Posted: June 20, 2017

To clarify, there is no cotton candy in Costa Rica (unfortunate, I know). However, I’ve found that cotton candy seeps into every crevice here. From the color of the bubblegum pink and powder-blue houses to the childish wonder that tropical animals and landscapes bring, Costa Rica resembles the sweetness and brightness of cotton candy. Another thing we’ve found that sugar brings? A sugar rush. We’ve seen a whimsical rush of toucans, palm trees, and crocodiles, but it also brings a postpartum dip where I’ve seen the below-the-surface humility and adaptability that Costa Rica is built around.

The first thing that demonstrates this humility is the phrase “Pura Vida.” The straight English translation is “Pure Life,” however, here it’s used as a broad embracing of positivity. When we were in Jacó, a city along the Pacific coast, we were stopped by a local who had witnessed a less than positive encounter we had with a man about our survey on ecotourism, and he apologized for the man’s behavior as it didn’t align with this Costa Rican philosophy of pure positivity. He shared with us his and Jacó’s story, gave us his business card, and bid us farewell, saying that we’d always have a friend in Jacó if we ever came back. If that doesn’t exemplify the friendliness and pride of a country, then I don’t know what does.

Another thing I’ve found about life here is the adaptability. Although the country’s history hasn’t always prioritized the natural environment, everywhere you go now, dense hills of green forests line even the highways, lush gardens run right up to the front doors of houses, and outdoor sinks and rooms are ubiquitous. People walk, bike, lounge on porches and nod “buenas días” with a smile to even us kids from SFS running around in rubber boots, trying to soak in the beauty and humility of Costa Rica.

→ Sustaining Tropical Ecosystems: Biodiversity, Conservation & Development in Costa Rica