Our trip to Costa Rica was absolutely wonderful. I had never traveled to any other Latin American country before, so I was really anxious and excited! One of my father's good friends lives in San Jose, Costa Rica, and I've always heard nothing but positive things about this tiny country. Ticos (that's what Costa Ricans call themselves) are really friendly people. Whenever we expressed our gratitude, those who served us would say "con mucho gusto" (with much pleasure). Pura vida ("pure life") is also a common expression Ticos use to greet each other. Even the country's official tourist Web site says: "No artificial ingredients." Costa Rica really is a place filled with natural beauty. The video above was taken at my favorite destination in Costa Rica, Parque Manuel Antonio. We saw monkeys in every national park we visited.
We traveled throughout the country by bus, which was not always comfortable, but we were able to get a more intimate experience with the local culture. I tremendously enjoyed listening to Costa Rican Spanish, because it's not Spanglish! Ticos speak much slower than boricuas (Puerto Ricans) and much clearer. Being able to speak Spanish to the locals was definitely a big advantage too. It was nice chatting with the receptionists, taxi-drivers, and waiters we came across. Pura vida!