I had absolutely no idea what to expect on the three hour drive from Heredia to Monteverde. Maybe we would see some trees, since we are driving up a mountain. At the most, I thought I might see a few coffee plants like on the way to Doka Estates. I was not expecting to see the quintessential Pura Vida community.
After leaving the rest stop, the halfway point on our journey, there were many street shops and markets. I saw everything on the side of that highway from multiple sodas, to roadside bars, to fish markets. When I first pictured what my two weeks in Costa Rica would be like, this was what I imagined. We passed little developments of shack-like houses, with metal roofs and laundry hanging outside, scattered through trees and winding, unpaved roads. Almost every house had someone outside of it, either talking with a neighbor or hanging laundry. The houses looked under developed relative to our Heredia homestays. Their fences, large sticks strung together with what looked like fishing wire, gave the same impression. Almost instantly, the trees opened up to miles of beaches and a huge body of water, I’m assuming the Pacific Ocean, with mountains barely visible in the background. A ways behind the beach were little houses that looked similar to the ones we passed earlier, but these were very colorful. They also had people out and about around them and looked under developed. People were active on the sidewalk next to the highway. A mother walking hand in hand with her daughter, a man walking towards the water holding his pots and pans, and innumerable people riding beach cruisers, one even had a surf board attached to it. For a while, the scene alternated between colorful neighborhoods, hotels, and then more road side shops. Surprisingly, the colorful houses, blue water, and green trees were complimented by trash bags thrown on the side of the road and as much litter as bikes. I think these communities are the typical beach town Ticos. These are the people that embody the Pura Vida saying.
Farther up the mountain reminded me, for a split second, of Heredia. Almost as fast as I could type that sentence, we passed more shack-like houses on hills. The only way to get to them seemed to be by going up mud-made stairs. There were dogs running around them and some even had open fields nearby filled with cows and goats.
Since arriving in Costa Rica, it is clear that the diversity in the country is unparalleled, not only in the types of people I’ve met, but the economic classes as well. Even within our homestays, some of us are in middle class homes while others are in gated communities with two story homes, the diversity is present. Today we have driven through another level of the country and I am curious as to the way the ‘Pura Vida’ Ticos go about their day.