Before we started this adventure some 18-plus months ago, we had at various times, been in all seven Central American countries. Oddly, though, the country we’d spent the least time in was Costa Rica, which many people say is one of the great tourist destinations in the world. So with a few weeks before joining family in San Diego for the Holidays, we figured Costa Rica was a perfect destination. And with our first stop under our belt, it sure looks as though it was a good choice.To be honest, we have to thank my nephew Carl and his wife Hannah for the suggestion. A few months ago they decided to take their eight kids (yes, you read that right) to Costa Rica for a month and asked if we were going to be anywhere in the area. My first question was “What parents take their kids to such a cool place for a whole month, to say nothing of eight kids?” My second question was “How is that my nephew and his wife became those cool parents?”
At any rate, much of their trip was going to overlap with our time in Mexico that we’d already booked, but we realized that if we hurried down from San Miguel de Allende we could get there for the last three days of their stay. And to our delight there was a nice resort right next to the house they’d rented near the park so it worked perfectly.
Carl & Hannah live up in Fairbanks, Alaska, so we don’t get to spend a lot of time with them. And while three days at the end of the month-long trip isn’t a lot we packed a lot in, including one day zip lining with Carl, the two oldest boys, and Hannah’s sister who was along, too, and another day trip on a boat for snorkeling and assorted water merriment.The most fun, though, was just hanging out with the family. Some people might think eight kids (ages eight months to 12 years) is a lot, but it was really fun. Particularly amusing was not note that Carl & Hannah are really not hovering, helicopter parents; presumably with eight kids that’s just not possible. So the kids take care of themselves and each other when the parents are busy with other things. Of course, being both adorable as all get out and well behaved doesn’t hurt.
After the zip lining and boat trip, we took Carl & Hannah out to dinner for their last night in Costa Rica while Hannah’s sister Chelsea stayed with the kids. I’m not sure how much they enjoyed the quiet time for adult conversations but I sure did. At one point during our visit I’d noticed how odd it was to notice that your little nephew was starting to turn gray. After that dinner I noted how nice it was to actually get to know your nephew and his wife. All in all a wonderful visit.
Then we had a couple days on our own, so we actually went into the Park itself. It’s a tiny national park – at under 5,000 acres it’s the smallest national park in Costa Rica – but spectacularly beautiful, occasionally making lists of the best parks in the world; as Lonely Planet puts it, “…a stunning destination worthy of the tourist destination.” And stunning it was, as beautiful and perfect a beach as any we’ve seen, which is saying something.
But now we’re done with Manuel Antonio and headed south to Corcovado National Park on the Osa peninsula, a more isolated location for some hiking, maybe white water rafting, and whatever else you do in a remote jungle. We think there’s no Internet there, so we may not be back here for a while.