Pura Vida from Costa Rica

At one of the beautiful national parks of Costa Rica

Tonight is my very last night living in Costa Rica. Over the course of the past several months, I have been living in Playas del Coco, Guanacaste to try to find some normalcy in the context of the global pandemic. I was originally supposed to come down here to complete my Scuba Diving instructor course in April, but Covid, of course, had other plans. 

This past decade, Scuba Diving has become my favorite pastime, as words cannot adequately describe what it is like to experience life 100 feet underwater. Although I thought I was only going to be here for two weeks, I fell so much in love with the “pura vida” lifestyle that I extended my trip by a few months – and with most schools operating remotely right now, why not work from Costa Rica?

The term pura vida, I have learned, means a lot more than the direct translation of “pure life.” A lot of Ticos around here use the phrase to say hello and goodbye, to be grateful for what they have, and also as a way of saying “it is what it is,” like when you get a parking ticket, I suppose. I felt the pura vida hospitality from the Costa Ricans and fellow travelers as soon as I landed in Liberia.

With a White Tipped Reef Shark, taken by my friend Manuel

As part of my instructor course, I have been living in a house with other dive masters and instructors from all over the world. Lucy is from the UK, Bo is from the Netherlands, Ashley is from Australia, and Luis, René, and Manuel all live in Costa Rica. I have loved getting to know this group so much – and am so happy that we were able to celebrate Thanksgiving, my birthday, Christmas, and New Year’s together. 

Celebrating Thanksgiving with my new friends
Teaching during the IE

My Instructor Development Course – or the IDC, as we refer to it as, was a fun, stressful, exhausting two weeks that ended in the Instructor Exam, or IE. During the IDC, our group truly came together as a family and helped each other out tremendously. I was the weakest diver in the group but found that I was able to support my friends with the teaching part of becoming an instructor, and they all helped me with practice skills in the pool long after the IDC part of our day was over. 

Our Course Director, with a background in the Dutch Navy, had very high expectations of us during the IDC and kept on telling us that the IE jokingly stands for “it’s easy.” Although there were many moments where I honestly did not know if I was going to be able to finish the IDC and pass the IE, all six of us passed with flying colors! 

Celebrating on the beach after a successful IE!!!

Between attending scuba classes, working remotely, and exploring the country these past few months, Costa Rica has truly lived up to my wildest expectations. Truth be told, I do not think I have ever felt so grounded in my entire life. While I have mixed feeling about going back, and is mainly motivated by my desire to finish my doctorate, I think my next scuba trip is going to be a big one – maybe to the Galapagos? We shall see what 2022 has in store for me. Until then, as we say in Costa Rica – ¡Pura Vida!

¡Pura vida from Costa Rica!