As quickly as we could wrap up Christmas and pack our bags, we were in the car headed out of town for our Howe Family Costa Rica Christmas.
We left for Houston the morning of the 26th and spent the night at Bart and Olivia's house. Our flight for Costa Rica was out of Houston on the 27th. The only thing that went awry with our whole trip really was that I started feeling sick on the way down to Houston.
That is classic for me.
I get sick everytime I let down my guard and just relax. It's like I was so high strung and focused on getting through Christmas that the very day after my body just shut down. I've got to get over that. It's one of my 2014 goals. Anyway, by the next morning (2 hours before we were supposed to be at the airport for our international flight) I was feeling horrible.
I laid in bed hardly breathing and could not swallow all night. I just waited until I heard my dad stirring, because he is usually up first, and I immediately told him we needed to find a 24 hour ER and get something, quick. I was certain I had strep throat. Just by the look and feel of it. Praise the Lord, there was an ER 2 miles away and because we stressed the urgency of needing to leave the country quick, they got me right in and seen and did a strep test (confirmed the diagnosis) and a penicillin shot, a steroid shot, and a dose of motrin later, we were on our way to the airport.
It was a crazy morning.
We got a few additional adult and child anti-biotic prescriptions filled at a Walgreens right by the airport, just in case any one else caught it while we were out of the country. It was crazy...but, we made it. And praise the Lord that no one else caught it. Just a couple short days later, I was feeling much better...and thank goodness I could fully relax with my family and enjoy this!
We spent our trip in the beachy, surf town of Tamarindo.
I have never been to Costa Rica before and I totally fell in love with this city. It is gorgeous. You are in the jungle and on the beach at the same time. The sand is so soft. The trees are everywhere. The weather was awesome. The food was fantastic. And the culture and vibe of the town was so, so relaxed.
The first night we got there, we walked from our house to a local pizza place for dinner. It was delicious and was such a relaxing dinner. There were slides and hammock swings and sand for the kids to play in.
They were in heaven.
Since it was Bart's birthday that day we went to walk around the town and get some ice cream and made him pose like statues.
Happy Birthday Bart.
Our first full day we just took in our surroundings and spent time at the beach and just walking to and from our house to town. Our house was about a 5 minute walk up and down a dirt road through the town to the beach. We walked this route multiple times a day and I loved it. Thank goodness we brought our stroller. We could not have done without it.
Matt's girlfriend, Jessica, joined us that day and we all had an amazing dinner on the beach complete with lots of sand to play in, delicious food, and a fire show!
Most days and evenings Kinley was glued to Olivia's side. She wanted to sit by her at dinner every night.
The next day we had scheduled a pick up to go surfing. We got off to a pretty late start with the driver not arriving on time and we could tell immediately this was not going to be your average surf lesson. We were clearly just being picked up by locals, driven to the local beach and going to learn to surf on their boards. There were lots of other surf shops and group lessons in town where you get brand new surf boards and pick out your rash guard shirt off hangers and all match each other. Within 5 minutes Jessica said "my biggest fear is that we have to wear nasty shirts to surf in"...well, that was a fear realized. When we arrived at the locals beach we went to the trunk of the car and just grabbed ratty, old piled up surf shirts and handed them out. Jessica quickly realized the shirt she was given would not even cover her stomach...which is the whole point.
Thankfully, Olivia traded with her and we were good to go. We could not stop laughing. It was hilarious. This is what you look like when you surf with locals.
Overall, the experience was fantastic. We loved our instructor once we got in the water...he maybe did disappear multiple times throughout our lesson to the beach to visit with some of his buddies and such. But, our lesson lasted way longer than it should have and we all surfed until we were exhausted and everyone got up!
We relaxed on the beach a little more that afternoon and I had my first fresh coconut on the beach. I was so, so surprised how much I LOVED these fresh coconuts. I don't like anything with coconut flavoring. But, they were delicious and refreshing and I had to have one everyday while we were there.
Most days we walked home for Ty's naptime. He was so exhausted that multiple times
During naptime we would rest, read or lay out by the pool at the house. One day there was an intense game of Marco Polo between Kinley, Matt, Bart and Olivia. I can't say it enough. My kids have the BEST Aunts and Uncles ever!
The next day we had another excursion planned to go ziplining! We had to drive a little further into the jungle and the very first thing we saw when we arrived was a tree full of monkeys eating lunch. I was so, so sad my kids were not with me at this point. They had been searching and searching for monkeys in the trees and I just took as many pics and videos as I could to show them.
Then we got on our gear and got ready to zipline. Our instructors were fantastic and so.much.fun. They made us feel so safe and comfortable and helped us all try new things or go upside down or strapped to someone else. It was awesome. I never dreamed in my life that ziplining would be something my kids could do but, we ended up with a 3 and a 5 year old in our group and I was sick I didn't at least bring Kinley.
Group selfie in the trees! (minus Matt...sorry!)
On the last line Ben and I got to go together and it was so fun. I took my own video with my phone and showed it to all the kids and it was sooooo cool.
The next day was new year's eve. Apparently, the entire country of Costa Rica shuts down during the last 2 weeks of the year...and they all vacation to the beach. There were TONS of locals in town for new years. There were multiple HUGE parties on the beach each day with inflatables and music so loud you could hear it for miles and concerts on the beach and just thousands of people. It was a cool sight to see. Ty spent most of his beach time in just a diaper. He would have prefered totally nude though. Next year I am getting him a speedo for sure.
This is more like it :) Oh nakey baby bottom. I just love it. You could get snowcones from carts on the beach and my kids loved it and insisted on it each day. This pair...stuck like glue :)
Girls! Walking around town...how could you ever get sick of this sight!? We wanted to spend the majority of new years eve on the beach. We started the day in our matching Costa Rica tanks I made. Ben and I worked together on the design and the tanks are american apparel and so soft. The execution was not great but, it was still fun to all match. We took a TON of pics. Brother/Sister pics...
There was this amazing fresh water river that runs from the jungle into the salt water ocean that we could walk down to. I have never seen anything like it and it was so cool. Beach selfie! (Matt made this one!)
Exploring! We stayed on the beach until sunset which mean we stayed through rest and naptime. But, one of my favorite things was to rest in a hammock with my kiddos. I will never forget this. For a while it was just me and Ty and he just sat and we cuddled. We talked and I asked him questions and he answered and we just looked around at all the trees and boats and ocean and it was so, so fun. And then Kinley joined too and it was heaven on earth.
The beach party was already getting going at sunset.... Mom had brought lots of Party City stuff to decorate our house for New Years Eve. Kinley loved decorating and party prepping even on vacation. Everyone had fun sporting the décor. For dinner we ordered pizza and watched the Aggies win a bowl game. It was super fun watching it in Spanish. We had no idea what the announcers were saying. And it said En Vivo on the screen instead of 'Live' and they came back to win it. It was so fun.
Ty was practicing his Gig Em. Then we celebrated the new year with the kids at 9:00. After the kids went to bed, we went down to the beach for midnight. I wasn't interested or planning on going (because I am so old and boring) but my parents insisted they would stay with the kids and Bart, Olivia, Matt and Jessica wanted us to come with them. I have to say...I am SOOOO glad we went. It was a New Year's Eve I will NEVER forget. It was awesome. There were probably 50,000 people on the small stretch of beach. There were bonfires and fireworks and fire lanterns going off everywhere. It was the coolest thing. I took videos and pics for Kinley, because I really felt like I was in the movie Tangled. It was awesome. It was pitch dark other than that and we were all holding on to each other walking through tons of people so we wouldn't get lost. It was pretty amazing.
I feel like this is when I really understood Pura Vida. Pura vida is very common Costa Rican phrase. It literally means "pure life" but, Ben and I looked it up on Wikipedia and it is more commonly used as meaning "plenty of life", "full of life" or "this is living!"
Ben and I went home pretty much right after midnight because we are old and boring. But, on our way home there was already a huge party in the street starting. I have never seen anything like it. New Years day was our last day there and we started the day with in-house massages. They were fantastic. I think we should start every new years that way...and then more beach time. Along with these awesome koozies... Mom and Dad got the boys these matching speedos in their stockings for Christmas. Even though they totally wimped out and didn't wear them down to the beach...they did tan some serious man-thigh at the house. (sorry for posting boys...but, yall look so good in these!) By this time Kinley was glued to Jessica and Olivia. She couldn't get enough. They were SO sweet to her and at the end of the trip when they were trying to get rid of their local currency they pooled together and bought her a bracelet from a lady on the beach.
How sweet is that!? Love these boys... Overall, it was the most fun and relaxing trip we have had in a LONG time. I loved every single second of it. I loved getting to spend quality one on one time with every single person and would go back in a heart beat. On the way home we all said "let's do it again next weekend!"
Oh, how I wish.