Time flies…especially when you are having fun! We have just completed our second month on the road and it’s hard to believe that it has been that long because time has passed so quickly. Three weeks in the US, four weeks Costa Rica and one in Nicaragua has bolstered our travel-confidence in that we have faced mild challenges by navigating land border crossings solely in Spanish, fended off raging mosquitos, dealt with stifling heat/humidity, and eventually found our way to dinner after being moderately lost (in the dark … during a down pour of biblical proportions … on an unlighted dirt road … in the middle of no-where) without losing our sense of humor. We have learned that it is much easier to do school work before a big activity (white water rafting, zip lining, etc.) rather than afterward, that cookies and a cold drink really do make a sweaty day much more bearable, and that we likely don’t need half of the stuff we thought that we did.
Costa Rica and Nicaragua have been a blast – if nothing else for than the sheer amount of different things there are to do here. In the past five weeks we have tried kite boarding (largely a bust because of little wind the week we were there), learned to surf, went for our first family white water trip, looked in to the crater of an active volcano, found incredible wildlife everywhere we went, hiked through incredibly dense primary cloud and rain forests, went zip lining (including a 1 km long superman style cable), milked a cow, lived with a Costa Rican family on their farm, jumped off of a 30 meter platform on a Tarzan swing, went for two different horseback rides to beautiful waterfalls, and spent a week working with rescued wild animals.
We have played with baby capuchin monkeys and had their wild counterparts visit us in a tree house. We have watched a caiman hunt a tilapia fish and swallow it whole. We have seen the effects of the war in Nicaragua and been able to contrast that with the relative wealth and stability of Costa Rica. We have learned about the black market pet trade and the impact of US wealth on other nations.
The kids have been simply awesome. They have truly embraced the challenges of travel with aplomb and grace. This is not to say that it has been “easy” for any of us. We still miss Moxie and the comforts of our home. Lucia had to learn to deal with the real threat of spiders and scorpions when we were in Nicaragua. But, after a few days, she said, “You know, it’s really not a big deal. You just have to shake out your clothes and watch where you walk.” Mac has had to adjust to near-constant transitions, not something that comes naturally for our little home-body. He has, however, developed an understanding that change will happen whether or not he wants it to happen but that fighting the change doesn’t help the process any. Instead we are now trying to include some “down time” when we get to a new place so he can settle more quickly and make sure he knows what to expect for the next few weeks.
Both kids have embraced the differences in food – Lucia loves mamones (lychee fruit) and casado for lunch while Mac found heaven with fresh pineapple juice, plates of grilled meat and nachos in all of their different forms (he wouldn't even try them in the US). During our week with a Costa Rican family, neither kid ever asked for special food – they ate at least a little of everything they were served and asked for seconds of the things they really enjoyed.
When their Spanish teacher was not able to come one day at the animal rescue center,
the kids volunteered to work all day instead of going to the movies for the afternoon. Cleaning up a stinky peccary pen, getting dive-bombed by parrots and scraping monkey poop off of the floor isn’t all that much fun, but they were troopers and didn’t get distracted all afternoon. The gentleman they were working with said, “Los muchachos son muy valiente” for working all day. We couldn’t be more proud of them and their positive attitudes.
Now that we have had a good chunk of time in this part of Central America, we are ready to head off on our next adventure, South America. We understand that Costa Rica is much more developed and Westernized than many of the other Central American countries but now feel that we are ready to experience the cultural differences of South America without being overwhelmed. Our first stop is Ecuador (including the Galapagos), then off to Peru and a small excursion in to Chile and then Argentina for Christmas and New Years.