If there were just one phrase to evoke Costa Rica it would be ¡Pura Vida!
“What does it mean?” you ask.
Well, it’s roughly the equivalent of bula bula! (pronounced mboola mboola) – or more formally – ni sa bula vinaka! (pronounced nee-sahm-boola-vee-nahka!) in Fijian.
“Thanks for nothing!” you say if you’ve never visited Costa Rica or the Fiji islands.
Literally “pura vida” translates from Spanish to English as “pure life,” but it can mean much more than that. Like it’s south Pacific cousin, bula, it can mean hello, goodbye, good luck, that’s the way the cookie crumbles, now this is living, that’s life with a shrug, and even gesundheit depending on the context. When we hear Ticos use it we insert the literal translation and it always seems to make sense.
Unfortunately, both phrases seem to be falling out of popular usage as they’re absorbed by global pop-culture, utilized as marketing slogans by the tourism boards of their respective countries and converted into trademarks for clothing companies (bula fashions are a little bizarre because they specialize in snowboard apparel…) but we like the original spirit of well wishes and can’t resist saying ¡Pura Vida! for now,
Ray and Sue