Costa Rica: Fresh mountain air, exotic locales

The clean-smelling, fresh mountain air.

I never realized I had been deprived of its uplifting effects until I stepped off the narrow steps of a small jet plane and embraced Costa Rica’s cool mountain air with the wind.

Only one other time have I had that sensation. It, too, was from stepping off a plane in a small coastal town in Coos Bay, Oregon; the two times in my life that I’ve experienced the cleanest air.

San José, Costa Rica, sometimes gets a bad rap with tourists preferring to fly in, skipping over the metropolitan area, to head to the beautiful beaches, volcanoes, and mountains. Like any city, San José has its gritty parts, but there are some beautiful, quaint, historical neighborhoods with art, culture, and an eclectic food scene dotting the city.

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From fuchsia fuzzy flowers, to lemon basil drinks served in vegan cafés, to funky street art, and mom-and-pop restaurants called “sodas,” the hip Aranjuez district has plenty to offer.

Costa Rica is reminiscent to some of California, if it were to float away and grow a tropical rainforest. It also has a European vibe, a laid-back, friendly, sophisticated feel in this tropical Latin country known for its exotic vegetation and wildlife.

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Experiencing Costa Rica, even its inner city, is to get a taste for, as Costa Ricans say, “pura vida,” which translates to the “pure life” and takes on multiple meanings including, “thank you,” “you’re welcome,” “take it easy,” and “living amongst nature,” to name a few.

San Jose was just the beginning of my exploration into this fascinating country.

Story originally published in the Citrus County Chronicle.

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