What do you do when, out of the blue, you get an e-mail, inviting you and your family to visit the country the Happy Planet Index has rated Number One in national happiness? When the country is Costa Rica, you immediately picture lush rainforests, gleaming and growing under a canopy of bird calls and life, miles of gorgeous coastal beaches, and, yes, happy people in a mellow, ecologically sustainable, place. I’d heard about “pura vida”, the phrase that denotes the Costa Rican spirit, a “bounty of life”. People I’ve known who have spent time in Costa Rica tell me they can’t wait to return – for the natural beauty, spirit, adventure experiences, and ease.
I read and re-read the email from the Costa Rican Tourist Board I didn’t tell anyone about it or answer right away. The offer came because of my Slow Family blog readership and the alignment the Board felt with the blog’s message of slowing down and enjoying life with family and community. After all, the spokescreature for the Costa Rica’s Gift of Happiness Sweepstakes, which my prize is a part of, is a relaxed and happy sloth.
So many “offers” come by email and phone that I had trouble believing this one. I googled “Gift of Happiness”, liked the Gift of Happiness Facebook page, and made a tentative call to the number on the email, where a very friendly person on the other end of the phone told me that the trip was part of the Costa Rica’s Gift of Happiness program, which is giving away $1,000,000 worth of trips in the next few months (a trip each weekday) to help North Americans experience Costa Rica’s spirit.
The consultant detailed our (!) trip, one of six themed experiences — the 8-day, 7-night Family Happiness package, in which our whole family would stay in three CST-rated (Certification for Sustainable Tourism) hotels in three distinct regions in Costa Rica (Sarapuiqi, Monteverde and Matapalo Beach). Transportation and all kinds of fun family side trips and adventures, from visiting coffee plantations to walking on hanging bridges over the Cloud Forest, would be included. All so we could experience our own Costa Rican “pura vida”, in the happiest place on Earth.
What does one say to that? YES!
Things moved quickly. Family members checked calendars and watched a video of Anderson Cooper sending a surprised pair of honeymooners on their own Gift of Happiness (the Romantic Happiness package, no doubt), just to be extra, super sure this thing was real. I was sent a beautiful wooden certificate for the trip and put in touch with a travel consultant.
The trip is a dream come true. I’ve always wanted to visit Costa Rica with my family. And now we’re going! I will be sure to blog all about our adventures.
Read what another happy winner, Lindsay at Eco-Chick Escapes, writes about her trip and the great things she discovered about Costa Rica’s happiness rates and sustainable practices.
Read more about the Happy Planet Index, which measures countries based on a matrix of environmental impact and physical and psychological well-being to illustrate that high levels of resource consumption do not reliably produce high levels of well-being. (In other words, simplifying can lead to happiness.)
Enter to win your own Costa Rica’s Gift of Happiness trip by “liking” the Gift of Happiness Facebook page.
Photos: Costa Rican Tourist Board, Lipman Family