This time we are exploring the ecological nexus of North and South America, in the small but potent package of a country, Costa Rica. The people of Costa Rica are on a tear to preserve the extravagant biodiversity of their national field of dreams—and it seems to be working. What is the secret of their success? Richard is off to find out, as he traverses a land oft cited as a green beacon to the world, as well as a place two recent international studies proclaimed "the happiest country on earth!"

Costa Rica is a place of rivers wild to get to the sea, mountains that speak with fire and rainforests that obey no rules. It has more species of animals and plants than the United States and Canada combined. An ethnically diverse democracy, Costa Rica has literacy rates and healthcare comparable to the most developed countries in the world. It’s abolished its military, and enjoyed greater peace and political stability than all of its neighbors. But what has brought Richard back to Costa Rica so many times over the years is a sense of well-being he has felt in few countries on earth.

"Pura Vida" is a phrase used throughout the country, uttered by guides, park rangers, bus drivers and bureaucrats. Literally it means "Pure Life," but is there something deeper? Could it be a clue to the roots of Costa Rica's exceptionalism?

In Costa Rica endless natural wonders rouse the faculties and excite the soul. But what is most remarkable is the sensitivity the people have to their surroundings. Costa Ricans have set aside one quarter of their land as national parks and protected areas. How did they manage this when so many people in other countries have stood by while their natural wonders were degraded or destroyed? How did Costa Ricans fend off the miners, loggers, farmers, burners, developers and others who felled and flattened rainforests around the world? How did they trick time? Richard's quest this time is to find out in Adventures with Purpose—Costa Rica: Quest for Pura Vida.

Full script...

Partial support of this program on Public Television is provided by:


Instant Immersion Language Learning Software
Instant Immersion

Visit Costa Rica

Costa Rica Expeditions

Costa Rica National Park Memberships & Passes (Amigos de los Parques)


Costa Rica National Parks

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

Lapa Rios Eco-lodge and Wildlife Reserve (Corcovado, Osa Peninsula)

Punta Islita Villas (Guanacaste)