From the Concrete Jungle to the Costa Rica Jungle

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January 14, 2020
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May 18, 2020

From the Concrete Jungle to the Costa Rica Jungle

Happy girl smiling in Costa Rica

At just 26, Tessa from New York City may be the youngest (and bravest!) Pura Vida alum we know who has uprooted her traditional life in the United States for a major new adventure in Costa Rica. This bold and inspiring chica was recently hired as an English and special education teacher at a bilingual school near Montezuma, a beachside community just 45 minutes from our surf and yoga retreat. Yeah, girl! 

This February, she’ll be trading her urban classroom in the concrete jungle of New York for the verdant jungle of Costa Rica—completing a journey that began at our surf camp and yoga retreat in 2019. It was during that transformative week at Pura Vida Adventures that she first experienced the warm, open-hearted culture of Costa Rica and connected to something new within herself.

Girl with surf board on the beach 

“During the surf retreat I felt really understood and healthy and at peace. Surfing was a big part of what made me feel calm and more like myself. Afterwards I felt very refreshed and ready to get back to my life at home. But there was a part of me that was missing Costa Rica and I knew that I wanted to return.”

After teaching special education in New York City for the past three years, Tessa was ready for a new challenge. And Costa Rica offered exactly what she needed.

“I’ve always wanted to live in another country, and I felt like this was a great opportunity for me to live somewhere else, to experience another culture, and to practice my Spanish. I think I connected with it so quickly while I was down here, and I knew that I wanted to explore it, and that I’d regret it if I didn’t take this time to explore.”

Her connection to Pura Vida Adventures continued after the surf retreat, when Tessa reached out to retreat hostess Sara for advice on working and living in another country. Tessa had her eye on several English as a Second Language teacher certification programs in Costa Rica, as a next step.

Sara, who taught English in Costa Rica before working at the retreat, recommended Costa Rica TEFL, where she received her English teacher certification in 2010. Tessa soon enrolled in the program and booked a ticket back to Costa Rica. And after her graduation, she was on her way to Montezuma, with a new job waiting for her. Amazing! 


ESL teachers on the beach in Costa Rica

Although she admits that preparing for the transition has been nerve-wracking, Tessa says she’s chosen to follow her heart, and it hasn’t let her down yet.

“I have a lot of faith in everything that I’ve experienced and in Costa Rica. Because so far every time I’ve done something scary here, it’s always worked out for the best.”

As anyone who’s moved to Costa Rica can tell you, it’s not always easy. But it’s always an adventure. And Tessa is going into her new yearlong teaching assignment with true PURA VIDA spirit. 

“Definitely there have been hard parts, like adjusting to having no AC or being flexible and having to go with the flow of the country and the culture that I’m in. And just not having those comforts from America. But there’s been so much of a reward for being flexible, and I think you grow so much when you’re in another country that you have to adapt to it, instead of it adapting to you.”

On vacation in Costa Rica


Now that she’ll be living full time near the beach, surfing is definitely on the agenda.

“Every time I go out to surf, I feel so at peace. Sometimes I’ll be in my head too much, having concerns that maybe aren’t that big of a deal… but when I go in the water, it’s like the waves completely wash it away.”

Tessa, we’re so proud of you and we hope to see you out in the waves soon!

Has a retreat experience with Pura Vida Adventures changed your life? Share your story with us here!


girl at the beach

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