This past summer, our family set out for a jungle adventure of a lifetime. Off we flew to the beautiful and amazing country of Costa Rica. We couldn’t wait to see the monkeys, toucans and hopefully a few sloths. Costa Rica has so much to see and so many incredible places to visit. With a timeline of only 10 days, I planned carefully and settled on 2 different areas to visit. Both locations were a bit of a distance from each other, but what’s a couple hundred miles? I then had to make the decision if we would catch jumper flights or just hit the roads of Central America. When traveling with 6 people, cost is always a consideration. Also, I want to keep in perspective that trips with my kids are meant to be a learning experience as well. So with little hesitation, I decided we would travel by land and make it an adventure while exploring the country. Reflecting back, I am thankful that I at least had enough sense to hire a driver to to the driving.
The family loaded into a nicely air conditioned 12 passenger van and the bickering between kids began. There were 4 rows and 6 people. Really it’s simple math, each person can’t have their own row. Also, only 2 people can sit in the front row, not 4 kids. This was the theme of every stop we made. As for stops, we made a lot, so there was a lot of fighting. Also, hiring a driver meant that we had another person in the van and they were in control of the driving. It makes it hard for us parents to threaten to pull over and leave the kids on the side of the road, in the middle of a foreign county, to help stop the bickering. I knew things must have been bad when the tour guide moved to the back and politely insisted that my middle schooler sat up front with the driver. So, we resorted to bribery of anything with sugar and it managed to keep the peace (somewhat).
We drove through amazing small villages & surf towns, near the highest elevations of Costa Rica, chatted with locals, and made our own sugar cane juice. Our tour guide had binoculars and could spot wildlife out of nowhere. It was amazing! The kids observed the world around them and actually asked amazing questions through the teasing, crying, fighting, and spills. We were going to survive and maybe not totally lose our sanity…so we thought. The last hour of the longest day ever (the only 200 mile day..haha), was the longest hour of our trip. My 7 year old said, “I’ve seen enough damn toucans and I am DONE”! (We can thank his wonderful language to his viewing of the Jack Ass movie on the redeye flight to CR as Dad slept peacefully). As parents know, when one link in the family unit falls apart the whole thing can get very ugly. We did arrive to our destination and didn’t leave any of our kids on the side of the road.
As the shock of the longest day ever wore off and the reality set in, I realized what we had experienced. We covered the gound of one of the most beautiful places in the world. My kids saw things they would have never seen from a plane. I laugh about it now and I wouldn’t change a thing. We created the most amazing memories with our family, but next time I think we’ll stay away from 200 mile drives!