Wow. That was an awesome vacation. Costa Rica is wonderful. I highly recommend it.
Here are a few things I thought about, learned and saw during this journey:
1. Majesty - Erupting volcanoes are astonishingly beautiful and awe inspiring.
2. Kids - Three kids cooped up in a 4x4 traveling on gravel roads can be entertained for hours by telling them: "Level 1: let's see who's the first to spot a yellow flower." Repeat as necessary, increasing the level number and suggesting they look for ever less likely items. If all else fails, give the kids your iPhone and let them play monopoly on it...
3. GPS - a GPS will sometimes take you through a very narrow, steep and muddy road in which your 4x4 starts to slide, even though a perfectly good road exists that will take you to your destination faster and with considerably less stress. Trust me on this. Nevertheless, GPS devices are a god send. You get to a new country and you're not stressed about getting lost.
4. Ants - 4 year old kids can be hysterically frightened of ants once one of them gets an ant bite. On a related note, the sound made by a 4 year old screaming hysterically at the sight of an ant somewhere on the ground can clear out your sinuses and cure minor infections.
5. Rain - hiking in the rain is not as bad as you might think. Especially if it warm.
6. Blessings - I have traveled the world extensively and while abject poverty seems much lower in Costa Rica than in other places I have visited (e.g. Bolivia & Brazil), many people in the country live in crumbling shacks and in what seem to me like unfortunate conditions. I will try to remember that next time I bitch about a rough day at the office. Who am I kidding? Humans are incapable of living in a constant state of gratefulness. It might even be unhealthy.
7. Breaks - I love my work, but I really needed this break. I didn't even know it. There is much to be said for completely switching the gears in your head every once in a while and just relaxing. I think it might work even better without kids in the background, but what are you gonna do?
8. Crappy Roads - Next time I run into a pot hole on 101 (which is pretty much next time I drive it), I'll try to remember some of the potholes and some of the roads we drove in Costa Rica.
9. Disposition - I have nothing but good things to say about the people of Costa Rica. Everyone we met was positive, helpful and seemed... happy. People did their best to understand my horribly mangled Spanish. To be honest, most people actually speak some level of English, so some of my teeth are still intact.
10. Money - traveling with a family of 5 is definitely not a cheap trick. During the 10 days of our trip we spent more money than I spent traveling the world on my own with a backpack for 6 months. But, what is money good for unless you spend it to create memories?At the final tally, the memories are all that matter...
A Happy 2010 all!
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