I’m Christa the home chef, avid photographer, bilingual mom, travel junkie and blogger here at Pura Vida Moms. I currently live in the gorgeous state of Colorado with my husband and two daughters. We recently moved back after a year living in San Ramon, Costa Rica, and our hearts are always in two places.
We are a bilingual and bicultural family in every sense of the word. From the time my husband and I got married we have navigated two languages, two cultures, two cuisines. We speak Spanish and English (but mostly Spanglish), we eat gallo pinto for breakfast and taco soup at night. Sometimes lunch is the biggest meal of the day, other times it’s dinner. Like so many Latinos living in the United States, straddling two cultures is just what we do.
It wasn’t always this way though. Sometime after we got married and moved to the United States, my husband started to really miss authentic Costa Rican food like his mom and grandmother made for him growing up. Dutifully, I searched and searched for recipes from Costa Rica, but most of them were for people living in Costa Rica.
That didn’t work for us. We were living in a tiny town here in Colorado with little access to our ingredients from home. A couple of times a year we would fly to Costa Rica and come home with suitcases full of coffee, Salsa Lizano, achiote and more. It just wasn’t a sustainable model for bicultural living.
In 2007 I embarked on my first home chef tour of Costa Rica. I asked my husband to list his 10 favorite recipes, and then I asked him who in his family and friends made the recipes the absolute best. I contacted each person and asked them to teach me to make the recipe.
And I learned so much! I learned how to make a true Costa Rican sofrito. I learned how to ask for each cut of meat, how to use traditional Costa Rican cooking tools to achieve the best flavors.
When I got home, I set about adjusting those recipes to match the ingredients I could find in my small town. And I soon became the go-to resource for the Costa Rican ex-pats we knew in the States, and my home chef tours are now something I look forward to each year (not to mention that now people beg ME to learn from them!)
I did all of this while teaching public school Spanish to high schoolers. When our first daughter was born, I put everything on hold to raise her bilingually. I knew all the best teaching pedagogy for Spanish, and I had seen hundreds of examples of what worked and what didn’t as far as bilingual parenting through the students that came through my door each year.’
I set a goal- my children would be bilingual in reading, writing and speaking Spanish. it wasn’t going to be enough for them to understand me in Spanish and respond in English. I wanted fully biliterate children. I also wanted my girls to feel a strong tie to their Costa Rican culture and family and have a strong Latina identity.
Again, I threw myself into finding the best resources for raising bilingual children. I found the most effective models. I figured out where to get the best authentic Spanish books. I brushed up on my Spanish and made everyone in our house speak Spanish all the time.
The most important part of raising bicultural kids though is making sure they have lots and lots of experiences in other languages and cultures because it normalizes global living for our family.
To that end, we have made the decision to travel with our kids from very young ages (they both visited Costa Rica at just 3 months of age) and to use travel opportunities to either reinforce our home language and culture or to provide strong examples of bilingualism outside of the Spanish language.
When our second daughter was born, three things became abundantly clear to me in the hospital after giving birth.
1. I would not be able to raise my daughters to be biliterate global citizens while continuing to teach public school full time.
2. My story and expertise was not completely unique- there are millions of Latino expats living in the United States who are striving to maintain ties to their homeland while raising kids in the United States.
3. I still needed income if I were to give up that teacher salary. (Real talk 😂).
And thus Pura Vida Moms was born. I started by publishing my Costa Rican recipes, and then publishing family recipes from my mom. Soon people asked for bilingual parenting tips, and when we took the baby to Costa Rica 10 weeks after delivery, people started asking for travel tips.
It’s been a real DIY endeavor. I learned to use Word Press, to take high-resolution photos with a DSLR camera, how to SEO optimize a post, make Pinterest images and use Lightroom and Photoshop to create beautiful designs. This website is a testament to my expertise, but also to my growth mindset.
Pura Vida Moms allows me to share my passions in so many ways. I now work as a recipe developer, food and travel photographer, bilingual parenting consultant and adore press trips.
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Pura Vida Moms is my home in cyberspace and I am so happy to have you here with me.
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