Thursday, January 23, 2014

Childlike Wonder in Costa Rica

At the end of last year, much of my extended family and I took a cruise. When you’re on a cruise, you can go it alone, do the cruise tours, or hire one of your own. We hired our own. Sixteen of us signed up with Your Lucky Tour in Puerto Limen, Costa Rica and went on their boat tour, zip line tour, and banana plantation tour. That was all in one day!  

Our easygoing Costa Rican guides joked around with us, showed us all the little things, and made a point to let our own group dynamics unfold naturally. Because, let’s face it, when you’re traveling with a big group of competitive people shit is bound to get weird. Who’ll eat the eyeball of a fried fish, who can zip line while quoting lines from South Park, who spots the most animals on their side of the boat—yeah, these people are weird and competitive. No one really cared about who spotted the monkeys or iguanas on their side of the boat, until one person put up the challenge. All of a sudden we’re all scouring the trees, high-fiving on our great finds, laughing and trash talking.

It was so much fun!

Nothing wrong with being a silly competitive child when you’re on vacation, because the rules are new too! Seeing monkeys and sloths in the wild is cool, but seeing a monkey or sloth in the wild on your winning side of the boat is freakin’ awesome. The great thing about the tour is that our guides got it. They understood that to us everything we saw was unusual. They might see sloths or mango trees in someone’s backyard a thousand times a day, but they still pointed them out to us. Along with coffee bean shrubs and banana trees. They fed the childish delight in us, the over-aware sense of a place that comes when you break free of your routine surroundings.

Traveling is like revisiting childhood wonder. Remember how easy it was to SEE everything when you were a child? It was all new, all deserving of your attention and appreciation. While traveling, I noticed red ants, giant precariously hanging beehives, and palm-sized spiders with blue legs, because these things were unusual to me. And a little scary.  But I noticed things that weren’t scary too. That's because even though I’ve seen a million KFCs, I’ve never seen a live chicken running around in the parking lot of a KFC! Or, at least, I hadn’t. It was so great to have tour guides who got that, who fed that need to experience the new, and who had genuine fun showing us around.

One of our tour guides, Eduardo, was even kind enough to take us to his home and show us his artwork. He’s an amazing artist!

Traveling is precious not just because you have time off to be with your family, but because it takes no effort whatsoever to be in the moment. The moment is alive and thrumming all around you. So thanks, Eduardo, Cooper, and the entire crew for letting us be silly and competitive and curious, and for helping us play in your part of the world! 


  1. Awesome! Now I remember you saying something about a Christmas-time cruise. So fabulous.

    1. Thanks, Terri-Lynne! I'm looking forward to my working-vacation with you and all the gals at VAB!