WHERE IS COSTA RICA?
Seaman: "Captain, where is Costa Rica?"
Columbus: "For God's sake, man.
"Every five minutes for three months you've asked me 'Are we there yet?'
"Well, we're there, mate.
"Now, get into that little row boat and go ashore!"
Over the next 500 years, travelers from around the world have been asking the same question as the mariner: where in the world is Costa Rica?
Turns out, in the age of jet planes and world travel, it's closer than you think.
Though the story about Columbus and his mate may sound a bit fanciful, it's true that the captain "discovered"---and named---the land we know as Costa Rica.
Aside: I've put "discovered" between quotation marks because, though it's a common conceit, the earliest explorers preceded Captain Columbus by about 15,000 years.
Like their ancestors who had crossed the land bridge between Russia and Alaska, they were wanderers hunting the big game of Costa Rica long ago: mastodons, mammoths, ground sloths the size of elephants.
OK, back to where is Costa Rica?
Nestled between Nicaragua to its north and Panama to the south, Costa Rica sits atop the volcanic "Ring of Fire" that extends from the west coast of South America north to Alaska, across to Russia and Japan.
It's a tiny country, about the size of New Hampshire and Vermont put together but don't let its diminutive land area fool you.
You see, though it takes up about 1/10,000 of the planet's land surface, it is home to nearly 5% of all the plant and animal species on earth.
Its beauty, tropical climate, easy-going lifestyle and democratic tradition, combined with ease of access, draws more than two million visitors a year.
Fortunately, unlike Columbus who only had a sextant and, once he found the New World, a coast to guide him to the land of Pura Vida, all you need to do is book a cruise or flight.
And, like Columbus' mate, every five minutes you can ask the friendly attendant "Are we there yet?"