In Latin American culture, where the nuclear family dominates many aspects of life, relationships thrive anywhere but the home.
So, Ahora lo hago means “I’ll do it later” or “I’ll do it in a while,” not “I’ll do it now.” Every year without fail, at the end of Costa Rican summer (see #8 above), the yigüirro, or clay-colored thrush, sings to welcome the start of the rainy season.From my own bench nearby, I wonder how awful I must look. However, for Valentine’s Day, my plan seems rather rational. The boyfriend waves at some far corner of Parque Morazán.This year I approach my 20-something peers who occupy parks in San José and ask them: “Why do you have to be so brazen about being in a relationship? His girlfriend, with her head pressed against his chest, takes a phone call as I shuffle off in another direction.Photo: Joi You’ll hear Costa Ricans — or Ticos, as they call themselves — use this expression all the time. Many buildings and homes don’t have addresses in Costa Rica, and generally only major or historic thoroughfares are named. Costa Rica is spectacular proof that big things come in small packages.Literally translating to “pure life,” pura vida can mean “great,” “hello,” “nice to meet you,” “thank you,” or “you’re welcome.” But “pure life” is also a philosophy: It’s about taking pleasure in the simple things, eschewing stress and living in peace (Costa Rica has no army) and in harmony with nature (nearly 27% of Costa Rica’s 19,700 square miles of land is protected in parks and reserves). Instead, Ticos use landmarks, and distances from them, as directions. You can drive from the Pacific coast to the Atlantic/Caribbean coast in as little as six hours, yet the country’s diversity is astonishing — from towering volcanoes like the iconic Arenal; to the tropical dry forests of Guanacaste province; to the misty cloud forests of Monteverde; to 12,500ft Cerro Chirripó, the country’s highest peak; to the lowland tropical rainforest of Corcovado; to the beaches, coral reefs, and mangrove forests of the coasts. A newcomer to Costa Rica might visit a local kitchen and wonder what purpose a sock suspended from a little stand could serve.