costa rica “pura vida”: a peaceful country without an army
Published: 27-11-2013 - Last Edited: 08-11-2022
“Pura Vida”: is an expression often heard while traveling in Costa Rica, it is somehow the national motto, meaning that everything is fine, that life is beautiful and worth to be lived. Not bad!, as a general approach and attitude of the population of an entire country.
In fact, the traveler who has never been there, in Costa Rica will find a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere, an abundant and generous natural environment, amiable and welcoming people.
I went there for the first time about 20 years ago, when it probably was a little more adventurous than today, but in reality, even meanwhile the numbers of cars has increased, the roads and the International Airport have been improved, cellular’s and computers have become popular, the country has basically remained the same, a small nation where everything go slow and where the people do not seem to be in a hurry.
Situated just 900 kilometers North of the equator, this small Central American country enjoys a warm climate all year round, water and vegetation are abundant and a changing landscape of high mountains and lowlands make it a true paradise for nature and outdoor lovers. Enclosed in between the Caribbean Sea on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other, Costa Rica offers miles and miles of tropical beaches where it is possible to surf, snorkel, scuba dive, whale-watching, kayaking, horseback riding, simply sunbathing”¦or just lazily swinging in a hammock in the shade of the ubiquitous coconut palms trees.
Since long time the country is oriented toward the respect and conservation of the natural environment; there are many protected areas and a good number of National Parkswhere is possible to observe a great variety of colorful tropical birds, mammals, reptiles and an humongous number of insects of the most incredible shapes, sizes and colors. But life is teeming all over the place and even outside the protected areas, is not rare to have close encounters with exotic animals like Sloths, Toucans, Howler Monkeys or giant and multicolored Butterflies.
Another pleasant peculiarity of this small Country is the absence of an Army. After the only and truly modern war sustained by Costa Rica, and just a ten days Civil War, the winning Party decided to abolish the army and to route the funds and resources for defense to Public Instruction and Social Security. The result being a tolerant and non-belligerent general atmosphere ingrained in the population and in the collective consciousness.
The population is in fact a mix of different races peacefully living one next to the other. In spite of a majority of “Mestizo” inhabitants as product of a down the centuries combination of the Spanish European colonizers and the Amerindian, there is a notable number of people of African origin transplanted in the West Indies during the infamous times of the “slave trade” and that still preserves a Afro-Caribbean culture with more modern Rastafari traits. There is still a good number and different tribes of the original Indios established in the region since thousands of years as well as a significant minority of Asians(Chinese) arrived in more recent times. There is also a consistent community of expats coming from the States, Canada, Europe and South-America that in even more recent times moved to and made of Costa Rica their new home. The most outstanding and “civilized” aspect of this racial melting pot is the tolerance and peaceful cohabitation amongst the different ethnic groups, the continuous mixing of the cultures, and the almost absolute absence of racial tensions or xenophobe movements.
The perception of the occasional traveler, visitor or tourist is therefore and usually of peacefulness and welcoming. The tourist structures are well developed and the choice is ample, ranging from the rustic bungalow hidden in the luscious jungles or next to secluded tropical beaches, to the hotels and luxury resorts mainly found around the capital(San Jose’) or in the most developed areas of the Pacific coast.
The food is not bad at all, besides the ubiquitous and yummy tropical fruits like Papayas,Bananas, Pineapple and Mangoes among other, there is a delicious local cuisine as well as international restaurants offering Italian, Chinese, Peruvian, Argentinian, Japanese and vegetarian food. The demand and interest on health food has notably increased in recent years and the production and sale of organic products is growing.
Another pleasant trait of the country is a quite large interest for the Yoga disciplines represented by a notable and vivacious number of local and foreign practitioners and teachers. In fact, since many years Costa Rica has been a sought after destination for Yoga Retreats, Workshops, Seminars and Teacher Trainings with the participations of schools, teachers and students coming from all over the world.
Visiting Costa Rica and studying Yoga at the same time is an opportunity not to miss”¦a “Pura Vida” opportunity. Welcome to Costa Rica!
The Hari-Om School of Yoga has made of this country one the location where “Residential Yoga Teacher Trainings” are offered in some of the most inspiring venues of the entire territory.
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