6 kilometres of beach

This blog comes from the somewhere in the middle of America (anyone else hear Counting Crows lyrics going around in your head?). We are on a train to San Francisco and it’s snowing outside. I’ve taken a while to get this blog published however I’ve realised that some blogs just take longer to brew than others.

Charlotte loves to tell the story of how we ended up going to Costa Rica. Short version: Fights to Belize (our planned stop after Peru) were super-expensive and so we started thinking about other ways to get there. St.John tried using his many air miles – no partner airline went from Lima to Belize. This is the part that Charlotte tells with relish…We were standing in the queue to check-in on our way to San Pedro De Atacama, St.John did a broad based search on his British Airways app from Lima to anywhere in Central America… guess where popped up and we could use miles too… yip, Costa Rica. We booked online right then and there. A few hours of research later using phrases remote beaches, Stand Up Paddling and we had a destination, Zancudo. Bookings were made and we had a plan, well for 5 days at least…

When we landed on a small runway, with jungle on either side of us, in a very small plane and then had to catch a watertaxi for about 45 minutes, I knew we’d chosen a very remote place. We loved it so much, we ended up staying in Zancudo for 12 days and got to know many of the ‘locals’. They are mostly American ‘snowbirds’ who have escaped the harsh winter for warmer climes and a few that have chosen Zancudo as their home. Susan of Cabinas Los Cocos was a fountain of local knowledge, renter of SUP boards and she organised fabulous excursions for us. Rick and Lori of Sol Y Mar need a special mention for their insider hints and tips, entertaining conversation and ice cold beers. We loved our time there and Charlotte has just released You Tube video (@narwhalgirl ct) will have loads more about what we got up to.

We discovered a phrase heard a lot in Costa Rica, ‘Pura Vida’. Loosely translated it means, ‘the simple life’. In Costa Rica the meaning is stretched to – ‘the chilled way of life’. It’s quite a change of pace when your biggest concern is not getting hit by a falling coconut, while walking under the palm trees, to get to the beach or have a sundowner at the local bar. Needless to say, we settled into the ‘Pura Vida’ lifestyle pretty quickly! I won’t bore everyone with the details of the gorgeous remote 6km black beach (volcanic sand), warm seas and gentle waves.

Our mantra for this trip is: “To explore, enjoy, learn, share, stretch limits and open our minds to the possibilities that the world has to offer. Leaving each place and person better for our presence or interaction.” While we’d not been on the road long, the transition from our suburban life with routines and stability, to a life of moving every couple of days and being in countries where you hardly speak or understand the language had taken its toll. Never mind the close confines and 24/7 togetherness as a family. It’s been amazing but it’s not always sunshine and roses, I tell you!

In the first month, we learnt that we could stretch ourselves more than we thought. We became more agile and resilient, except, as it soon became apparent, to the mosquitos of Zancudo! The physical challenges we’d encountered in our first 6 weeks were not high and we enjoyed our morning runs and wandering around amazing cities and villages. The emotional toll, however, was higher than I anticipated. We had to deal with letting go of our own adult needs to plan, control and manage everything. We also had to manage a little girl who was missing her friends and had her very comfortable orderly life in Cape Town ripped out from under her to fulfil her parent’s idea of a dream.

Our time in Zancudo came at just the right time. How it happened and our time there reminded us not everything had to be planned and perfect. Its most important to embrace the adventure and have as much fun as we can. We’ve got better at living simply, taking moments as they happen and

being present in every experience, even if it’s not quite what we planned or expected. At first glance it may seem that a trip like this is all about the experiences that one has, like climbing ruins and meeting dolphins. As we progress I have realised it’s as much about the life lessons those experiences create for us, each and as a family.