Monday, December 15, 2014

Bucket List Item: Introducing Baby to Costa Rica


Last month, my family ventured to Costa Rica for our first international family vacation. Flying was surprisingly easy, as I discussed in my last post (which was about a month ago - I have been very neglectful of this poor little blog!).  The rest of the trip was just as stress-free, for the most part. We LOVED introducing our beloved Costa Rica to our 10-month-old babe, Avy!

Our first international family vacation was a success - look at that happy baby!

Because we had Avy with us, there wasn't a lot of sightseeing, eco-adventures, or excursions occurring. We did drive up to Monteverde to hike through the rainforest at Selvatura and learned about coffee growing and roasting at a true-blue coffee farm and mill, but that trip was only three days of our two week vacation. (I will, of course, be writing about those experiences down the road, and hopefully not a month from now!)

For the rest of the time, we relaxed, spent time as a family, swam in the pool, and visited the beaches at Carillo and Samara.  That was about it, and it was glorious. It was a complete break from my usual style of travel, which is go-go-go, but with a wee baby change is to be expected.

Here are the highlights of this particular travel bucket list item:

1. Introducing our baby to the ocean


She was not a fan. Not at all. The waves freaked her out, the sun was pretty hot and made her cranky, and we didn't like that she tried to eat all the sand and debris that washed up from the tide onto it. I am not implying Playa Carrillo is littered - in fact, it is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, in my opinion.  Pictures and video cannot do that beach justice, as it is pristine and peaceful. But it is a beach just like any other, and chunks of driftwood, seaweed, and other assortments of ocean paraphernalia do find their way onto the sand after high tide.

Playa Carrillo is arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

We did have a fun day at the beach once we struck a balance - Avy was situated on a beach towel under the shade of a palm tree, with a pile of 'cleaned up' sand for her to spread all over herself.  My hubby and I took turns splashing in the waves, and once Avy was far enough away from the crash of the ocean she liked to watch the water, pointing to the waves and narrating her thoughts.

Our babe experiencing the ocean for the very first time.

We did manage to get her to swim for a little bit in the water, which made for some beautiful photographs (in which she looks like she's enjoying herself, but I know the truth). Next time, she'll be a little fish I'm sure.

2. Strolling the streets of Samara


Samara is a touristy surfing village near our home in Guanacaste. It isn't as touristy as Tamarindo, but it definitely lacks the 'locals only' vibe that Carrillo has. Still, I like walking its streets and dining at the cute restaurants that line its beautiful white sand beach. There is an atmosphere to the town that makes you feel hip and cool, even when you are pushing a stroller and have never stood on a surfboard in your life.

Strolling the streets of Samara in Costa Rica.

The beach in Samara is very nice, but I think it pales in comparison to Playa Carrillo. This is mainly because it is very populated - there have to be about seven surf schools in town and a TON of hostels and hotels - and also there is a coral reef some ways out into the water, which leaves sharp little pieces of coral embedded in the sand, just waiting to slice your feet. Carrillo has neither. But Samara Beach is still beautiful, as most Costa Rican beaches are, and worth a visit!

The beach at Samara, Costa Rica.

To Avy's delight, we even encountered a group of about 10 monkeys eating fruit in the trees above a section of the beach. Monkeys are currently her favorite animal, so we thought it was neat that she was able to see them for real, and not in a zoo setting.

Monkeys enjoying their day at Playa Samara.

3. Swimming in the pool at Grandpa and Grandma's house


And this is how we spent the majority of each day. Avy loves the water (except, ahem, not ocean water apparently) and so the pool was a huge hit. Grandma joined us often, although unfortunately Grandpa had an injury at the time that prevented him from coming in for a dip.

Avy Bear and her daddy enjoying a beautiful morning swim in our pool in Costa Rica.

The pool is so beautifully landscaped that you feel you are in paradise while swimming. Palm trees, ginger plants, colorful flowers, and primly trimmed hedges line the pool's edge, hosting several birds and animals such as parrots, squirrels, hummingbirds, and butterflies. We swam several times a day: morning swims, afternoon swims, and the occasional night swim to cool down before bed. It was perfect.

The landscaping is unreal - that's magazine quality gardening right there!

There wasn't much more to our vacation, other than the side trip I mentioned above, which will be featured in a series of posts later on. It was the first time I'd personally been on a vacation where I really did just relax. No agendas, no itineraries, no pre-planned potential blog posts to check off. It was nice to just spend time with my family.  HOWEVER, next time we go, I have a huge list of family-friendly adventures that we will experience - I haven't completely changed!!