Pura Vida Style!
By Mandy Hacker

One fateful night in Costa Rica, the Pie-ers had a hankering for some karaoke. Those brave enough, set out in search of a cure and what we found was epic. We asked some locals for directions to a karaoke bar, and after a few failed attempts, we finally arrived at the largest karaoke joint I have ever seen. It was a two-story, open-air establishment, with a roof to keep you dry but no walls to get you down.

We wasted no time fully immersing ourselves in the glorious atmosphere and committed to giving the Costa Ricans fortunate enough to be present the best show they’d ever seen. Some of the musical highlights included classics such as, “What I Like About You,” “The Joker,” and “Hotel California.” What might have been perceived as expressions of apprehension on the faces of our unexpecting audience quickly gave way to smiles, and soon they were applauding us and even joining in. It was by far one of my favorite nights we spent in Costa Rica, and proof that Flying Pie’s positive culture knows no bounds!

After hours of singing and enjoying many bottles of Cerveca Imperial, the barkeep unplugged the microphones, turned the lights off, and sent the Pie-ers off into the night. Photos by Mandy

Getting My Snork On

By Andy Query

Within the first five seconds I was in the water I was about four feet directly above the biggest puffer fish that I saw the whole time I was getting my snork on. It was wedged between two rocks and I hadn’t had time to process what kinda fish it was, being that I’d never seen a puffer fish before. It just looked pissed off so I was trying to swim backwards to get away from it ’cause I didn’t want to swim forward and have my junk go directly over the fish in case it decided to attack. Swimming backwards, however, is nearly impossible with fins on.

Then the tide went out and I sank about three feet leaving me face to face with this fish. Now I’m pretty panicked and trying desperately to swim away when I get stung on the back by a jelly fish. I’m sure the muffled screams through my snorkel sounded hilarious from the beach (apparently MMMMWAHARGHHHH!! Isn’t a word in Spanish ’cause the locals did nothing).

I hadn’t been in the water 10 seconds and the next wave comes in and dashes me against sharp volcanic rocks shredding my shins. I’m trying to keep calm when I realize I’m bleeding in the water. I don’t know if they have sharks there but I’ve read they can smell someone bleeding in Nebraska. I don’t even know what kinda fish they have. I’m looking at a fish that seems pretty docile, but I have no idea if it bites or stings or sucks blood through a hidden spike in its forehead. They don’t give you any training on this stuff.

During all of this I’ve been stung at least a half dozen times by jellyfish. Then I see a ten foot long black sea snake looking thing and I was like “F this! I’m outta here!”

As I’m walking back to the beach I meet a couple friends who were on their way to get their snork on. They asked me how it was and I can hear a little kid snorkeling with his family who are desperately trying to calm him as he screams bloody murder. “Something touched my leg! It’s in the water! It touched my leg!” I said, “It’s about like that,” pointing to the terrified child.

Eventually my friends coaxed me back into the water. It was a lot better the second time since I figured I only had a one in four chance of the ten foot long black sea snake looking thing coming after me. Which was oddly calming. It turned out to be an eel. But I didn’t know that. Even so, it coulda been an Electric Eel, a Moray Eel, or a Stab Me In The Heart With My Sharp Pointy Tail Eel. Like I said, they don’t give you any training on this stuff. They just hand you the stuff and point you to the Pacific Ocean.

And inevitably the last day came and we had to leave Costa Rica.

Soaking in one last look at the ocean. Whitney

We drove from Playa Ocotal back to San Jose on Sunday afternoon. We also saw what can happen when cars don’t magically squeeze pass each other on the Pan American highway: a crash involving a bus and a few cars delayed our travel, but at least it wasn’t our bus in the crash and we also got an amazing view of the sunset.

In San Jose we stayed at the Country Inn & Suites again, for our last night in Costa Rica. We had a quick dinner, at which the guides handed out a Costa Rica pin to each person. Herson and Jeff gave a goodbye speech to us, saying that one of the most remarkable things to them about our group is that we were a 62 person family, and they had never seen a large group that acted that way. Herson and Jeff also said that they appreciated that we respected their country and culture. They also saw us respect each other and the staff that helped us at the various places we went. We shared how thankful we were that they enjoyed our group and, more importantly, what an amazing job they did for us. Their knowledge of the flora, fauna, history, and geographic facts made the trip an incredible learning experience for all.


The last night, by the pool at the Country Inn & Suites. Jen

Piling off the busses outside the San Jose airport. Pretty perky for 5 AM! Whitney

The next morning we woke up at 4:00, ate a quick breakfast, drank one last amazing cup of coffee and then hit the road for one last bus ride, to the airport.
Herson wore his new Flying Pie FREE HUGS shirt to see us to the airport.


Chapter Two: Back in Boise

Thank you for making our dough, Anthony!!

Due to the careful balancing of the work, we were ready to make every pizza on our menu by the time we opened on January 20th. All three doughs, every sauce, all the toppings, all fresh and ready to go.Our customers warmly welcomed us back home. We put up digital photo frames at both stores, with a couple hundred photos of our trip and put video and photos on our website. Our customers were so excited to hear about our adventure and were already asking where we were going next!


Customer: Do you know what it did for the community to see you guys close for a week and go to Costa Rica?

Jen: It made you appreciate us more?

Customer: No, it filled the community with good feelings to see you all be able to do such a great thing!

Jen delivered his slices and asked what else she could get him.

Customer: I’m just so happy for you. That’s enough.


Customer: This is our first time here.

Matt: Really, what made you decide to come here?

Customer: I wanted to see what kind of place would send their employees to Costa Rica.

Matt: So whaddya think?

Customer: I would like an application.


Shirley: How was your trip?

Karl: As one person put it, unreasonably wonderful!

Shirley: That’s great! We’re so glad you’re back though. We missed you, though we did have some pizzas in our freezer to tide us over.

Karl: I’m glad our advice worked out for you!


Customer: So what does Pura Vida mean?

Stan: It means “pure life.” It’s something we picked up in Costa Rica.

Customer: Pura Vida?

Stan: Yup.

Customer: I like that. Pura Vida at Flying Pie. That sounds right.


Pura Vida is the national motto of Costa Rica. The literal translation is “Pure Life”. What it actually means is much more complex and delightful. It is somewhere between a phrase and a cultural phenomenon.

It is said with a slight roll on the ‘r’, and it sounds like one word when said by natives (no pause at all).

Pura Vida can be used for hello, or goodbye. It works for when something sad has happened, and also for when something delightful has happened.

Each time you say, “Pura Vida”, you are participating in the culture of Costa Rica, in a respectful, positive way.

The magical inclusiveness makes even a brand-new visitor feel unreservedly welcome.

It works well in relaxed situations. It substitutes well for positive slang… for example: “Cool”, “Super”, “Okey Dokey” or “Well Done”. It can diffuse tense situations too — improved outcomes are possible with a police officer or an irate shopkeeper!

When you drop a water glass in a restaurant or find yourself in other awkward or clumsy situations, “Pura Vida” and a smile are all it takes to transform the interaction into a positive.

If you learn no other Spanish words, learn this phrase well, and trust that through tears or laughter, rain or shine, delight or grief, the entire emotional vocabulary can be meaningfully communicated with just these two words! “Pura Vida”, said while standing with crossed legs, will get you directions to the closest bathroom!

The crew’s response to horn honks now include “Pura Vida”. This elicited a question from a customer which Zach captured in a wonderful Verbal Comment from the first night we re-opened:

Linda : “So what is Pura Vida?”
Zach: “In Costa Rican culture, people are greeted with a wish of pure life, and in
our experience the greeting was often heartfelt and sincere.”
Linda: “So, it was a fitting place for you guys, huh?”

Our thanks to two wonderful guides, Herson Guevara and Jeffrey Muñoz for helping us understand several layers of the rich and wonderful importance of this key aspect of life in Costa Rica.


Jeffrey Muñoz (left) Herson Guevara (right)




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More Flying Pie Costa Rica Photos at Flickrvideo and photos