CRC Daily: Free talk Friday

The best spots for Internet, and on the origins of 'Pura Vida'

Happy Friday from The Costa Rica Daily! Today is “Free Talk Friday,” our end-of-week mailbag. Send us your questions throughout the week, and we’ll pick some to answer next Friday. 

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Let’s get right to this week’s questions:

Where does the phrase ‘Pura Vida’ come from?

“Pura Vida” is ubiquitous in Costa Rica. Even if you don’t speak a lick of Spanish, learn that phrase when you visit. Literally translating to “Pure Life,” Ticos use it to say hello, goodbye, thank you, and to show admiration.

How was your lunch? “Pura Vida.” Someone apologizes? “Pura Vida.” The cashier bags your groceries? “Pura Vida.” You get stuck in traffic because Costa Rica starts road construction at rush hour? “Pura Vida” (except sarcastically).

Today, “Pura Vida” is unequivocally Costa Rican. But the idiom’s origins are decidedly more foreign. According to La Nación, the phrase can be traced to a 1956 Mexican movie with that same title.

The movie follows Melquiades Ledezma, who is outcast from his home town after being labeled a source of bad luck. Despite the misfortune that follows him, he keeps a positive attitude. (Spoiler: His unlucky streak eventually ends when he finds a winning lottery ticket.)

Ledezma says “Pura Vida” more than a dozen times during the film, and that slowly began to catch on in Costa Rica as the country prospered after abolishing its army.

As La Nación explains, by the 1980s, “the environment that characterized Costa Rica in comparison with the wars and the pain that plagued the rest of Central America, were the reasons that promoted the popularization of ‘Pura Vida.’ ”

More than 60 years after the movie debuted in Mexico, you’d be hard-pressed to find a conversation between Costa Ricans that doesn’t begin or end with “Pura Vida.”

Here’s a short clip from “Pura Vida” the movie:

Where can I get reliable Internet in Costa Rica?

There’s no single destination in Costa Rica that has the fastest or most reliable internet. Generally speaking, if high speeds and reliable service are a must, we recommend making sure your hotel (or apartment, or AirBnB) has a fiber-optic line.

Kolbi, the national telecommunications provider, lists its fiber-optic coverage here. You can also obtain fiber optic through other providers, like Coopeguanacaste.

In Costa Rica, you can find fiber optic speeds (up to 500 Mbps download / 20 Mbps upload) across the Greater Metropolitan Area near San José and in many touristy towns. Service may vary block-by-block, or even house-by-house, so it’s best to confirm availability beforehand.

Even if a destination doesn’t have fiber optic, it may still have service that’s fast enough for streaming Netflix, posting awesome Instagram photos, or FaceTiming a jealous friend. But if stability and speed are a must (e.g. for work), fiber optic is your best bet.

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