Pura Vida: From Lisa Mason now living in Costa Rica

On Facebook, I quoted Joyce Meyer’s  “One of the greatest blessings in the world is to be able to be happy even when things in life are not going the way we planned.”  Real life galpal Lisa Mason reponded: “Your post truly hit home with me and I wanted to share something my daughter asked me to write. It’s a condensed version of my story (of leaving mainstream society and running off to live in Costa Rica):

MY OFF DAYS:  At this stage of my life, most days I’m balanced, centered and grounded, but let me repeat… Most Days.  I’m over 50 years old and I can honestly say that I have truly “lived” my life. I can also say that I have questioned, contemplated, experienced, analyzed and most importantly learned, a great deal this far in my life. And of course, I still have so much to learn.  

I try to live a simple life without over complicating things. Please don’t mistake “simple” as “easy”. Life is an experience, complete with every emotion imaginable…… I live them all!

A few years ago I moved to Costa Rica where the popular phrase is PURA VIDA, which means PURE LIFE. When I first heard this, my initial interpretation was “The Good Life”. Wow was I wrong! After living here with the local people for this long, seeing the “simple” yet so difficult life most of them live on a daily basis and then hearing them say to me “Pura Vida”.

And I would think to myself; Pura Vida my Ass, you just had to walk miles over a jungle mountain in the pouring rain just to find work that only pays $10 a day! Or, you just walked miles over a jungle mountain carrying a huge bunch of bananas to sell at the market for only $5. OR…. you just walked miles thru the jungle mountain just to buy your daily food of rice, beans, bread and eggs. Life I thought, was not so Pura Vida for them! How can they sincerely smile and say this to me when clearly their life is so difficult at times?

Then, I experienced my “difficult” stage of life. I had my house I was building on the mountain, which I thought was an adventurous task in itself. But, the learning continues…. No electric at first, no phone or internet EVER, no one around for miles. And then, my attorney stole ALL my money. The money I planned on living on until I got settled. Every penny was gone. I sold my nice car and got a much cheaper older car that didn’t start half the time. I baked cookies to sell, made cheese to sell, learned to eat and survive off my land from wild yucca, other plants and fruits such as bananas, fresh water shrimp, whatever it took to survive.

Including; yes…. walking miles over a jungle mountain in the pouring rain, carrying a bag of cookies or cheese to sell at the market for enough money for “top priority” things like; time at the internet café to keep in touch with family and friends, food for one or two days maybe for me and my huge dog, (rice, beans, bread and eggs) and maybe toothpaste or soap etc. Then I got very sick with something similar to Malaria called Dengue and had such a high fever I thought I was gonna die alone on the mountain and no one would know. I had to give myself a shot in the ass everyday for 25 days, not fun!

Then there was also my extremely painful experience with the little sandflies that gifted me with Leishmaniasis. Arms and legs covered with ulcers. Not to mention the rashes and the fungas that made my toenails fall off, I can go on and on…….In other words, Every day was a new challenge.(And the hardest lesson I’m still trying to learn; when life gets extremely challenging; is it the universes way of telling me to go in a different direction, or is the lesson “some things are worth fighting for”. Difficult for me to decide).

Anyway, everyday was difficult. I was constantly working on my car, working on the house and land, taking care of my animals and for weeks I was trying to get water to my house because my water pump wasn’t working so I was also hauling buckets of water from the river and up a big muddy hill to the house several times a day. All the while I was optimistically searching for the answers to my lifes lessons and keeping a positive balance. AND THEN, it happened, right there at my water pump. After weeks of trying to repair my water pump with no success, I started cursing, crying, sometimes screaming, I even kicked it and then I fell and slid all the way down the hill and into the river (again). I didn’t even want to get up this time, everything came crashing down on me all at once. I laid there in the pouring rain, crying and asking myself why? All I wanted was to go back to the states and see my daughter again but I didn’t even have the money to buy food. What was I doing to “deserve” all this? How did everything fall apart so fast and so drastically?

At that moment, I had my epiphany, PURA VIDA! I even said it out loud. Call me crazy, but I laid there in the river and laughed at myself. (I know my dog thought I was crazy) At that moment I understood what the locals had been saying all this time. PURE Life; this moment IS life, pure and simple! Life raw, life unaltered, the good AND the bad, it is life! Not all days are perfect, maybe far from it. But it IS life!

So, the next day, same routine; LIFE……. walk down the muddy hill with my tools in my hand, my big dog “Odin” right beside me, and I ask myself optimistically; is today the day we’re gonna fix the water pump?

And Life goes on…..
I sold almost everything I owned, my car, my horses, and any luxury items and left my treehouse on the mountain to live closer to town where I could make money to survive. Today I live in a little house on the beach, (with wifi and cell phone service) ride my bicycle to town to sell my Organic Insect Repellents or paint signs or repair someone else’s water pump (now that I’m an expert) whatever it takes to make the little money I need to survive here.

I miss my life on the mountain but after looking back, I’m so very lucky to have had the experience and WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING! Living up there all alone, no cell phone service, no internet, wheeling machete’s thru the jungle with one in each hand like I was invincible! I was blessed that I didn’t get hurt or snake bit, cause there was NO ONE there to ask for help.

Oh ya, and now, when I pass the local people here in Costa Rica, I sincerely smile at them and say PURA VIDA and I mean it with all my heart.  But then there are also those days when everything in life is good, things are moving along smoothly, and for no particular reason….. BAM!!! I’m in a negative mood. Whats up with that?

Where did that come from? Although I don’t like using the term “negative” cause its really NOT negative to experience these emotions so I prefer to call these days my “OFF” days. When I just cant seem to maintain and keep my positive balance “ON”. And then I remind myself, nothing can stay “ON” forever. It simply means I’ll burn brighter tomorrow!

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