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Wednesday, 30 April 2014

The True Meaning of Pura Vida

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I opened my inbox one day to find an email with a peculiar subject line.  "Congratulations, you have won a trip to Anamaya Yoga Retreat in Sunny Costa Rica".  I promptly deleted it, but a nagging feeling prompted me to retrieve that email and read it thoroughly to be sure it was, in fact, just another scam.  Four months later, I boarded a plane for San Jose, Costa Rica and onto the small Pacific Coast village of Montezuma where I would learn an important lesson in life and in living it to the fullest.  

There wasn’t much going on at Anamaya Yoga Retreat on my 4th day in Montezuma.  I had gotten into the routine of waking early and watching the sunrise, reading in the hammock, taking a dip in the infinity pool and checking emails all before breakfast was served; so on this day, I decided to break the routine and do something a little different.   I didn’t want to waste the day sitting by the pool so I strolled down the hill into the village and spent the day exploring the little streets and surf shops and enjoying the beach in the village.  The village had such an energetic ambiance: smiling people from all walks of life, embracing the day and one another.  I can still feel it now if I close my eyes and bring myself back there. 


It was the hottest morning in Montezuma since I had arrived and the walk down the hill was torture.  I was only half way to the flat part of the road when a young man on a motorbike stopped.   “Senorita, I take you to bottom of the hill if you like.”  He was wearing a nice shirt and khaki shorts which gave him an air of coolness and confidence, like he often picked up strange women who were about to pass out while walking down that hill in the heat and deliberately dressed the part each morning before leaving the house.  I never take rides from strangers, but I didn’t think I was going to make it any further without collapsing so I took him up on his offer and a few minutes later he dropped me off at the beach.  With a wave and a friendly “Buenos dias”, he sped off.


Since I was on the beach already, I plopped myself down on the sand in a shaded area and relaxed and looked out over the ocean.  A storm had passed near Montezuma the previous night and the water was extremely rough.  I tried to go for a swim but the waves were too powerful and the undertow too dangerous so I relaxed under a tree.  The smell of Ceviche and Empanadas in the restaurant a few meters from the beach filled the air.  The sounds of palm trees rustling in the gentle breeze and locals and tourists going about their daily business lulled me.  A dog chased a stick nearby and his barks were followed by the laughs of the happy children who were egging him on.  A stray cat sat near a foot cart, waiting for a hand-out.  The rhythmic sound of the waves coming ashore, like a lullaby, gently rocked me to sleep.

Shouting zapped me out of my trance to see people on the beach pointing to something in the water; some brave, fool-hardy surfers were attempting to surf dangerously rough waters close to some jagged rocks.  It looked like the scene might end in tragedy but, fortunately, the surfers made it safely to shore.  Welcome to Costa Rica – home of adventure seekers, lovers of life and daredevils!


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