A first taste of Pura Vida

Vienna International Airport, Schwechat, 18.06.16 – 3.35 PM

I’m sitting in a cubicle watching people pass, and writing. This is my very first entry in my brand new blog, and all I can think about is how funny these Austrian Airlines hostesses look all dressed in red. I wonder if the company’s policy includes wearing red underwear, too.

As it always happens before a new trip, last night I couldn’t really sleep, so I’m both tired and thrilled. It’s the usual feeling before a new adventure: leaving the daily routine to sail towards an unexpected future. I have a whole month in Costa Rica ahead of me, and anything could happen. No real plan, no fixed destination: just the usual, irresistible will to travel. Alone or with people, I shall find out on the way.


Bus to San José, 19.06.16 – 6.30 AM

My first regret was to be traveling at night and therefore not being able to appreciate the views of the country from the air. But the feeling was just as magnificent, or even more, when seeing the light cast by the eruption of Volcano Turrialba while landing.

  • How many days are you staying in Costa Rica?, they asked me at the immigration.
  • One month, I replied.
  • I’ll put three months, then, in case you find a boyfriend.

Bienvenida, Pura Vida.


Soda Tala, Mercado Central de San José – 10.40 AM

Having a jugo de cas and waiting for my first gallo pinto. I’m quite lost, and I love every single bite of it.


Costa Rica Backpackers – 4 PM

Chilling by the pool drinking Costa Rican coffee and watching a yellow bird jumping from one tree straight into the swimming pool, and then up to the other tree.


Chicharronera Real El Brujo, on my way to Puerto Jiménez, 20.05.16 – 12.40 PM

Sipping my first Imperial with good salsa in the background, life feels so good. I’m crossing the country via the Interamericana. We passed Cerro de la Muerte in insane conditions – sometimes the fog was so thick that the driver had to blow the horn to make himself visible. We passed the ubiquitous Del Monte pineapple plantations and some indigenous reservations. It’s so green, so wild, and so beautiful.


Eco Lodge La Leona, Corcovado National Park, 22.05.16 – no idea of the time.

I asked people what Pura Vida means to them. Colleen described it as a slow-paced life, where people are happier and more relaxed.

For Jeison, Pura Vida is waking up in his wooden house and seeing monkeys around him; it’s sitting in the patio to work while enjoying his coffee, it’s having a beer with friends. He has left his job at Amazon in Bratislava to relocate to Heredia, but was then offered a journalist job in his town and decided to go for it. His life has changed a lot in the past few months, and he looks like the happiest person on Earth.

For me, Pura Vida is everything I am surrounded by now. It means walking barefoot, wearing no make-up and no watch. Yes, because in the past two days, I have had no idea of what time it was.

Pura Vida means no phone, no Internet connection, no Facebook nor Hotmail. It means positive energy, relax, no real plan and nature, a lot of nature.

Everything here is so alive: everything breathes life, screams life. The jungle is populated with animals: howling monkeys, toucans, purple crabs and huge, blue butterflies. The trees are so old and imposing that you can feel the energy and the magic they spread.


It is just the fourth day of my Costa Rican adventure and I already feel very different. I have barely taken out my Nikon, I am simply living 100% of every moment.

Sipping a cold Imperial sitting inside a small and dark bar, while a tipsy and not so young couple dances a YouTube merengue played from a mobile phone, I feel as if I was the main character of one of those travel movies I love to watch.

At the BBQ alcohol was flowing and people were getting friendly. Life and travel stories from Costa Rica, the USA, Argentina and Spain intertwined with mine.

Colleen and Reyner have a butterfly house in the village and they’re now building a green house, collecting seeds here and there. Jonatan is from Spain and moved here after a life within the Jehovah’s witnesses and a failed marriage; he wakes up every day at 3 AM to bake and then sell his donuts and falafels to the people of Puerto Jiménez.

Melisa, a designer and photographer from Argentina, is traveling Latin America and couch surfing whenever she can. It was with her and with the Tico-American couple that we came the next day to this other corner of paradise.


The basic concept of an eco-lodge is to apply sustainable practices by reducing environmental impact, considering social responsibilities and conserving local cultural values. And La Leona is a place to die for. The comfortable tents are immersed in the jungle of Corcovado National Park, the water flows cold out of the open showers made of coconuts (you can see iguanas and hummingbirds while showering, how cool is that?) and the place becomes even more magical when lit by the candle lights.

People here do not talk about work, football and shopping. They talk about the trees they want to plant and the taste of a pineapple. Everything is genuine, natural, and real.

In the morning we hiked the self-guided trail, and then we just enjoyed the sound of the waves against the black sand, looking at parrots and other tropical birds flying over us – losing track of time.

Melissa and I are staying one more night. We both share the same passion for traveling and photography. She has so many good stories to tell and I feel perfectly understood when I tell her mine.


She’s been traveling since last December. She’s couch surfing everywhere she can, doing some designing job here and there and selling her beautiful camera straps. She’s just a pleasure to be around and makes me wonder whether I should just quit my job and travel the world by volunteering and just see what comes. I am really tempted to leave the standard path, at least for a while.


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6 Responses

  1. Zuza says:

    Ahoj Elenka,

    I had the pleasure of meeting Jeison and I am so happy for him!
    But that is not the main idea I want to write you. In this everyday routine, there is no time for us to talk about how was your trip going day-after-day. So I really appreciate that you started this blog which is making me feeling so free and happy while reading it.
    Please ensure me that you will continue with your traveling. I think that every person who was lucky enough to knew you better can see the difference between the ‘Routine Elena’ and the ‘Super Happy Positive Elena’ I fell in love with.
    I think that you have the power of changing lives of others in very positive way. You also changed mine and I can say you saved me from wasting it completely.
    I also want to stress out your ‘second superpower’ and it is the capability of analyses, understanding and complete immersion into any other culture you are interacting with. I can say that because I am the witness of this perfect integration.

    I just want to tell you ‘Thank You so much for being the part of my life’ an please continue to enjoy yours as much as possible. Share your stories because they can make people like me happy.

    With love,

    • Elena says:

      Moja milá Zuzanicka,

      Thank YOU for coming into my life and for showing me the best traditions of your beautiful country. I wish you keep opening up to the world and to new adventures, and that you never stop searching for happiness.


  2. Marta Panco says:

    Elena, you are so great and inspiring with your passion for life. You know how to enjoy each moment of your life and inspire people to do the same. Besides, we live it through your lenses, as your share the passion for travel in your photos. Amazing job and blog, continue this way and follow your dreams! Make people happy and love all you do!

    Thanks for being being a crazy woman and remind us that the life is PURA VIDA!


    • Elena says:


      People like me are inspired by people like you. Keep enjoying your Pura Vida in Kenya or wherever you will decide to lead your steps, you know I’m extremely proud of you for what you are doing. Great things come to those who open their minds to new opportunities!



  3. Ani Georgieva says:

    Ciao Elenka 🙂

    I thought I’d also leave a small comment how much I like your blog and your stories.
    I’m having a cup of coffe now, sitting outside and reading and traveling at the same time through your writings.

    Thank you for this experience and wishing you many more travels. I hope I’ll be able to visit at least some of these wonderful places.


    • Elena says:

      Zdrasti Ani,

      Thank you very much for stopping by 🙂 I hope I can accompany many more coffees while making your mind travel – and soon your body, too!

      Have a lovely evening,


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