Sometimes I wonder how my life might be different today, if I had never gone to Costa Rica. 

Would I still be sitting inside of a cubicle from 8am until 6pm? Would I still be spending half my pay check on designer shoes? Would I still be in that relationship that never felt right? Would I still be filled with anxiety, wondering what life was really about?

I’m glad I’ll never have to know.

I’m glad that four years ago I spontaneously bought a ticket, gave up my apartment, and put everything I owned into storage. I’m glad I took a risk by booking a little wooden house in the jungle for a month. I’m so glad I decided to go to Costa Rica, a decision that ultimately changed my life.

Since then I’ve sold everything that I owned for the freedom to live nomadically all over the world. I’ve trekked in the jungle in Colombia, driven motorbikes through rice fields in Indonesia, swam in waterfalls in Laos, surfed in the ocean in Morocco, and seen more of this beautiful world than I ever imagined I would.

But there is still nowhere else on earth that compares to Costa Rica.

From my own transformation, and the transformation I have witnessed in others, I recommend that everyone seeking the true meaning of life, spend time in Costa Rica.

Here is why:

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You Learn How Little You Need

I smile when I recall how I used to complain that I had nothing to wear. Or that nothing sounded good for dinner. Or that there was nothing to do on a Friday night with friends. These days I never have that problem. Because Costa Rica taught me to appreciate what I have, even the little things.

With abundant nature and the gorgeous ocean, it’s easy to embrace simplicity. Tourists and locals get around by bicycle, most activities involve being in nature, food is simple, local, and fresh, and people openly express gratitude. By focusing on the basic things that feel good, all of the luxurious extras don’t seem as important anymore. 

Now, when I’m presented with a closet full of clothes, a fridge packed with food, and endless opportunities for entertainment, I can appreciate all of it, without getting hung up on it. Because I know what is essential.

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You Allow Yourself to Relax

When you’ve lived most of your life in a state of constant “doing,” it’s amazing how good it feels to just do nothing. Costa Rica allows us to get back to the rhythm of nature, instead of the frantic rush of man.

In the beginning, when I got to my simple wooden house in the jungle, I was bored. Panicked even. What was I supposed to do? How would I fill my days? There were no restaurants or bars I could walk to. There was no television or wifi.

Though the ocean and the jungle quickly seduced me into a life of doing nothing. I spent my days taking long walks on the beach, reading in a hammock on my porch, swimming in the warm ocean, and practicing sunset yoga. I forgot about the busyness of my old life and I remembered how it felt to play like a child. I woke up to the experience of actually living.

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You Remember Your Place in Nature

When we spend time away from nature, we can quickly forget how essential it is. Yet the moment we escape to the mountains, the ocean, the forest, and the jungle, we instantly feel its healing powers.

In Costa Rica cloud forest covered mountains line the narrow highways. The calls of monkeys set the soundtrack for the day. Wild tropical fruit falls from the trees begging to be eaten. Miles of shoreline with black, white, pink, and golden sand are hugged by dense jungle filled with monkeys, sloths, and wildcats. Brilliant flowers and birds paint a rainbow of colors against the green landscape.

This rare freedom to simply be with nature lies at the heart of what makes Costa Rica so special. Being in nature this lush and beautiful not only heals us. It reminds us that just like the beautiful flowers and the crashing waves, we’re not broken to begin with.

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You Understand the Meaning of Happiness

Like many people, I once attributed my happiness to my outside circumstances. If I had a great boyfriend, then I would be happy. If I had the career of my dreams, then I would be happy. Consequently, my moments of happiness were fleeting.

Since traveling to Costa Rica, I’ve realized that happiness is far more expansive than I once thought. Happiness can actually be experienced in every moment.

This idea is embodied in the national mantra of Costa Rica: “Pura Vida.” Directly it translates to “pure life,” but it is used to express much more than that.

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When the sun is shining, you’re having fun with friends, you’re falling in love, and you’re riding the high of the wave, you absolutely say Pura Vida. But you also say Pura Vida in your moments of greatest struggle. When it’s pouring down rain, you’re fired from your job, and when you’re heartbroken, you still say Pura Vida.

Pura Vida means choosing the path of happiness regardless of your circumstances. That happiness exists eternally. That happiness requires simply turning within and acknowledging that happiness is not only a choice, happiness is your true nature.

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You Open Yourself to the Magic

In a world where we value practicality over dreams and intellect over emotions, it’s easy to lose sight of magic. In fact, it’s easy to doubt that magic even exists. In Costa Rica, magic is everywhere.

There’s an inexplicable feeling you get when you sit on a deserted beach along at sunrise. Or when you watch hundreds of white birds flock to the same island every evening at sunset. There’s a spectacular wonder when a glowing blue butterfly as big as both of your hands stops to kiss your nose in the jungle. The world stops being an accumulation of numbers and facts, and becomes a wonderful mystery.

To me, that’s pure magic. That’s Pura Vida. That’s Costa Rica.

Want to plan your own life-changing trip to Costa Rica? My Ultimate Guide to Costa Rica will show you how. Download your copy instantly HERE.

Camille ditched the American Dream 4 years ago to chase her own to the Caribbean jungle of Costa Rica. Since then she has traveled all over the world as a digital nomad, inspiring others to follow their dreams and live their bliss through her blog This American Girl and her ebook The Ultimate Guide to Costa Rica. She’s also a certified yoga teacher, green smoothie lover, nature fanatic, and proudly calls Costa Rica her home.

One Response so far.

  1. Pura vida Camille! Hope to see you here on August :)

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