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Costa Rica: “Rich Coast” – an encounter with Pura Vida

159I’m ipadding you from the verandah of Beso Del Viento. The view is above. The roaring Pacific is just over the road beyond the palms.
Costa Rica is an informed banana republic. As a people they have learned to preserve nature – with superb results. Pura Vida – that’s the national slogan – “Pure life”. It surrounds you everywhere here.
Let’s get the primary attractions out of the way first. We are warm + 34 everyday and revelling in the reports that on this Saturday, April 26, it’s snowing in Calgary.
There is greenery everywhere. Palm trees are universal, in fact, too common.
We are not in danger. There are no demons lurking here, not even in microscopic terms. Malaria may be spread on the east coast, not the west. There are a couple of cases of turista in our party but nothing that isn’t easily preventable by avoiding contact with raw food, bar ice or tap water.
Now let’s get into specifics. It’s simple to get here, through Toronto or Houston. Rentacars are easy to get and the driving is on well maintained highways. And the accommodation – well, I’m sure you can find other places but Beso del Viento is absolutely a gem.
The European style rooms open out on a spacious immaculately groomed pool/ lawn with a prospect of the 2 metre Pacific surf on a long long smooth sand beach. The threat of malaria is a coast away. Long days of touring and snoozing end, after cocktails, on a tuneful note as Bernard whips up night after night of superb high French cuisine to the accompaniment of classic rock tunes we listen to from the porch. The other night we had a wonderful mahi-mahi in mustard cream sauce with escalopes of potato crowned by “nouvelle glace” almond ice cream [made by his hand] over an almond meringue. $100 US/ night, breakfast and dinner included!
And, most importantly, the place is kept scrupulously clean. It’s surprising how much the quality of where you stay sets the tone for the whole experience. Because everything beyond our venue is Pura Vida.
Dennis knows everything worth knowing about touring here. So he directs the show from our base of operations about 130 kms from San Jose, the capital. We are south of the populous Jaco Beach, with just enough time on the way down to stop on Tarcoles bridge to admire the antediluvian 7 meter crocodiles lounging in the river. Past our place on the main highway is the monkey mangrove tour – a delightful morning on a bayou watching monkeys play, meeting the Jesus lizard [walks on water], seeing many exciting birds and learning how mangroves are created and survive in tidal salt water. From there it’s a short jump to Rainforest to walk the forest canopy on swinging bridges closing off with a dip in a jungle waterfall pool right out of South Pacific. Down the road is the magnificent Manuel Antonio National Park, where we view sloths high in the trees, spot a couple of boat-billed herons, a coati and more monkeys. We didn’t get to the whales and dolphins, easily reachable.
Sure you can come here to go to the beach and hang out drinking in ocean facing bars. You can surf and scuba. But what is really unique is Pura Vida – the national celebration and veneration of the nature that just bursts forth as soon as the forest is left alone. No, they are not perfect stewards, but compared to many in developing countries, they’ve made the connection between looking after their world and their economic welfare. And they are that much more becoming for it.

Doug Bouey
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

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Doug Bouey, President
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

Calgary, AB // Phone: 403.777.1144


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