Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Embracing Pura Vida by Andrea Cantalupa

At the Costa Rican Language Academy in San Jose, each member of the OTS Tropical Diseases course is taking a class in Costa Rican language and culture. Upon entering the classroom on the first day of class, my teacher immediately made sure that the class was familiar with the Costa Rican concept of “pura vida.” The phrase “pura vida” can be used in a variety of ways in Costa Rican culture, whether it be wishing someone well, saying thank you, hello, or goodbye. However, I have noticed that regardless of the context, the phrase “pura vida” is always used to express the positivity present in one’s life at a certain moment in time; that regardless of the circumstance, life is still good, life is still pure.
Prior to coming to San Jose, the OTS Tropical Diseases students spent much time discussing how the lifestyle that someone lives can impact their health. “Health” is not simply defined as the absence of disease, but is also influenced by one’s socio-economic status, working lifestyle, support of family and friends, and other social factors that influence one’s perception of oneself. It is upon learning this that I speculated that those living in low income communities, regardless of any diseases they have, may not be living a healthy lifestyle. However, after learning about the primary care system, it has amazed me that through the public sector in Costa Rica, people are able to have access to a wholesome, pura vida life.
Costa Rica has a universal healthcare system committed to aiding those who are most in need. To aid in preventing the spread of disease, doctors and nurses travel out into the community to make sure that each patient behind every door they knock on is provided with access to the care that they need. To further back up the determination of the healthcare system, a conversation with my host-sister (who is attending medical school at the public university in San Jose) informed me that, when the country’s women were facing issues of malnutrition, the healthcare system took action by fortifying all of the country’s foods with additional vitamins and minerals, and still do to this day.
As a result, I am not surprised that an integral part of Costa Rican culture is a phrase that encompasses the concept of wishing well and positivity. It is through the primary care system here that all people can have access to a life free of disease, but hopefully live with a sense of comfort and confidence that the healthcare system is going to take care of them. And when the system fails, as any system has the potential to, they are surrounded by a culture that lives pura vida, embracing a life of optimism and reinforcing a sense of security. 

1 comment:

  1. Love this. Hope you are enjoying the pura vida.