My post last week about author-adventurer-TV-personality Richard Bang’s PBS special “Quest for Pura Vida”  in Costa Rica  reminded me that I haven’t yet blogged about Costa Rica’s “Million Dollar Gift of Happiness”  campaign.
Sorry, Richard!… a talking sloth has pipped you to the post in the quest to define “pura vida!”—the Costa Rica’s ubiquitous term for “full of life,” “pure life,” “everything’s kosher,” “that’s cool,” and “hang loose.”
The phrase has a thousand meanings, depending on context, but in essence encapsulates everything that Costa Rica is said to stand for, and the essence of happiness that tourists hope to capture during their visit.
In fact ticos, as the Costa Ricans are known, have been named the “happiest people on earth” in two recent international studies and indices, including top spot on the Happy Planet Index . (Also see my blog post—“Paul Theroux lists Costa Rica as top for happiness” )
So, taking advantage of Costa Rica’s global reputation for elevating moods, Costa Rica’s tourism board  (the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo) teamed up with the gifted 22squared  advertising agency to create a promotional ad campaign to give slumping tourism figures a boost. The ICT committed $6.5 million to the campaign with the goal of boosting tourism from North America by five percent by February 2013.
The witty “Million Dollar Gift of Happiness”  campaign, which is exclusive to the tourist board’s Visit Costa Rica Facebook  and Costa Rica YouTube channel , features a blissed-out talking sloth delivering happy-go-lucky words touting the attractions of this peaceful Central American country.
(Speaking of elevated moods, Mr. Sloth’s relaxed, surfer dude-style voice suggests that the slow-moving spokes-animal has been chewing something other than cecropia  leafs, the three-toed sloths’ favored food. But I digress.)
“Hello Americas, I’m a sloth… A sloth that lives in the happiest country in the world: Costa Rica,” he says with a slow, laid-back drawl as he hangs out in a tree on a beach in Manuel Antonio National Park , on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific  coast.
In the second video , Mr. Sloth makes a blooper when he’s caught on camera eating an insect he picked from his fur. Take two!… in the third video , we see him chilling at Arenal Volcano  … surfing at Playa Negra  … hanging out by the National Theater  in San José ... and trying to boost his adrenalin level at Monteverde , where he falls asleep while zip-lining  through the tree-tops.
And you gotta love the fourth video , in which we discover what’s behind Mr. Sloth’s smile.
The campaign aims to spread the happiness around with a million dollars-worth of free trips. One 8-day/7-night trip to Costa Rica is being given away every weekday until February 5, 2012.
The lucky winners get to choose one of five customizable trip-for-two types: Adrenaline Happiness Adventure Happiness, Authentic Happiness, Romantic Happiness, or Wildlife Happiness.
You can even enter daily to increase your chances to win: see the details here .
Another 95 lucky souls will be hand-picked to “benefit from a gift of happiness.” In all, 255 travelers will receive free trips during the campaign.
So, if you’re keen to see a real life sloth up close and personal, be sure to enter the “Million Dollar Gift of Happiness” .
Then, once you’re ready to pack your bags, be sure to buy Moon Costa Rica , so you can properly plan for your trip.
If you're traveling only to San José and the Caribbean, buy Moon Spotlight Costa Rica's Caribbean Coast  pocket guide.
If you're traveling only to the beaches of Nicoya, buy Moon Spotlight Costa Rica's Nicoya Peninsula  pocket guide.
If you're traveling only to Arenal and/or Monteverde, buy Moon Spotlight Costa Rica's Arenal & Monteverde  pocket guide.
Disclosure: I occasionally accept free or discounted travel when it coincides with my editorial goals. However, my opinion is never for sale. The opinions you see in Cuba & Costa Rica Journal are my unbiased reflection of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Learn more about Christopher P. Baker .
Copyright © Christopher P. Baker