The Meaning of Pura Vida – The Most Infectious Spanish Expression

The Costa Ricans have quite a fruitful imagery. They light-heartedly refer their better halves as ‘media naranja’, which means the other half of my orange. You know with that horn of plenty of citrusy fruits, they thought they could turn them into romantic allusions. This is again a ‘Pura vida’ thing.

By now we are sure you all are gagging to know what ‘Pura Vida’ means and how it is pronounced. ‘Pura Vida’ literally means ‘Pure Life’ and its pronunciation is definitely not unmerciful like French or German; it is simply ‘POO-rah VEE-dah’. It sounds raw and unpretentious, just like its beautiful people.

What is really intriguing and bamboozling, at the same time is the application of this phrase. And by that we mean just about anything and everything where ‘Pure Life’ would seem like fitting a square peg in a round hole.

For example, if you pose a weakly constructed question to a local, which did not make any sense to you while you indistinctly blabbered it let alone for the unassuming gentleman to decode it; he will blithely respond, “Pura Vida”.

What if you didn’t necessarily get the expected answer, the spryly uttered national phrase conveyed a profound answer than you could ever expect amidst your mortal worries, “Take it easy”. Your knitted brows will soon unravel with that insouciant yet warm attitude.

Let’s come to the versatility of this word. This ever brimming phrase of hopefulness comes from a Mexican movie called Pura Vida! directed by Gilberto Martínez Solares in 1956. The protagonist of this movie probably took liking to this phrase or he must have figured that he dimpled the most when he said it so he kept repeating it throughout the movie.

We are just saying. But when actor Antonio Espino iterated it in the movie, little would he have known that his catch phrase would be reckoned in the likes of ‘D’oh’s and ‘Yabba dabba doo’s. Forget that, ‘Pura vida’ is a much bigger sensation and on the tip of the tongue of every air kissing Tico (Costa Rican colloquial term for a native).

Pura Vida is a nationwide heavily embraced expression which can be found on business cards, food trucks, souvenirs, spas, restaurants, language schools, as a tag-line of real-estate agencies, on the back of tourist buses, advertisements, oh boy! The whole Costa Rica has pura vida writ large on its geography, wildlife, culture, food, and people.

It’s application covers a spectrum of emotions – happiness, surprise, indifference, all things positive, even if a thing is not, the Ticos just break into a warm smile and “Pura Vida” it (we could even use this as a happiness spell). It is used to replace “Hi, “Bye-bye”, “No worries”, “All good”, “Take it easy”, “This is Life”, “Enjoy life”, and “Pure Life”.

On a serious note folks, pura vida reflects the positive stance of the Costa Ricans on all things of life. No matter how harangued you are by problems, stress, worries, bills, and negativity, in all, you are still living and fortunate enough to have adequate means and people around who love you.

Life is like holding a handful of sand in your fist, it’s slipping no matter how hard you tighten your grip. So while, it is in there, feel every grain of it than worry over what’s inescapable.

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