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Costa Rica is an unusual animal in Central America, being one of the few countries in that part of the world to boast a relatively conflict free history.

Certainly they were annexed by Spain and went through a civil war, but the government was declared a democracy in 1869 — at an earlier stage than many countries that still haven’t been declared as such.

I found modern Costa Rica to be a milieu of intense nature and laid back locals. I woke up to howler monkeys, scarlet macaws, large insects scaling my walls and frogs chortling.

When a Costa Rican utters ‘Pura Vida” it’s not a flippant term tossed at your feet. Pura Vida means “pure life” — and Costa Ricans really believe in this — encompassing the good life. One of family, love and a deep connection to their environment.

There’s a high number of farmers selling Costa Rican products like coffee, bananas and cacao (chocolate).

This philosophy explains the government’s unwavering stance on eco-preservation, which makes Costa Rica one of the big players in eco-tourism.

I spent most of my time at the Osa Peninsula volunteering at a yoga resort on the Pacific side —  the southeastern corner of the country.

For myself — I’ve discovered how much I love simplicity. I ask for only a few things now that truly satisfy me.

To be near water and nature is balm to my soul.

To have space for my daily yoga practice.

To write everyday.

Oh, and have access to yummy food.

Costa Rica taught me all this. That’s why I’m blessed and grateful.

 Food

Fish ceviche and patacones

Fish ceviche and patacones

Churro baby, with a marshmallow!

Churro baby, with a marshmallow!

Animals

Bird in flight

Bird in flight

At rest by the nest

At rest by the nest

Horses were introduced to Costa Rica through colonialism

Horses were introduced to Costa Rica through colonialism

They are highly sociable animals

They are highly sociable animals

In search of bottlenose dolphins on the Osa!

In search of bottlenose dolphins on the Osa!

They loved to swim by the boat

They loved to swim by the boat

And splash us! Playful creatures

And splash us! Playful creatures

Scenery

Fishermen coming home

Fishermen coming home

Boats bobbing in Golfo Dulce

Boats bobbing in Golfo Dulce

Force of nature at Playa Platanares

Force of nature at Playa Platanares

The Osa has the best sunrises I've ever seen

The Osa has the best sunrises I’ve ever seen

On a boat to explore nearby mangroves

On a boat to explore nearby mangroves

Heading towards the mangroves with beautiful scenery as our backdrop

Heading towards the mangroves with beautiful scenery as our backdrop

Inside the center of a tea plant - from the mangroves

Inside the center of a tea plant – from the mangroves

The Osa is one of three tropical fjords in the world!

The Osa is one of three tropical fjords in the world!

Waterfall spilling forth from the fjord

Waterfall spilling forth from the fjord

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I realize I’ve left out two of the most sought after wildlife species — scarlet macaws and sloths. Macaws move quickly and I lacked a decent zoom lens to capture them. Those dang sloths also eluded me because I never got the opportunity to visit an area where they lived!

Oh well, next time.