Moving to the U.S. has been a very interesting transition for me. I have experienced many challenges, discoveries and cultural adjustments that I have gone through in order to feel more at home. However, my home culture still resides deeply within me and I have learned to appreciate it even more.
In Costa Rica, the land of Pura Vida, it’s hard not to feel at home. Our life motto, which means pure life, inspires all that we do. Sundays amongst ticos (how Costa Ricans like to be called) are a celebration of family, food and friends. To us, family is extremely important, and it is not only blood related. My parents’ best friends are my aunts and uncles and my cousins are my sisters and brothers. When we get together to celebrate birthdays, holidays, or simply the fact that it’s the weekend, we all cook our favorite meals, dance together and talk for hours. We deeply respect our grandparents; we consider them our families’ treasure. You are never too busy to visit your abuelos.
In Costa Rica it is very common to visit someone’s house just to have coffee… however, if you are invited, you should stop by the local panaderia and buy some fresh and warm bread to bring to the coffee hour. As you might know, Costa Rica produces some of the best coffee in the world of which we are very proud. That is why coffee is so important but also, so common for us.
My favorite part about living in Costa Rica is traveling. We are a very mall country in size, but incredibly rich and biodiverse. In fact, the Osa Peninsula was called the most biologically intense place on Earth by National Geographic. Wherever you go in Costa Rica, especially in the more rural areas, you will see lots of green, many exotic and colorful plants, and animals running around. If you are in the city, it only takes a 2-hour drive to the beach, or a volcano, or hot springs, or a coffee tour, or doing zip lining in the middle of the jungle, or river rafting… call that adventure! Growing up my favorite memories are going to the turquoise water beaches, sinking in the sand and being mesmerized by the immensity of Arenal Volcano. Being surrounded by nature definitely gives you a different perspective of life.
In the city, there is so much to do! I love the hundreds of different coffee houses we have everywhere. We have amazing museums where you can learn more about our history and culture. My favorite is the Jade Museum where hundreds of Pre-Colombian gold and jade pieces are displayed along with a tour of Costa Rica’s history.
Besides our travel adventures, I miss having gallo pinto for breakfast, breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, and seeing so much tropical green. I miss my people and their warmth, but I know I can always come back home. I feel so honored and blessed to have been born Costa Rican and I am glad I shared a little bit about my treasures with you. Pura vida!
Valeria Saborio is from Costa Rica and is pursuing her Industrial and Systems Engineering degree at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada.