Pura Vida

Scarlet Macaw

Christmas has always been a “stay at home” event for me. Christmas Eve church services followed by homemade soup and fresh-baked bread, culminating in the serenity of the christmas lights as all quieted down for bed. Fresh squeezed orange juice and butterscotch rolls on Christmas morning, opening presents around the Christmas tree, bathing in the glow of home and family and the blessings of the good life. A time of thankfulness and reflection.

This past Christmas was celebrated out of the mold. We boarded a plane for a short flight to Costa Rica for a new kind of adventure and a healthy dose of what Costa Ricans call Pura Vida! Beaches, ocean surf, palm trees and white almond trees with scarlet macaws hanging from every branch greeted us.

My youngest daughter turned fifty this past December 28th and she wanted to have a celebration worthy of that momentous birthday. So off we flew to a tropical paradise for a memory making adventure. We rode ATV’s, walked the beaches, tried our luck at fishing, spotted and enjoyed some lifer birds and the most fun of all… rappelling down a two hundred foot waterfall.

Half way down! What a rush!!!

The hardest part about rappelling down a waterfall is climbing up to the top of it. For my younger travel mates, this was not a huge task, but for me it was difficult mostly because of an injury to my knee that occurred when a scarlet macaw flew straight at me from a tree that I had been stalking for the “best” macaw shot, causing me to fall. I heard and felt something pop at the back of my knee. This injury, combined with my age, made by ascent to the top of the waterfall problematic. But my two grandsons helped me. The whole process made me collapse with laughter….they used their rappelling belts/gear to clip to my belt in the front and one pulled me up as the other pushed from behind. It takes a village to haul a grandmother up a mountain!

Once at the top,  everyone else went first and as I watched their descent I admit I was having doubts about my sanity. The drop took faith, courage and trust…in the equipment and in my guide Jose who preceded me to assure my safety as I descended to the bottom.. It was a rush literally and figuratively. The rush of adrenaline pumping and the rush of thousands of gallons of water splashing against rocks above, around and below me.

My last thought before I took the plunge and leaned back into my harness to begin my descent came from one of my favorite movies, Strictly Ballroom….”A life lived in fear is a life half-lived”. The rush, the thrill of accomplishment was worth conquering the fear. The result…a wonderful memory of an out of the ordinary Christmas spent expanding horizons with people I love.

Wishing everyone a little piece of Pura Vida!

Bernie’s Pura Vida



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