Sunday, March 9, 2014

nosara, costa rica

Last Friday night we put the kids to bed at normaltimeish, cleaned up after dinner, watched an episode of House of Cards, and woke them back up again. I pushed shoes on over PJ bottoms while LD and my dad loaded the car with what I think is a family record for number of suitcases employed in the conveying four people's stuff from one destination to another. I vowed this time would be the first in my five years of motherhood when packing for my family didn't feature the omission of some critical bit of clothing or equipment - items that frequently require repurchasing at a painful mark-up when their absence was eventually noted. In Disneyland I paid more for underwear for Munch than I usually pay for my own.

A few minutes before midnight we boarded an overnight flight to Houston and a few minutes after takeoff, all four of us fell asleep. The problem with an overnight flight to Houston is that it's not actually "overnight" so much as "early night to later night", and when we landed, 3.5 hours later, no one was ready to function in the new day.

I blame sleep deprivation for a hazy recollection of what my children ate for breakfast that morning in the airport. There were definitely donuts. We met up with Jordan's family and boarded the second flight to Liberia, Costa Rica. We met Dan's family outside customs and climbed into a van that would lumber south for two hours before we finally arrived in Nosara, a sleepy surf town buried at the end of an unpaved road along the Nicoya peninsula's western edge.
And, with the exception of one afternoon excursion to Playa Pelada, we didn't leave Nosara for the eight days we were there. We talked about day trips to the nearby monkey sanctuary, wildlife refuge, a guided nature tour, or zip lining, but when it came down to figuring out the logistics and making reservations, it suddenly (and repeatedly) seemed preferable to just re-do today. Again. And then again some more, so that now, at the end of our week I'm only familiar with the bougainvillea-lined path between our house, the beach, the ice cream shop, and the treetop yoga studio.

Dan found the house on VRBO. The bedroom quarters were tall and narrow with a ground level living and kitchen space that spilled into a indoor/outdoor patio and pool area. The husbands got up with the daylight to surf while the wives slept in, shared coffee, and fed the babies.  Munch and Wow were usually in the pool before LD got back, and I’d leave the three of them splashing in their rash guards to go running on the beach while a morning breeze kept the tropical heat tolerable for aerobic exercise. White vapor rose from the thicket of trees that spilled onto the sand, and with the disappearance of the breeze and the vapor came the full effect of a blazing tropical sun.

When I got back, the moms (Debby, Steph and I) would bump along unpaved roads in a golf cart, park next to the "no parking" sign at the base of Nosara's Yoga Institute, and hike a short distance up to the treetop studio for a pre-lunch class in a canopy of palm trees.

It was as freaking amazing as it sounds.

There was more family to family variation in the afternoons, allowing for the different needs and nap schedules imposed by 1 year old Luk, 2.5 year old Jul, Munch, and Wow. And by variation, I mean

beach time

ice cream,

coconut water
or, not infrequently, all three.

I had never heard of Nosara before Dan and Jordan proposed it as a possible destination for a group family vacation.  Although Nosara is also known for its beautiful beach and relative safety, the main reason for this suggestion (and their wanting to return after a trip two years prior) was fairly specific.

Jordan and Dan
I'd warned Debby (Luk's mom) when we spoke on the phone and whom I haven't seen since we left San Diego 4 years ago, that we, um..there's um.. a lot of yelling that happens in our household and that I hoped living with us for a week wouldn't be too, um, intense.... She assured me it would be fine.

And it was. The four kids got along as best as can be expected. Luk got knocked over and roughed up a bit, Wow and Jul stole each other's toy cars and plastic airplanes, and took turns throwing them into the pool. Jul initially showed an interest in whatever Munch was doing, and she reciprocated this interest by developing an vehement hypersensitivity to anyone touching her crayons or watching her draw. Two seconds after Jordan yelled SLOW DOWN, Jul tripped, skid down the gravel, and took the skin off his forehead, chin, and knee cap.  Luk tasted his first ice cream, and immediately broke out into hives.  Wow cut his eye lid on the staircase, blackened the forehead on the coffee table, and within an hour of arrival, threw a toy into the pool, leaned over to retrieve it, and tumbled in. Very disappointing, young man.

So, in sum, when traveling with people who are not blood relations, I'd highly recommend the parents of other young children who are also in the middle of the are you kidding me with this? years of child-rearing.

But it was a lot of fun. Almost without exception the ten of us ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner crowded together around the patio dining table. Dan hired a cook and housekeeper to come in a few times during the week and off load some of the more chore-like aspects of vacationing with kids. Meals, whether they were prepared by us or the cook, were based on a framework of beans, rice, avocado, tortillas, and grilled meat. The kids got used to mango in the guacamole, coconut in the oatmeal, and papaya after almost every meal.

Wow fell in love with Steph.
Jul fell in love with Munch.
Munch fell in love with waves.
And Luk was just relived to be free of the Nor'easter storms, if only for a short while

(hives shortly to follow) 
When the sun set on our last night in Costa Rica, all ten of us were down at the beach. The boys were inspecting, and (eventually) releasing the small crustaceans they'd catch on the shoreline. Munch could not be enticed out of the water, and so she and I were the last ones still playing in the waves.  I wanted to watch the sun as it dropped towards the horizon, but had to continualy reassess Munch's location as she kept moving deeper and farther away from me. Another wave toppled her over and as her head disappeared beneath the white surf I thought for the zillionth time that day that I wished my children were just a little more afraid of the water.  I meant to chastise her again, but she came up with a smile on her face. She coughed, caught her breath, and laughed THIS IS THE FUNNEST DAY EVER.


  1. Looks like a wonderful time! Love the pictures and so jealous of the yoga. I love the coconut pictures! So fun. Wow's hair looks like it's getting darker. Glad you guys enjoyed yourselves.

  2. Sounds frickin' AMAZING. I love the idea of hiring someone to do your cooking/cleaning so that you don't have to worry about that. We will totally have to steal this idea for a vacation in our distant future.

  3. I am dying inside with jealousy. The whole things sounds AMAZING! And yet again I am completely awed by your sense of adventure with your family. Crazy for us was letting the 4 year old stay up until 9 last night (daylight savings time+unexpected carseat nap=not tired at 8). I am recovering from that. Seriously. You are inspiring me to think outside the box ("the box"=sleep schedules)

    1. I do like our family "adventures" but def have that feeling that I could use a vaca at the end of my vaca - although less so with hired help and a good set up for them to entertain themselves.... they were still super grumpy this AM...


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