If you have traveled to Costa Rica, you have heard the term “pura vida”. Literally translated, it means “pure life”, but most foreigners transform it into a chilled-out, surfer expression meaning, “life is good” or something to that effect. However, if you listen closely, you notice that Ticos (Costa Ricans) use it as a greeting, in gratitude, to explain how they are feeling or even to describe a person’s character. You begin to realize that “pura vida” has a more profound meaning than you thought.
Sitting on a beach in Nicoya, our local guide explains that we are currently in one of five ‘blue zones’ of the world. For those who don’t know (I didn’t), blue zones are longevity hotspots – Five precise points on the globe where people live the longest. Costa Rica already has one of the highest life expectancies in the world, but the Nicoya Peninsula goes beyond that, as one of these hotspots, with high statistics of people living up to 100 years old.
Subconsciously, I inhale deeply, as if the humid and salty sea air will infuse a little of this magic into my body. Perhaps the magic isn’t only in the clean air they breathe. Like the saying goes…there must be something in the water. In Nicoya, that something is calcium – lots of it. This helps fight heart disease and build stronger bones. Furthermore, all those volcanoes produce sulphur-rich, anti-bacterial mud, which does wonders for the skin. The humidity is good for the respiratory system and ample sun provides vitamin D. So, it is no surprise that this is a popular spot for wellness journeys, such as yoga retreats and spa vacations.
According to the blue zone study, there are many more factors, such as diet, activity level, ambition, socialization and much more, that make up this remarkable statistic. I am sure the pura vida philosophy has something to do with it too. No doubt, there is a life-loving state of mind in Costa Rica.
As we traveled through Nicoya for a few days, we sampled a bit of the blue zone lifestyle through the food we ate, the activities we enjoyed and the people we met. I am guessing that one visit to this bright and breezy country is probably not going to extend my life. However, I am quite certain that a little bit of magic penetrated into my sun-kissed shoulders or stowed away in my sand-filled suitcase, because I feel healthier and more relaxed upon my return. And if it wasn’t enough, I guess I’ll just have to go back for another dose.
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