Pura Vida, as they say in Costa Rica. It means Pure Life and it’s the perfect phrase to describe the wonders of life here in Costa Rica. My first time visiting this breathtaking country I led a volunteer trip for two weeks with fifteen students from Texas State University. We spent two weeks planting trees, working with children, and spending time at the local marine rescue park. Words don’t really capture the feelings of traveling to a new country, immersing yourself in and learning about the culture, and showing your compassion through volunteer work.
After those two weeks volunteering everyone in the group went home, except for me. I decided to do an internship where I would live for 3 months in the rainforest working as an eco-tour guide while also helping a local reforestation effort. When I wasn’t ziplining through the canopy, I was relaxing on a hammock practicing my spanish and learning more about the wildlife and plants that surrounded me. Needless to say, these are the kinds of experiences that change your life!
After returning back to Texas State to finish my degree, I knew what my next step was. My friend and I founded Las Olas Travel and we began to lead more trips to Costa Rica and Nicaragua. I had found my passion and I wasn’t ready to stop there. After graduating from Texas State University in December 2015, I decided to pursue my Masters. I’ve always been a little on the nerdy side and I love to learn so getting my Masters just made sense. I knew that I wanted to study sustainable tourism and I found the perfect program that was a joint degree with UNT and CATIE (in Costa Rica), where I would spend one year studying in Texas and then one year in Costa Rica. It was the perfect match - and here I am!
I moved to Costa Rica this past August and I’ve never felt more at home living in the tropics. For my studies I’ve been able to travel all over the country learning about sustainable development and tourism operations. I have visited national parks, released baby turtle hatchlings, hiked to the tops of waterfalls and climbed coconut trees on the caribbean coast. I’m living the Pura Vida dream!
The more I travel and grow, the more I appreciate that life is about the adventures you experience, not the things you accumulate. Thank you for taking the time to read about the beginnings of Las Olas Travel and stay tuned to hear more about my Pura Vida adventures here in Costa Rica!
- Rachel Wilson, CEO and Co-Founder