives in peace. It has a literacy rate of 93 per cent and a Social Security system that offers health care to all its people. Costa Ricans like to say they have gained through evolution what other countries try to attain through revolution.
      COSTA RICA, A Natural Destination (4th ed.), Ree Strange Sheck

Costa Rica FestivalSpanish is the official language of Costa Rica. English is increasingly being taught in the public schools, and many people have some basic understanding of English. Ticos are generally very accommodating and polite and will try to help you as much as possible with a language barrier, but some communication in Spanish is definitely an asset when moving about or living in the country.

Basic education is compulsory and free. Schoolchildren are noticeable everywhere, in their uniform blue and white dress. Tuition in the public universities, for those students who qualify, is very reasonable. There are also private universities operating in the country. Language schools can be found throughout the country, including San Isidro de El General.

While Roman Catholicism is the official religion of Costa Rica, the Constitution provides that everyone is free to practice any religion in the country, except if it harms anyone. There are churches of other denominations throughout the country, including San Isidro. There is a Roman Catholic cathedral in San Isidro and Catholic churches in the nearby communities of Santa Elena, Penas Blancas, and Palmares.

Many occasions are celebrated by fiestas, both national and local. Fiestas usually include carnivals, sports, cultural events, music, and food sales. In the rural area around VISTAS DE CHIRRIPO Country Estates fiestas will often include equestrian events as well.

Costa Rica Food MarketThere is a thriving arts scene throughout the country. As well as organized concerts and festivals, artists can be seen performing outdoors in different locations. Music concerts, opera, ballet, folklore dancing, art shows, and plays can be found in San Jose and other locations. For example, there is an English language little theatre group in Dominical, on the Pacific coast. There are museums of art, history and science to be explored. The latest movies can be seen at theatres, including the new theatres at the Plaza Monte General just south of San Isidro. There is a variety of live music to be enjoyed, including salsa, easy-listening, reggae, metal, cumbia, and mariachi bands in some of the restaurants.

Traditional Costa Rican food is simple and tasty. Cooks use the basic staples of beans and rice, with fresh vegetables, chicken, fish, beef, or pork. Fresh coriander and garlic are used for flavour. Hot spices and sauces are not normally used in the cooking, but a hot chile sauce is usually available on the table to spice up any dish. The typical breakfast is gallo pinto, a special rice and beans preparation with onion, sweet pepper and fresh coriander, usually served with eggs to your liking. The typical lunch dish is the casado , which is a “marriage” of fish or meat with rice and beans, fried plantain, and finely chopped cooked vegetables. Excellent ceviche, and fresh seafood, can be found in many restaurants and sodas. Sodas are small, family-run eateries offering home cooking at very reasonable prices. A variety of fresh fruit is always available, including mango, watermelon and other melons, pineapple, papaya, banana, and other lesser-known but delicious fruits. In addition to traditional Tico food and seafood, there are a variety of ethnic restaurants to be found throughout the country. Fresh vegetables and fruit are always available at street-side or road-side stands, and in supermarkets and at farmers markets. Fresh organic produce is plentiful at the large farmers market in downtown San Isidro.

Ticos and tourists alike enjoy the local beers, the most popular of which is Imperial. As well as in bars and restaurants, beer and other alcohol can be purchased in supermarkets and convenience stores anywhere. Beer and rum, and the domestic vodka, are very reasonably priced, and there is a good selection of all other spirits and wine. Wines imported from Chile are a particularly good bargain.
 

Costa Rica SoccerSoccer is the national sport of Costa Rica, and this small country has participated in 4 World Cups, including an inspiring performance in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil that gained world-wide attention for the small nation of Costa Rica.  Soccer fields are everywhere. Hiking, running, and mountain-biking are also very popular with the locals, and gymnasiums are now appearing in many locations. Of course, the presence of two oceans means that swimming, snorkeling, surfing, diving, sea- kayaking, and fishing are popular. Sport fishing on the Pacific coast is a major tourism activity, as are the adventure tourism activities of white-water rafting, canopy tours and bungee jumping. Golfing is on the increase in Costa Rica with more courses being built in recent years, but it is still not a common activity. The major natural attraction of the country is its extensive national parks system. More than 25% of the national territory is protected in 27 national parks and 8 biological reserves and 63 wildlife refuges. Walking the jungle trails, climbing the mountain peaks, exploring the waterfalls and swimming in their pools, exploring the pristine shores of a marine park; these are the activities that are attracting visitors to Costa Rica from around the world.

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Vistas de Chirripo Phase 2
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