¡Pura Vida!

Where Did ‘Pura Vida’ Come From, Anyway?

October 12, 2017

Ahhhhh pura vida! We just love that phrase, don’t you?

If you’re not familiar, ‘pura vida’ (poo-rah vee-dah) means “the pure life” in literal translation… However, you will undoubtedly hear this phrase non-stop in Costa Rica as a term of gratitude, as a response to “how are you”, as a replacement for “you’re welcome”, or even just as a random outburst of excitement. It’s the nation’s unofficial slogan, and beyond that, it truly is a tico way of life: a Costa Rican hakuna matata, if you will.

We must admit that pura vida sure is contagious. This got us thinking: who is to blame (or thank, rather) for giving us this Pura Vida Fever?

One would assume that such an iconic expression must stem from a monumental event in Costa Rican history, or perhaps was the catchphrase of a beloved president from long ago.  However, that’s not quite the case…

All signs point to a gentleman by the name of Gilberto Martinez Solares, the director of a 1956 Mexican film by the name of — what other than —  Pura Vida. The film tells a story of a luckless man who encountered countless misfortunes. Despite his negative circumstances the character would exclaim “pura vida” to keep a positive outlook on otherwise bleak situations.

Click here to watch a clip from Pura Vida

The film made its way to Costa Rica in the 50’s, and by the 70’s the phrase had taken popularity and was making its mark as the nation’s motto, perfectly expressing ticos’ zest for life and positive outlook on every situation.

If you’ve ever visited Costa Rica, it’s easy to see why this idiom has gained such popularity. Down here it’s pura vida indeed. And if you’ve never visited Costa Rica… Well, what are you waiting for?!

Pura Vida,

Tulemar