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Destinations 2023 Preview: Pure Life

Fly Fisherman's special publication Destinations 2023 is available now! See below for link to purchase.

Destinations 2023 Preview: Pure Life

Read more in Destinations 2023. (Jeff Johnson photo)

Is requesting a “Pura Vida” tattoo in Costa Rica the same as yelling out “play Free Bird!” at a concert? Asking for a friend.

I’m guessing Costa Rican tattoo artists have lost count of how many times they’ve sent a tourist home with this popular, permanent souvenir. While bringing the inked phrase back home across the globe to Montana or Maine or Minnesota may be viewed by some as cliché cultural appropriation, it’s no doubt those who sport it are trying to cling to the simple life promised in the expression’s translation. Perhaps the mark is a daily dose of inspiration for a cubicle-imprisoned 9-to-5er in an office high-rise as she flips over her hand mid-spreadsheet to see on her wrist the cursive reminder of a less stressful week.

And it’s not just tourists who revel in the pure life enjoyed throughout a country with a reputation for being the happiest in the world. It’s also the attitude of the Ticos, as Costa Ricans affectionately refer to themselves. Ticos may be aware that their regular life is your vacation, but their kind and peaceful nature prevents them from rubbing it in. For locals, Pura Vida is a simple appreciation of life despite whatever challenging circumstances may come.

A collage of Costa Rica lifestyle and fishing images.
(Photography by Jeff Johnson, Pat Ford, & BotÁnika)

For destination anglers, the Pura Vida vibes can be either empowering or maddening, or both. Some fishermen have spent their lives wondering if a guide exists who won’t berate their cast or yell at them to set the hook. In Costa Rica, the guides with whom I fished are customarily laid back, while graciously asserting helpfulness. This may take some getting used to for anglers who believe they can only succeed when being screamed at and chastised...

To read the full story, pick up a copy of Fly Fisherman's special publication Destinations 2023 here!

A wader-clad fly angler kneeling and holding a large brown trout, smiling at the camera.
Get your copy of Destinations 2023 here. (Zach Heath photo)

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