How Much “Pura Vida” Can I Fit in My Suitcase? Spencer Flynn

La Catarata La Paz (the waterfall of peace)

Costa Ricans live by a mantra: “Pura vida” or pure life. I think this photo of La Catarata La Paz (the waterfall of peace) near the beautiful Parque Nacional Volcán Poás captures the emotion behind that expression.

As a Duke student I pride myself on my work ethic, on my efficiency, on my ability to handle stress and busyness. And those are all great things. 

But the one-two punch of the tranquil beauty of Costa Rica's rain forests combined with the “pura vida” lifestyle of the Costa Ricans has shown me just how much life there is to be had when you can quiet yourself and just be present with family, friends, and yourself. In fact, Costa Rica is a third world country that has a life expectancy greater than the US—and I think one of the main reasons is their adherence to pura vida. 

I know I’ll always be a busy person. But I hope I can take a bit of pura vida back home with me and maybe even share it a little. I want to go to medical school when a graduate. If I could share even a little bit of pura vida with future patients, myself, and my family, I wonder what benefits we might all see—in longevity, life satisfaction, and depth of our relationships. 

Spencer Flynn 

Duke in Costa Rica, Summer 2016