Pura vida. Pronounced POO-rah VEE-dah, in English means, “Pure Life”.  However, these two words have much more meaning throughout the Costa Rican culture. The term “Pura Vida” has been present in Costa Rican dialect for over 50 years.  Although Pura Vida has a simple English translation, it has a far more profound meaning to the people of Costa Rica (Ticos), and anyone spending any amount of time there.

But from where did Costa Ricans take this phrase? According to a study of the expression, a film called Pura vida came to Costa Rica from Mexico in 1956, directed by Gilberto Martinez Solares.  In the movie, “Pura vida” is the expression of eternal optimism used by a comic character, played by the actor Antonio Espino, who unfortunately can’t seem to do anything right. While a small population used it then, the phrase “Pura vida” was used nationwide by 1970.

Associated with many different English interpretations like “pure life”, “take it easy”, “enjoy life”, “all good”, “purity in life”, “hello”, “goodbye”, “this is life!” and many others.  The point is that foreigners truly don’t have a true grasp of the meaning of “pura vida” as they are not Costa Ricans themselves.

Pura vida! Means that no matter what your current situation is, life for someone else can always be less fortunate than your own. So you need to consider that maybe…just maybe, your situation isn’t all that bad and that no matter how little or how much you have in life, we are all here together and life is short…so start living it “pura vida style”.

Beginning to understand now, the true meaning of the uniquely Costa Rican term, “Pura Vida”? Think about it: the more “foreigners” who truly grasp the concept, the better the world would be.  Imagine if countries like the USA or Canada or in Europe started to live life like the Costa Ricans and adopted the pura vida lifestyle.  Because, no matter how much of a mess your life may seem, there is always someone else who’s life would make yours look like a vacation in paradise.

Perhaps some examples would explain in a better way how Pura Vida is used in Costa Rica:

-Hi Maria, Pura Vida?     (response)  Very well, thank God.

-See you tomorrow!     (response)  Pura Vida, bye!

-Hey, Felipe! How’s it going?     (response)  Pura Vida, and you?

-Thank you very much!     (response)  Pura Vida!

-Do you know Maria?     (response)  Sure! She’s very Pura Vida.

So, if you want to know what living a peaceful, simple, uncluttered life with a deep appreciation for nature, family and friends, just go to Costa Rica and experience it yourself! PURA VIDA!