Master Trooper

I’ve been jotting down things about our CR trip at the speed of lightning, lest I forget. In the midst of chronicling all those great adventures, I’ve forgotten to pen down one very important thing—our son. He was the best trooper amongst the three of us. His spirit for adventure has left us baffled. He definitely is way fitter than both his parents put together. He did better than his parents at the hikes, at the beach, and at the rainforest. This, for someone who is 2.

Achy, painful, tight, tingly muscles are familiar terms for anyone whose attempted anything remotely close to a fitness regimen. Well, that’s how it was after day one in CR. Mighty Joes embarked on the La Fortuna Cascada one afternoon—840 steep steps up and down. When we reached the entrance to the waterfall and took the first few steps, there were people walking back up panting the life out of themselves. Each one of them patted us on our backs and said, “All the best for the climb back up. You’ll take twice as long as any of us.” Up until then, we were pretty sure we could do it. But when a wave of sympathy washes over you, you begin to hunker. After taking the first few steps, I asked Vinod if we were doing the right thing since the incline was freakishly steep. Vinod checked with junior and he said, “let’s go for it guys.” I remember how wobbly my knees felt. Vinod carried Neil all the way down since the incline was way too steep for Neil to even attempt it. Once we reached the base of the waterfall, it didn’t seem quite that bad. It was heavenly to say the least. The water was chilly; perfect to soothe aches and jitters away. Our earth child of course couldn’t get enough of it. There was mud, water, and an insane amount of fish that wouldn’t budge no matter who got into the water. Not many times in life have I had the opportunity to hike down in a bathing suit and jump right into resplendence. This was one of those rare moments where we got to experience nature, naturally! The task of getting back up still remained.

Reluctantly, we left and began our ascent. Foot traffic was slow, so there was no added pressure from behind to keep up the pace. Even if we took turns and crawled on all fours, there was no way we could’ve have carried our trooper. We’d definitely have been toast.

Slowly we made progress. Goldfish, dried figs, water, and granola bars kept us company on our way up. We’d walk some, then stop so junior could munch, glug, dig, and squeal with delight at the million different sights and sounds that passed him by. 1/4th of the distance accomplished at relatively good speed and time. Neil was a blast though. He kept singing songs, leaning against Vinod and climbing up. A ranger, a few families, and a couple passed by panting, and couldn’t stop smiling at Elvis! We finally did manage to finish those last few steps and champion goes, “We did it!” The appropriate thing for us to have said at the end of the whole adventure was “You did it!” Hip, Hip, Hooray!

“There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again.” Elizabeth Lawrence

Travel itinerary when traveling with kids to Costa Rica

Hubby and I love travel. After having Neil, however, the frequency came down. We missed it immensely though. We kept our travels to local destinations. After year one, the travel bug came back with a big bite. So we decided to get back on the international route. We first experimented with the Bahamas. That turned out alright. The following year, we decided we could do CR. Here’s the itinerary for anyone interested in traveling to Costa Rica with kids.

It is doable, and it is fun. We did this vacation with kids aged 18 months, 2 1/2 years, and 4 years. It did require a month’s planning; late nights; several calls to transportation agencies, customer service representatives, hotels, and tour guides. We traveled from mainland U.S to CR. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to email me.

Day What Time Activity
Sunday Drive to La Fortuna from San Jose
(Total drive time 3 hrs.)
10:30 A.M 12:30 lunch on the way
4:00 PM cab to downtown La Fortuna
Monday 11:00 AM La Fortuna Waterfall 4:00 PM Volcano hike until 6:30 PM Dinner and hot springs
Tuesday Taxi-boat-taxi to Monteverde from La Fortuna
boat ride of 45 mins. then a cab drive for 2.45 hrs.
Leave hotel at 9:30 A.M 2:00 PM lunch
4:00 PM cab to Selvatura butterfly and humming-bird garden
Wednesday Sky tram, trek, and zip lining Taxi pickup at 8:45 AM for a 9:30 batch Sky trek through the rainforest til 11:30 AM
Zip lining for adults until 2:00 PM
Thursday Transfer to Playa Carrillo 9:30 AM leave the hotel Drive, through some crazy mountain roads to cover 300 kms. from Verde to Carrillo
Friday Laze on the beach End lessly
Saturday Late check-out to San Jose 2:00 PM 4 hr. drive to San Jose
Sunday Cab to San Jose airport 10:00 AM

I must also mention the bounty of good food we enjoyed on this vacation. Here’s a list of hotels and restaurants which we absolutely loved.

San Jose
Adventure Inn: An absolutely delectable spread of fresh fruits, freshly squeezed fruit juices, Ala cart menu along with a buffet! Whatever you do, do not forget to savor the rich, deep, dark and robust Costa Rican coffee.
Our last morning out of Costa Rica was at the H.Trapp Country Family Inn. The owners are descendants of Maria and Capt. Von Trapp. Yes! The Sound of Music family.
Not overwhelming portions. The restaurant is situated among lemon, mango and various other fruit trees. The giant banyan tree adds so much life to this quiet place. The river rushes past this property in such hurry that you will go looking for it. Its constant gurgling is absolutely beautiful.

La Fortuna
It was disappointing in terms of local restaurants. The cab drivers took us to touristy, catering to the American palette restaurants.
La Choza de Laurel: Very touristy. Great drinks, but food is asi-asi.
Las Brasitas: Very touristy. The cuisine is Mexican.
Arenal Manoa Resort: Great views of the volcano. Food is fresh and varied. Great restaurant and helpful staff.

Monteverde
A gastronome haven. Every restaurant we visited was simplistic in design, yet very elegant and sophisticated. The architecture, seating, lighting, ambiance, furniture, and food were orchestrated to offer the perfect dining experience.
Chimera: A Latin infused tapas restaurant had the best tapas I’ve ever tasted in my life.
Hotel Sofia: The portions were small, but the restaurant and the food presentation was spectacular. The service was a bit slow though.
Whole Fish Fry, Montemar: This was hands down the best tasting food through the entire trip. This will be a post by itself. It is hard to find, since it is a seafood sales store. So not many people know it as a restaurant.
Jimenez Bakery: It served as our point for breakfast on the go. Freshly made breads, doughnuts, coffee and the like.

Playa Carrillo
This town is cut off from the main city. It is tucked away in a world of its own. The only restaurant we dined at was Leyenda’s restaurant. Perfect portions, served with the freshest produce. Their presentation of food was simply extraordinary.