Following in the footsteps of Alfred Russel Wallace
June 15, 2023
While we seem to be lost in a culture that prescribes meditating and mindfulness as an antidote to the stresses of modern life, Costa Rica has had the cure all along. ‘Pura Vida’ – the pure life – means appreciating the beauty of life in the present moment. It’s an eternal optimism and a local greeting which is entirely ingrained in local culture. In fact, it’s almost impossible to leave the country without feeling revived, refreshed and entirely renewed. In this emerald land of cascading waterfalls, tropical jungles and isolated beaches anything is possible. Whether you’re looking to shoot the rapids, hike some craters, enjoy peaceful walks through sun-dappled forest or relax on the beach – there’s an amazing experience for everyone.
Coffee: The story of the ‘grano de oro’ (the golden bean) began in the 18th century and since then it has played a pivotal role in Costa Rica’s history. The fertile, volcanic soil gives the bean a mild and softly acidic flavour. Today, Costa Rican coffee is ranked as some of the finest in the world. You can follow the process from seed to cup with a tour of one of the plantations dotted throughout the landscape.
Chocolate: The Europeans arrived in the Americas in search of gold, but the indigenous people already had a currency far more valuable: cacao. Another small, brown bean with its own starring role in the nation’s history. While we’re all familiar with the end product, a brown bar of tempting chocolate, the yellow football appearance of a ripened cacao pod is somewhat alien. The tender white flesh that encases the invaluable beans has a tangy yet sweet flavour- offering a completely new perspective of the world’s favourite treat.
Gallo Pinto: You can’t step foot in Costa Rica without trying the nation’s take on rice and beans. According to local lore, the origins of the dish begin in the tiny town of San Sebastían. The story goes that a resident called Don Barnabe boasted of his prized ‘gallo pinto’ (spotted hen) which he was planning to cook for the town’s Christmas celebrations. Gossip spread and the proprietor found himself face to face with a crowd of townsfolk eager to taste the promised dish. Barnabe’s solution was to pay homage to his now renowned ‘gallo pinto’ by frying up copious amounts of white rice and black beans, ensuring that everyone had something to eat.
Discover a mystical world where fine white mist curls itself around the trunks of towering trees, flashes of colour catching your eye as resplendent Quetzal or tiny hummingbirds flit by. The Monteverde cloud forest is one of the finest examples of Costa Rica’s spectacular flora and fauna, making this verdant sanctuary an unmissable destination for nature lovers. The country is home to 5% of the world’s biodiversity, a fact which it takes great pride in maintaining, thus rendering itself a world leader with cutting-edge conservation tactics and well-managed eco-tourism – by 2021 it plans to be the world’s first carbon neutral country!
The near-perfect symmetry of Volcán Arenal is a surreal sight: a colossal pyramid rising above a blanket of forest. The natural landmark provides an impressive backdrop for the nearby towns of La Fortuna and El Castillo, all the while simmering quietly in its resting phase. Hidden at its base; a collection of thermal hot springs, crashing waterfalls, twisting rapids and refreshing pools create a natural spa. An amazing example of the pure life the Costa Ricans so happily embrace.
Ready to adopt the ‘pura vida’ lifestyle yourself? Head over to our Costa Rica country page for local expertise, itinerary ideas and even more insight into this magical Central American paradise.