Good Times in Costa Rica: June - July 2014

Six weeks in Costa Rica! Extending our cultural and language studies to one of the most sought-after destinations in Central America. Costa Rica is such an easy place for families.

Four Months Before Departure

Wowzerz! It’s February 8, 2014 and I just bought airfare! I found a great rate and now we’re committed. Next step: find a home to rent and get my husband on the same return flight so he can help with the kids.

When we began traveling with our kids, we often wished that we could stay longer in one location to fully immerse ourselves in the language and culture. When we realized that rental homes were an affordable way to extend our stay, we decided to give it a try.

This year’s destination is Costa Rica and the kids are going to be so excited. Especially if surf lessons are part of the experience! I’m excited, but always a little anxious once we’ve made the commitment, but still have so many details to work out: rental home, transportation, language instruction, etc.

Three Months Before Departure

Great news! Our good friends the Daytons are joining us for three weeks in Nosara, Costa Rica. I’d decided on Nosara because it is one of few walkable towns with everything we need: a grocery and restaurants, plenty of activities to keep kids and adults entertained, comfortable housing, and a good way to communicate with loved ones back home.

Traveling with friends can be a great way to experience a place with added familiarity and security. Traveling with the Daytons means embracing every moment, laughing a lot, adventure, and plenty of parental refereeing of strong-willed children — Kat’s three boys and my three girls. (Actually, I have four girls, but cute little Minerva fulfills her role as peacemaker. The only problem is that all the others argue about who gets to be near her.)

With the Daytons onboard, we committed to a condo complex that has two available units next to each other. This setup is ideal since both of our husbands are back home working. Now, we can separate families when needed, but still enjoy time together. Having another trusted adult nearby is priceless. Especially when you’re out of groceries and need to restock while kids play in the pool.

Day 1: 9 June - Departure

It’s almost midnight at the Denver International Airport. While one sleeps on me the others find an empty gate to play. I hope they sleep on this flight!

Day 2: 10 June - Travel Day

Hero says, “I’d like to invent a transporter. I mean, flights are pretty amazing, but I wish it didn’t take any time at all to get to Costa Rica.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Taking four daughters from my hometown on two flights (one overnight) and arriving in San Jose at 5:30AM, then renting a car to drive another four hours to Nosara, was going to be (I hoped) the hardest part of our trip. Turns out I was so exhausted before we left that the idea of driving my daughters in a rented car on roads I didn’t know without several days of decent sleep sounded dangerous.

About ten minutes before leaving my home for the airport, I called the rental home contact and asked if it was possible to arrange a transfer. Turns out that the expense was more affordable than renting a car, which necessitated four (yes, four) carseats. The law in Costa Rica is 12 years and younger. This law is obviously not enforced strongly among the locals, but I suspect it would be for tourists.

Smart move. It would have been a real challenge to navigate without another adult and safely arrive at our rented home. We were thrilled to see our friends who flew into the closer airport (Liberia International) the day before. We spent the rest of the afternoon swimming and trying not to fall apart from so little sleep the night before.

Day 3: 11 June - Start Surfing

Today felt like vacation. We met our instructors for the surf and Spanish camp and dove right in.

Day 4: 12 June - Trabajo Serio

We take our evening Spanish homework very seriously. Por supuesto!

Day 5: 13 June - Wheels

Turns out that walking around Nosara with seven children,  ages 10 and younger, isn’t much of a vacation.

Even Minerva, who gets carried for most of our walks, sat down in the middle of a road and refused to move. Some kids like to run ahead, some kids trail behind, some kids have a few potty breaks on the side of the road, and all the kids complain.

We’ve put in our walking miles (and have the blisters to prove it) but all that changed this afternoon.

Kat spotted a three-row golf cart today and negotiated a great rate. It’s well worth the brownie points we earned from our children who decided maybe we weren’t the worst mothers on the planet after all. Now, the idea of buying a loaf of bread or a new six-liter bottle of water isn’t so daunting. It’s also improved behavior: “Well, we can always take back the golf cart and start walking again.” “No. Por favor!”

Day 6: 14 June - Turtle Turns

Day 7: 15 June - Saturday Night Entertainment

In most Latin countries, shops are closed on Sundays. I happen to like this fact, but in preparation, we thought it was a good time to find the supermercado. We stopped at a pizzeria for an early dinner while watching Costa Rica win a World Cup game against Uruguay. Afterward, cars passing our super-sized golf cart were waiving Costa Rican flags and honking.

We filled our carts in a few minutes and by the time I finished checking out, the rain began. The cart was already full of kids, bags of groceries, and large bottles of water. In 42 seconds, I crammed my remaining bags into the golf cart and jumped aboard, but I was already soaked through. We couldn’t stop laughing.

With sunset around 5PM, we were running out of light quickly and soon realized that the golf cart lights were pretty weak. So was the windshield. Kat and I both hung our heads out of the cart while trying to navigate.  The dirt roads were quickly turning to mud.

“Turn to me. Stop. Pothole. Okay, izquierda.”

The kids were all screaming (good happy screams) even while passing local policemen. I was so soaked, I wouldn’t have noticed the sudden wet in my lap were it not for the extreme difference in temperature. I had gambled and lost. The baby had an unexpected bathroom stop at the pizzeria. That was the last diaper I had with me, so I hoped for the best.

It’s a funny thing about being in a beach town. We run around in swimsuits most the day and I don’t mind so much being peed on. I look at the pile of diapers I brought with me on this trip and wonder, “Hmmm. I might just make it.”

Even the constant sand and salt doesn’t bother me. (Okay, unless it gets inside the house, then I go a little crazy.) When we get home from the beach, the kids think we’re the coolest when we tell them they can shower and swim. Really, we don’t want to track all that sand on the cement floors and into clean sheets.

Just another fun-filled day in Costa Rica.

Day 8: 16 June - Wearing Them Out

In case the surfing, swimming, skateboarding, and sunshine isn’t enough to wear out this gaggle of kids, we found a new activity: super cart racing.

It started as a way to eliminate the arguing over who sits where, but now it’s a serious sport with a few safety rules. Mostly, it’s pure fun that runs the kids ragged, which is great; they‘ve all been waking up with the sun at 5:15AM. Now, we hide clocks and get them to bed a lot sooner than they realize.

Here we are trying to run them into submission while searching for an ATM that was actually stocked with cash.

FINAL SCORE

Colones cash: ZERO

Tired kids: SEVEN

Falls from moving vehicles: ONE

Day 9: 17 June - Too Young to Surf?

We think you’re never too young to learn how to surf, but one little girl may disagree.

Day 10: 18 June - Waterfall

Taking a break from the beach, we head into the jungle to explore a nearby waterfall.

Day 11: 19 June - Water Bottle Bowling

Day 12: 20 June - World Cup Update

Nothing beats a good soccer match for a cultural experience in Latin America. Especially when it’s such an important win! The headed goal against Italy moved Costa Rica into the second round of the World Cup. We had the joy of watching some locals celebrate.

Day 13: 21 June - Horseback

TEN: Age of oldest children even if the guides didn’t believe us

NINE: People in our party

EIGHT: Horses total

SEVEN: Kids who couldn’t reach the stirrups

SIX: Bolts of lightening (not on the beach)

FIVE: Times we asked the guides if we should turn around

FOUR: Runaway horses

THREE: Groups of double riders

TWO: Crazy moms

ONE: Really great time!

Day 14: 22 June - Sleepovers

A couple of years ago, Kat and I rented a home together in Antigua, Guatemala. It was the perfect solution for our first-time extended stay combining both families. During the stay, we realized that the ideal situation would be to have two separate units next to each other. This would accommodate varying degrees of what we call space bubbles — the amount of personal space each child (or adult) needs. Since the bubble size may increase without warning, having separate homes for each family can translate into a better experience.

This year, I found a small complex in Nosara that had separate units and a shared pool. It was perfect. So many of the rental properties in the area have open-access pools, which I knew would not work for my 20-month-old baby and timid four-year-old swimmer.

So far, it’s working well. Except for one thing: the kids really want sleepovers.

Zeke and Cora planned an elaborate presentation on the benefits of sleepovers and spending more time with friends. They got a few facts wrong (especially the part where kids sleep better when they have a sleepover) but we were willing to entertain their proposal. This included better behavior and no sassy talkback for 24 hours prior to the sleepover commencement. Here they are awaiting our decision. Negotiating Sleepovers We agreed. For the most part, everything went as we anticipated. They stayed up too late. They woke up too early. They were a little bit grumpier than usual the next day. But they were very, very happy for the reward.

Day 15: 23 June - Kayaking the Rio Montana

Poor Bill of Coconut Adventures didn’t know what he’d signed up for when he agreed to take us on the Rio Montana.

The moms had hoped that we could paddle board the river, but Bill talked us out of it on account of the kids ages. I’m glad he did. As it was, we only had one good paddler per kayak at any given time. But as you can see, it was a wild and fun time.

Thanks Bill for the fun time and for letting us take photos with your waterproof, floating camera. We had a blast.

Day 16: 23 June - Sunset Soccer Match

Killing time before bed. By evening all the beginner surfers are gone along with most of the tourists. Spontaneous soccer games dot sunset views. Plenty of hermit crabs (called caricacos, which is totally fun to say) are ready to be moved to their new sand fort homes that have been carefully constructed by these cuties.

Day 17: 24 June - Dayton Daddy

The Dayton daddy arrived today for some fun in Costa Rica before the whole family returns at the end of the month. It’s so great to witness the reunion, but it made this gaggle of girls (four small and one big) very eager for the daddy of our family to arrive in nine (seemingly very long) days.

Day 18: 25 June - Mama Turtle

Witnessing this mama Olive Ridley turtle lay her eggs was a trip highlight. As the mama entered her birthing trance, we were allowed to watch via a non-disturbing red light. The children had never been quieter. The rhythm of her breath and then the scoop, scoop, pat, pat as she buried her eggs are sounds I will never forget.

Only one egg out of the 80 – 120 is likely to make it to adulthood. Sharks and humans pose the biggest threat to the mothers. Dogs, birds, and crabs are the most likely predators to the eggs and tiny baby turtles as they make their journey back to the ocean.

Playa Ostional is a special place for birthing turtles. Its dark sand beaches keep the eggs warmer and camouflage the baby turtles as they hatch and crawl back to the water. This journey is an important one for the babies. They grow stronger with every scoot. The process becomes hardwired into their tiny little turtle beings and if they make it to adulthood, they will remember the beach and return to deliver their own eggs.

I’ve noticed how each child has had a little more reverence and respect for wildlife since we witnessed the mama turtle lay her eggs. They saw her carefully cover and camouflage her birthing spot. She was exhausted when she returned to the water. She stopped every few seconds to rest and recover. Even little Minerva followed her every step until she was safely home.

That mama Olive Ridley turtle has made me reflect on all mamas everywhere; the ones who love, protect, and nurture their little ones. I hope to be counted among them and I’m grateful for the example of wonderful mothers who have paved the way.

Day 19: 26 June - Warriors

Having a little fun with colored zinc.

Day 20: 27 June - Seekret Spot

Exploring on the super cart led us to the Seekret Spot. Thanks to a healthy Italian population, the journey also led us to some pretty darn good gelato. We had so much fun, but getting home before sunset was a challenge. Kat and I once again found ourselves hanging out the side of the super cart with flashlights or iPhones trying to illuminate the potholes before getting stuck in one.

Day 21: 28 June - Mini Golf

One of the advantages to traveling is that you think of doing things you never do at home. My kids had never been mini golfing before even though there are a few courses near our home. They loved it. Well, most of them.

Day 22: 29 June - Shootout Victory

Another intense win for Costa Rica in today’s World Cup. After overtime did not produce a winner, Costa Rica and Greece went head to head in a shootout. Goal after goal was successful. When Greece missed on their fourth shot, Costa Rica secured the win and the locals at Harbor Reef went crazy!

We celebrated with them by waving a Costa Rica flag from the back of our super golf cart, which was beyond capacity at ten people. We hooted and hollered in response to the honking cars, motorcycles and ATVs. We went back to the Italian Gelataria to celebrate and enjoyed sunset at the Seekret Spot where locals were swimming, rejoicing, drinking, and dancing.

Day 23: 30 June - Adios Amigos

Our original Nosara group says goodbye. The Daytons are headed home today and everyone is a little bummed, except Philippa. She can hardly wait for ice cream from a certain establishment that couldn’t handle our group size when one very adorable kid was too tired and too hungry to be patient.

We sure love you Daytrons. Thanks for leaving behind some yummy black beans and Nutella. Most of all, thanks for making this trip such a special one. We loved all of our adventures and can hardly wait for more.

Love,

The Gummies

Day 24: 1 July - More Fun and Learning

This morning we got to help plant trees on Playa Guiones. I snapped a few photos with the iPhone, but they have mysteriously been replaced by 43 pictures of a four-year-old’s foot. We’ll have to go back and take some redo photos.The kids are excited to return to Nosara some day to see how big their trees have grown.

We continue to catch waves and have fun. Our fearless surf and Spanish camp leader, Tinis Gomar, has become part of the family. As we begin our last week in Nosara, and consider all the great things we will miss, Tinis and helper Rolo are at the top of the list.

Day 25: 2 July - Problems in Paradise

Even life in paradise has a few drawbacks. From bug bites to bee stings, sunshine and rain, a doctor’s visit and the less-appealing side of Costa Rica. Click here to view the full dispatch. 

Day 26: 3 July - Getting Kicked

This Saturday, Nosara expects the biggest swell of the season. As a result, the waves are big and they break fast. Even some advanced surfers are letting their boards rest. As we struggle to get to the outside waves, we realize that if we catch a wave, it will probably twist and turn us under the water for several seconds before we return to the surface only to be smashed by another in the long set.

An hour of surfing was long enough and Tinis suggested we head back to her home where her Italian boyfriend Riccardo could do some personal training while the kids enjoyed a different setting for their Spanish class.

It was a welcome break even if we still got our butts kicked out of the water.

Day 27: 4 July - Daddy, Stingray, and Happy Girls

We could not be happier to have the daddy back. We started out the day by showing him our new surf moves.

Next, dad takes his turn, but gets interrupted by a stingray. Somehow, the girls and I survived almost four weeks without any problems. Poor John got stung on his second entry. Hot water is the fastest remedy and our friends at the Beach Dog Cafe helped us once again.

We celebrated dad’s arrival and Independence Day with two servings of ice cream.

Finally, sunset at Playa Pelada with lots of happy girls.

Day 28: 5 July - Proud Mama

Today, I am one proud mama. Some reasons why:

Ticos: Played an amazing game today. Sadly, Costa Rica was eliminated in the quarter-finals of the World Cup thanks to a win by the Netherlands in a shootout. Everyone was sad, but the locals continued to cheer on the Ticos and wave flags high.

John: Wasted no time surfing after the stingray incident from yesterday.

Minerva: Took one of very few decent naps.

Myself: Finished an impressive amount of laundry in preparation to leave behind the almost working washer and dryer in Nosara.

Day 29: 6 July - Uneven Ground

We started the day with an early morning earthquake. The poor people below our unit were pretty scared. By now, they are used to their ceiling shaking thanks to my girls running laps in the villa every morning, but today the ground was shaking below them too. Having been in some much bigger earthquakes in Honduras and Chile, it didn’t seem to faze anyone in our family.

We were anxious to get on our way for a fun day. By 7AM we were pulling out of the long driveway in our rented Hyundai H-1 super-van. We thought it would be a minivan. It is not. It’s huge and difficult to maneuver, especially in reverse. In an effort to avoid parked cars and a cliff to the right of the van, John clung to the retaining wall on the left side. He was unaware of the un-grated drainage box in the driveway next to said retaining wall.

Special thanks to Sergio of Thrifty Car Rental who jacked, piled rocks high, and make-shift towed the van back out of the hole. By some miracle, the axle was still intact and we were off to show John one of our favorite spots: Catarata Mala Noche.

Day 30: 7 July - Leaving Nosara

It’s hard to believe we have been here four weeks and now it’s time to leave. I’m ready. We are sufficiently waterlogged and sunburned. We will miss some things about Nosara: the relaxed pace, the surfing, running around in swimsuits all day long, and our new friends. It’s hard to say goodbye to Tinis and Rolo – people who have taught, protected, and encouraged us for so many days.

We said goodbye to Rolo on Saturday before the World Cup game began. The happiest moment of my day was watching him continue to flip through a small photo album our group gave him. The Costa Rican national anthem was playing and he and his fellow Tico fans were huddled around the album smiling and laughing at the kids they’d grown to to love.

We gave Tinis her photo album this morning. We decided to cram in one more surf session before our 10AM checkout. When Tinis zoomed up on her motorcycle the way she had so many times before, the girls hid the album behind their backs. “Surprise!” they shouted.

She shot one glance at me wondering if it was what she had hoped. I nodded. She sat down, held my girls tight, and began to cry. I knew I needed someone like Tinis to make the trip special. It turns out that she needed a little dose of us too. She flipped through photo after photo of kids catching waves, laughing, making faces, throwing sand, finding shells, and making memories. She’ll never forget Zeke, Cora, Hero, Oscar, Philippa, Gus, or Minerva. And we will never forget her. Gracias por todo!

Day 31: 8 July - Rio Celeste

We made the long, bumpy drive to Rio Celeste Hideaway in the 12-passenger van. The girls loved having extra space and we felt very lucky that the van made it to our destination. Four-wheel drive is highly recommended in this country, especially on rural roads. I’m regretting that I let my kids vote on what kind of car we rented for this portion of the trip. They love vans. I do not, but the Hyundai H-1 has outperformed our expectations.

We are definitely in the rainforest now. It rains half of the day and night. The flora and fauna are amazing, and the green landscape flows with rivers and waterfalls. Also, my skin loves the humidity.

Still, two nights here will be enough. I’m a desert girl. Somehow the intense heat and cold that I get back home is bearable because of the accompanying dryness. The clouds that linger in the jungle have found their way inside my head and lungs. It is perpetually, paper-curlingly damp here. It is so humid that the bed sheets feel damp and nothing dries on its own. Although I may not thrive in this environment, plenty of beautiful things do.

Day 32: 9 July - Minerva Tires

I wish today’s post was about the much needed nap Minerva took on our drive to Arenal Kioro in La Fortuna. It is not, and she’s still tired. We started the day with a little hiking before leaving Rio Celeste. The Armadillo trail leads through rainforest for about half a mile, down to the Rio Celeste.

After hiking, breakfast, and staff farewells, we loaded up the kids and headed out on the gravel road toward the town of San Rafael de Guatuso. All was well, until the GPS led us on an unrequested “shortcut” on steep, winding, mud-slick mountain roads. Locals on motorbikes gave us the “what are you doing here” look. Driving required several BE-TOTALLY-QUIET! moments. The route was not really a shortcut in the Hyundai H-1, but with some fancy first-gear second-gear cumbia, we made it. To celebrate, we stopped for lunch at Nene’s Restaurante — a favorite place we’ve visited on past trips.

Side note: I’m always impressed by how well John remembers places we’ve traveled. He can easily navigate in any city we’ve visited, regardless of how long it’s been. He snaps mental photos of streets, buildings, and plazas and can somehow remember how those locations relate to the broader surroundings.

While we were enjoying lunch at Nene’s, the waiter informed us that one of our rear tires was as flat as a tortilla. Carajo. Of course it was, after the drive we’d just endured. John went outside to have a look and see if he could find the jack. At almost the same instant, another deluge began.

John switched out the spare in the pouring rain, assisted by friendly Ticos who offered tools and advice. Watching from the dry area under the open back door of the van, our baby thought the whole scene was very funny. Of course she did; these were “Minerva” brand tires.

Day 33: 10 July - Happy Birthday Daddy

Happy birthday to this guy! Forty-four never looked so good (IMHO). We celebrated with some pool time and on-site hot springs at Arenal Kioro.

Then, we had a blast rappelling with our two big girls. It’s fun to see their personalities come out on top of giant waterfalls. One can hardly wait to jump off while the other is consistently checking to make sure that the guides have secured her properly.

Day 34: 11 July - Good Times at Rio Perdido

I admit it. This morning as I packed the bags with never-dry clothes before leaving La Fortuna, I was ready to go home. The final stretch of any trip (whether it’s three days or three months) is like that for me; I want to wash everything, buy a bunch of fresh produce from my neighborhood grocery store, and sleep in my own bed. I like Arenal Kioro; it’s a great place for families. The in-room Jacuzzi was a big hit with the girls, the property has on-site hot springs, and the rooms offer unobstructed views of the volcano. But by this point, I was ready to get into the Hyundai van and head to the nearest airport.

My desire to go home increased as we drove through more rain toward the town of Tilaran, tracing the lakeshore on another twisting, nauseating Costa Rican road.  About an hour in, poor Minerva startled herself awake as she lost her breakfast all over herself. Even Bob, her purple Jellycat bunny, was covered. We pulled over on the muddy shoulder, cleaned up the mess, shooed out the wasps that had flown into the van, and laughed it all off. Within the hour we’d stopped for a needed break at Tom’s Pan, a German bakery in the town of Nuevo Arenal.

Our drive continued through thick rainforest and waterlogged towns. Then, about 32 kilometers later, a miracle: the clouds lifted and we reentered the sunny Guanacaste region. Soon after, we were enjoying the view at a fantastic new lodge nestled in tropical dry forest at the edge of a river gorge. We love Rio Perdido. It is a perfect place for families: fun activities, well-designed rooms, comfy beds, friendly staff, good food, and a drier climate. We couldn’t wait to try the zipline canopy tour — my new favorite in Costa Rica. It has everything: five zipline cables over river canyons and forest, a hanging bridge, several via ferrata scrambles, and a Tarzan swing. Our little Pip is officially the smallest child to do this canopy tour. She may be timid in the water, but she’s always wanted to fly. Now, she can’t stop smiling and talking about it.

Day 35: 12 July - Tubing, Mud Baths, and More

More fun and adrenalin rushes: cliff jumping, tubing through the rapids of the Rio Blanco, spotting a porcupine, volcanic mud baths, swimming in a thermal river, mountain biking, and plenty of pool time. We’re packing in all the fun at Rio Perdido while we can and my abs are sore from all the laughing.

Day 36: 13 July - Eat. Swim. Sleep. Repeat.

After a morning swim in the non-chlorinated, naturally-heated, simply-wonderful, well-water pools at Rio Perdido, we drive to the Papago Peninsula to visit the new property Andaz.

On the way, we pass through the Baguales region of Costa Rica, which is famous for really delicious watermelons.

Andaz exceeded our expectations. The Papagayo Peninsula is so pretty. It’s an easy place to enjoy year round and remains mostly dry and sunny even during Costa Rica’s green season.

Day 37: 14 July - Relax

Bless John. He is a good man who recognizes that taking four kids to Costa Rica can be exhausting. This morning he surprised me with a yoga class and massage appointment. It was a much-needed break from the stress of dragging these wonderful ladies all over Costa Rica the last 37 days.

Meanwhile, he was busy taking the big girls to the gaming room, chaperoning little ones at a kids’ club, checking out the beach, swimming, and ordering a Margherita pizza (their favorite) and snow cones by the pool.

Day 38: 15 July - San Jose

Headed back to San Jose to visit friends and enjoy a wonderful, vegetarian meal at Mandala. Gearing up for a full day of travel, we needed a nutrient-rich, delicious meal. The smoothies were amazing! I can hardly wait to load up on fruits and vegetables and blend like crazy when we get home. We spent the night at the Park Inn by Radisson  in Escazu, San Jose. It should be fairly easy to get to the airport for our early-morning flight back home.

Day 39: 16 July - Heading Home

The 3AM wakeup call was dreadful, but missing our plane home would have been worse. One kid was happy, excited to go home, and cooperative. One kid was still asleep during the dressing and hair/teeth brushing and therefore was also cooperative. One kid was tolerable so long as she was holding Bob the purple bunny. One kid, my night owl, was a real bear. We had a couple snap-out-of-it moments in loud hush with hopes that neighbors were still sleeping peacefully.

Day 40: 17 July - Re-entry

Last night I said a small prayer that went something like this:

I’m grateful for a wonderful trip. I’m grateful no one was seriously sick or injured. I’m grateful to have really enjoyed my children. I’m grateful to have seen and done such wonderful things. I’m grateful to have met such lovely people. Please, pretty please, let my children sleep past 6AM.

I didn’t dare expect that last bit. Not with bright-eyed children in the 4 and early 5AM hours of every day. But I could hope, right? At 6:05AM when the first child crawled into my bed, I checked my clock, and simply said, “Thank you!”

The day has been full of laundry, errands, clean-up, and happy-to-be-home children. Minerva was easily the most difficult child for me on this long trip. She wanted to be held and comforted (only by me) every waking moment. Today, she has been too busy hugging stuffed animals and opening every cupboard in the house to remember her reserved place on my hip. In her 22-month babble, she says hello to all the things we missed. “Fruit leather in the pantry, hello. Wow! You’re still here toys under the stairs. Mom, remember my hiding spot in the play kitchen? I found Elmo!”

I got all the produce I’ve been craving. Not even a corn kernel will go to waste. I’m certain. First up was a delicious green smoothie:

Two handfuls of kale

Three celery stocks

One green apple

One cucumber

Two cups frozen pineapple

One mango

Little bit of fresh ginger

Distilled water and ice cubes

We drank and drank. Later, we’ll enjoy the frozen popsicles with what was leftover. So nice to be home.

Day 41: 18 July - Post Trip Clean Up

Goal: Finish cleaning up by 48 hours after return.

Laundry. Check.

Grocery. Check

Luggage. Check

Cameras and Electronics: Check

Just a few random items left. Hallelujah!

Costa Rica Dates

John kept with tradition and had dates with all of his girls in Costa Rica. Just one hour of one-on-one time refills their love-for-daddy tank and makes for better attitudes and experiences for the days that follow. Not shown: mom and dad date.

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