Post Tagged with "Central America"

A Costa Rican Wedding

Getting married is a very important social event in Costa Rica, as it symbolizes a new stage in life. A tradition still practiced today is the “serenata”, which usually takes place some days before the wedding ceremony. The groom arrives at his girlfriend’s house, by surprise, with his friends and a group of musicians who sing traditional romantic songs while the bride, her family and friends listen to it inside the house for some minutes before going out. In addition, it is customary for the groom to bring some roses for the bride.

Wedding bouquet
The Wedding Bouquet (Photo by Laura Pardo)


March 1, 2011 12 comments

The Challenge of Climbing Chirripó: The Highest Peak in Costa Rica

Excitement. Tiredness. Astonishment. Those words describe my journey to Chirripó. Climbing the highest mountain in Costa Rica, with an altitude of 3,820 meters, is something I longed for my entire life, and I can dare to affirm it is in every Costa Rican’s adventurous soul.

Los Crestone seen from far away
Los Crestone seen from far away


February 9, 2011 12 comments

Costa Rica is “pura vida”!

If someone asked me to describe my country in one or two words, I wouldn’t think twice about it.

Pura vida” would be the answer. The most commonly used phrase in Costa Rica literally means “Pure life”, but the saying goes beyond its simple translation: it’s a way of life. Contextually, then, it symbolizes the idea of simply enjoying life and being happy. As the Urban Dictionary states, it’s a synonym of “hakuna matata” and reflects the relaxed lifestyle of Costa Ricans.

Foreigners can hear this Spanish expression in informal settings as a greeting, a farewell and as a way to express gratitude or satisfaction. It can also refer to someone who is nice and friendly.

-¡Hola Tamara!, ¿Pura vida?              -Hi Tamara, ¿Pura vida?

-Muy bien, gracias a Dios.                   -Very well, thank God.


-¡Diay Felipe! ¿Cómo vas?                  -Hey, Felipe! How’s it going?

-Pura vida, ¿y vos?                             -Pura vida, and you?


-¡Nos vemos mañana!                          -See you tomorrow!

-Pura vida, ¡chao!                               -Pura vida, bye!


-¡Muchas gracias!                                -Thank you very much!

Pura vida!                                         Pura vida!


-¿Usted conoce a María?                    -Do you know Maria?

-¡Claro! Ella es muy pura vida.           -Sure! She’s very pura vida.


But where did Costa Ricans take this phrase from? According to a study of the expression by Anna Marie Trester, a film called Pura vida came to Costa Rica from Mexico in 1956, directed by Gilberto Martínez 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.

Since this exclamation has become so popular in Costa Rica throughout the years, it is now common to find different kinds of businesses named “Pura vida”. Touristic ones such as hotels, language schools, travel and real state agencies, among others, make use of this idiomatic expression, even outside Costa Rica. Along with businesses and advertisement, the phrase is a must in souvenirs of all kinds. That’s the reason why “Pura vida” is even found in Costa Rican Spanish dictionaries.

Happiness, well-being, conformity and satisfaction is what “Pura vida” reflects; it identifies a Costa Rican wherever he or she may be. When you say, hear or see “Pura vida”, the facial expression of the person changes and a smile is drawn on his face. It is a very meaningful word for us “ticos” (Costa Ricans) because it reminds us of home and its beauty.

Just as Dr. Delise Dickard expressed in her article The simple bliss of ‘pura vida, even a tourist can understand what “pura vida” means by spending some time in this small country in Central America.

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

Read more:
The world’s happiest country celebrates peace and freedom
What do Costa Ricans eat for breakfast? – Gallo Pinto
Kiss, hug or shake hands? Greetings around the world

January 26, 2010 33 comments

Gallo Pinto: The Typical Costa Rican Breakfast

(Introduction by Liz) Today we’re very pleased to introduce the newest member of the PocketCultures team, Nuria Villalobos from Costa Rica. Read her first post for PocketCultures here below.

Costa Rica is synonym of peace, happiness, nature and great food. The most typical dish for breakfast is called “Gallo Pinto”, literally translated ‘Spotted Rooster’. Its name doesn’t have anything to do with its ingredients though since they are basically white rice and black beans. Yes, you heard right: rice and beans for breakfast!

This national dish can be made in different ways but it is usually prepared with onions, red peppers, cilantro and the not-to-be-missed ingredient: Lizano Sauce. This 100% Costa Rican sauce was produced by the company Lizano in 1920 and although its recipe is secret, it is known to contain onion, carrot, cauliflower and cucumber. This sauce is neither sweet nor sour and it has a strong smell to spices. It is very tasty and therefore used in many Costa Rican dishes.

The gallo pinto has its origins in the Caribbean islands where the rice and beans combination was spread. This dish came along with the arrival of the African American workers coming from Jamaica to the province of Limón, Costa Rica. Its current name was not giving to it until workers from the Central Valley went to Limón to help build the railroad and therefore tasted this food. As a result, in the 1930’s the gallo pinto became popular in the rest of the country.

Although in different versions, this dish is also eaten in Nicaragua and other countries such as Cuba, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. In Costa Rica, the gallo pinto, known as rice and beans in Limón and prepared with coconut oil, can be accompanied with eggs, cheese, corn tortillas, sour cream and fried ripe plantains.

Make sure you get a taste of Costa Rica in your next visit by trying the famous gallo pinto!

Read More:
Everything you need to know about Argentinean empanadas!
Ceviche: the taste of summer in Lima
Feijoada in Brazil

August 14, 2009 35 comments