¡Pura Vida!

You may recall that, back in September, I vacated Durham for a week in Costa Rica with my super-friend Shiv (a.k.a. my sister-wife). You’re most likely saying to yourself, “Well, that must’ve been pretty dope,” and if so, YOU ARE A GENIUS AND TOTALLY CORRECT.


  • We stayed at the base of a volcano for a coupla/three nights.
¿See it over there? ¡That’s Arenal!
  • We went to a hot spring spa and sat in 100-degree waterfalls that came off that volcano.
  • There was a parrot named Estefanía who lived at/around our hotel, and
she would harass the workers until they gave her bananas
or “bañañas” as Shiv and I took to calling them for no good reason.
  • All breakfasts included fried plantains. All breakfasts everywhere should include fried plantains.
  • We ziplined over the jungle.
Seriously. Will you look at that.
Shiv=badass (She kept wanting to go upside-down and stuff, and the guides were like, “OK, crazy lady.”)
  • We went on a gorgeous hike.


  • We met a baby sloth named Cheu, and
he did ET-phone-home finger with Shiv.
He also slothfully scratched his armpit for a long time. It was adorable.
  • We had two fantastic beach days.
Here I’m doing the Handstand Everywhere You Go requisite for people who do CrossFit. (I’m both proud of and embarrassed by this photo because, hey, that’s a pretty good handstand but, Jesús, you could land planes on my thighs.)

(I know. I need to cut that shit out.)

My favorite picture of the trip: Shiv en la bahía.

The only obstacles we had to overcome, other than the torrential rains for the first few days, were the incorrigible scavenger animals. To wit, the raccoons and coatis:

But also one morning, a band of capuchin monkeys terrorized/delighted (tomato/tomahto) the restaurant where we had our breakfast. I had wondered why the waitstaff didn’t put boxes of sugar packets on the tables — you had to ask for them — but it’s because the capuchins are junkie-monkeys. They will run through the restaurant, snatch the sugar packets right off your table (sometimes the whole box), and

scamper up the trees to get their fix.

The funniest part was that if they happened in their caper to grab any packets of artificial sweetener, they would throw them on the ground. (“Pump that garbage in another monkey’s face,” said the capuchins.)

[Side note: I told my 10-year-old niece this story, and she wrote the following poem.

Monkeys Don’t Like Splenda

I was sitting in the restaurant, (I was on vacation,)
I was taking lots of pictures I would send to my relations.
I got a big white envelope; it didn’t say the sender,
All it said upon its face was; MONKEYS DON’T LIKE SPLENDA.

I sat eating bananas, pondering those words,
I was in Costa Rica, but it did seem quite absurd.
Maybe they were picky eaters, or didn’t like the food,
Either way, this or that, I thought it was just rude.

I asked the waitress, bout the note, the manager’s the sender,
Each table gets one, and it’s true, that MONKEYS DON’T LIKE SPLENDA.

Then a monkey raced down and grabbed the sugar packets, 
Dumped the Splenda, dumped the box, and just made quite a racket.
I learned a quite good lesson; that healthy isn’t ALWAYS good,
Cause if monkeys don’t like Splenda, I don’t think that I should! 

I’m not biased or anything, but I’m pretty sure my niece is a genius?

End side note.]

Shiv and I sat on the beach late in the afternoon of our last day. Pieces of the navy blue mountains across the bay, which itself turned slowly from aqua to slate, chipped off and floated skyward. A lone trawler chugged its way toward the open Pacific. The branches of the guayaba tree stirred above us, and every time we stood up to leave, the yaw-kish of the waves hitting the beach lulled us back to our chairs,

while the sun became an ever-tinier pink sliver and disappeared.

The common Costa Rican expression pura vida means a lot of things, including hello and goodbye. If you say it about a person, it means s/he’s good people. But it also translates loosely as “Life is good”.

Which, in Costa Rica, it certainly was.

Pura vida.

12 thoughts on “¡Pura Vida!”

  1. Yes, your niece is a total genius. Excellent poem!

    Also, I’m a married mostly straight lady, but if I could, I would land my airplane right on your amazing handstanding thighs. Daaaaaaamn. Strong, amazing ladies FTW! So “cut that shit out.” ;)

    Pura vida, lady.

  2. Yes, Amy, cut that shit out! And you are right, your niece is a genius, and please take some credit for yourself you wonderful writer you!!!

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