So, we had arrived in Costa Rica, checked into the resort and settled in in our hacienda. Well, the “little” hacienda was in fact the same size as a terraced 2 bedroom house in Ireland, but decorated with marble tiles and in a nice neighbourhood. It had two queen size beds, which were quickly occupied by the kids in one and my wife in the other, leaving me with a 2-seater sofa. Furthermore, it had a small 40″ flatscreen TV, small kitchen, dining area, living room and of course a huge bathroom. We even had our own porch, overlooking a lake with an abundance of wild life; caymans, parrots, monkeys, etc.
One important thing to mention. This was an all inclusive resort, which included mini bar and room service, 24/7. We were spoiled rotten in this resort and we loved it. It even had WIFI broadband included. The entire resort was serviced by oversized golfcarts, which acted like a small bus service.
Like so many resorts in Central America, it included evening shows. Most of these shows were corny, but excellent for families. They started at 19.00 (7 pm) and they had loads of interaction with kids. In fact, the first hour was a kids show and all kids were invited onto stage to participate. The show was hosted by the same three girls that looked after the kids club, so my son was delighted to climb onto the stage.
As soon as the music started, our son would entertain the entire audience, with the moonwalk, booty shake, robot, worm and the classic metal headbangs. The crowd were loving it and so was he. However, the other kids weren’t too impressed, as he was dancing throughout their competition, completely ignoring to participate in musical chairs. The longest marathon dance he did was over 3 minutes long- non-stop. He was later known as the human dance machine.
Most activities took place during the day and roasting the bacon (on the sunbed or swimming pool) won the popularity contest by rated and attended. We probably spent the majority of days next to or in the pool. Our son was still wearing diapers, so as soon as his bum hit the water the diaper expanded like an air mattress. This was obviosuly caused by the water being sucked into the diaper. Some diapers can contain a lot of water. So, with the amount of extra weight on his bum, he had no problems standing up in the water – the only problems were that the diaper emptied the paddling pool, as all the water was now contained in his diaper. The second problem was that he brought all the water with him when he exited the pool, flooding the sunbed area.
This was also the year my daughter got interested in golf – at least for the duration of our holidays. We hired a golf buggy and took a guided tour around the golf course to see the animal life. Because all the monkeys were hiding on the top tree branches, all we saw was pink monkey bums. Not the best angle to look at monkeys. Our guide was the resident golf pro. He persuaded us to send our daughter to a 90 minute kids training session. We tend to get somewhat enthusiastic when our kids try new stuff, and we want to make sure they have the right gear, so we bought her a golf glove, hat and almost bought her golf clubs as well (We got those when we returned..).
I went with her for the session, but the instructor asked me quickly to leave as I was disrupting the training – probably because I was lying on the grass next to her, trying to take pictures and shouted “action” to get some proper family video footage. I was so proud of my daugther, as she was digging a new bunker on the landscaped golf course. It didn’t matter that she took 40 strokes to get on the green and then picked up her ball. The important thing was that she had fun.
Wildlife in the resort was amazing, especially the amount of iguanas next to our hacienda. Several of these were vicious creatures and they wanted to fight me whenever they had the opportunity. They would hide under the palmbush, wait for my family to pass and then they would charge towards me. I would of course run screaming away, pushing my kids between me and the attacker and jump onto the porch. Let me also clarify that it did not work blowing cigratte smoke on them!
One particular iguana was the size of our labrador and I quickly named him (or her – it’s difficult to tell gender on an animal that you are trying to escape from!) Godzilla. I swear, that creature was a re-incarnated demon, at least towards me. When we left the resort, heading home, the friendly bellboy told me that iguanas are actually vegetarians!
What else was available in the resort beside the restaurants, water sport activities, pool, bars and music? Well, my wife loves shopping and they had a few souvenir shops in the resort. One day, when the rain came down in buckets, we spent an hour in a 4 x 4 foot souvenir shop, buying local arts and crafts. I picked a nice hand drawn picture, but we couldn’t carry it for all the other stuff my wife and kids bought, so I had to leave my picture behind.
The weirdest thing we did while in Costa Rica, was pretending it was our kids birthdays, just so they could get a party at the kids club. My wife informed the staff that our son just had his birthday and our daughter would have hers a couple of weeks after we return home…honestly, their birthdays were months ago! But, that’s beside the point, the main thing is that our kids enjoyed themselves, and they did. The kids club organised parties for them, with cakes and games.
We also went on a river cruise to see the rainforest. These excursion are normally start early 06.00 (am) and return early afternoon, lunch included. One thing you learn as a parent is to pack a survival kit containing; changing clothes, diapers, wipes, juices, snacks, sun lotion and toys. It is normally me who has to carry this. Just to explain something else, I’m Scandinavian and I’m NOT build for excruciating heat. I will sweat so much that I could provide a small village with their water supply. After two days, I would be red as a lobster and other tourists would point at me, but that’s probably because I only get tanned on the upper part of my stomach, and the lower part doesn’t because it is always in the shade!! I always buy, what I at that moment think looks cool, a straw hat shaped like a cowboy hat. This just make me stand out even more, but it actually cools off my head.
The river cruise was a small 30 seater long river boat, with a guide. The first crocodile we saw was exciting, but when we had seen 50-60 crocodiles, then novelty wore off. However, it was an amazing tour, seeing all the animals. Just going through the rainforest itself was surreal. As we were heading back, my daughter whispered that she had to pee. There were no toilets on the river boat, but it had smooth fiberglass floor. We slowly moved to the back of the boat, she took off her bathing suit (the only clothes kids wear on holidays) and peed on the floor. As the boat turned, the pee quickly rolled over my feet and headed towards the passengers at the front. But, it was slowly mixing with the other water in the boat, so no-one would notice – except my sandals. It’s amazing how much pee can smell when it gets really warm!
Back at the shore, my son had to be changed, after having done 1 and 2. There are NO, I mean NO, baby changing facilities in the jungle, so I had to take off his pants, put him on a bench beside the outdoor restaurant and change him. Where did I put the diaper? Well, the friendly staff just took it and threw it out. I was more embarresed than anybody, but nobody really minded – or at least they pretended well.
The second trip was to the local volcano – an active volcano! Here we had the opportunity to walk in the canopies, slide across the treetops on a wire and absail down the tree. What was even more fun was that we were bringing our kids who were 3 and 4 years old.
As you might remember, my wife is afraid of heights, but she had spoken at length with the guides and they said it was perfectly safe and it was only 1 wire we had to slide across.
We walked 0.5 mile into the jungle, higher and higher up the mountain, and finally made it to the first tree. I had lost 5 kgs of water, just by carrying my son up the narrow jungle path. Both of us were fully geared up with harness, helmet and boots. At the sight of the wire and tree, my wife almost fainted. Her teeth were deep embedded into the tree, as the instructor was trying to wrestle her free off the tree. There were barely any space for us to stand on. There were only a few planks to stand on, and we were 15 adults and four kids! After sliding across the first time, we found out there were not just 1 wire to cross, but 10 wires in total. Each approx. 40-50 long, 25 meters above the ground. And what was even worse, there were no way either of us could hold a child too. So, the instructors looked after the kids, sliding across with them and then we would join them. My daughter was the first across, then my wife, me and then my son. At the end, my daughter was giving everybody high fives, as they crossed. My wife’s clothes were completely soaked of sweat, and probably pee, all caused by pure fear. But, she did it.
Then, we decided to try the longest water slide in America, South, Central and North – I think it was over 0.5 mile long. The walk to the top caused me to loose another 3kg again because I was carrying my son on my shoulders up the mountain, sweating profoundly and creating puddles. I was sliding down with our son and my wife sliding down with our daughter. They used inflated tractor tire tubes as transportation! They used natural water, from the river, (freezing cold) as lubricant, and this worked a treat. They said you had three speeds; fast, faster or super fast. We chose fast only. My son screamed and cried of fear for the duration of the slide, but I could not just stop and get out. We were going at least 30mph (or at least very fast). It didn’t make it any better that when you get to the bottom, you drop into an ice cold pool of water. We both went under. All the women rushed to my son’s aid and to comfort him, and they all gave my stares that could kill. Nobody helped me out.
To finish off the volcano visit, we went to the natural hot springs. This was absolutely fantastic. My wife and daughter went by horse through the jungle, crossing rivers, but my son and I took the tractor instead. I didn’t think he would be ready for another wild adventure, minutes after his water slide trauma. So, we enjoyed a couple of hours in nice hot springs, simply relaxing.
On the way home in the bus, our son poohed, sharing the aroma with our fellow passengers until we reached the bus depot. They only had to suffer for 30 minutes. It could have been a lot worse, right?
A few days later we had to pack and return back to Ireland. All in all, we had a brilliant trip to Costa Rica. Special thanks to my wonderful wife, who organised another perfect holiday for the family.