Heaven on Earth

There are many cliche things I could say about the last few weeks. Paradise found, la vida dulce, heaven on Earth… Ever since we crossed over to the Pacific coast of Central America we have been stunned by the natural beauty around us. Each destination has taken our breath away, and every new place has been a little better than the last.

Our first west coast stop was Manuel Antonio National park, a place where the jungle truly meets the sea and the monkeys come down to play on the beach. White sand, orange and purple sunsets, and frosty margaritas. Need I say more? Actually, the best thing here was the park, a protected national jungle just small enough to be explored by a family with a baby in one long day, with a break for naps. On our morning hike we went of the main trail to find a small beach covered with tiny black crabs and iguanas. We dodged big blue and yellow butterflies as we listened to the howler monkeys in the trees above us. After the heat of the day subsided, we returned to explore the beachside trails and ran into sloths, deer, raccoons and finally these sweet, white faced monkeys! Sadie was so super excited about the playful little critters, and was a trooper in her koko pax backpack carrier all day. We invented Cheerios on a straw, a portable snack that kept everybody happy on the trails.

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on a sad note, we unfortunately left Dave’s ukulele on the bus to Manuel, and after a few fruitless phone calls we had to accept that it was gone for good. We are hoping it finds it’s way into good hands, and perhaps someone will discover a love of music and some inspiration from our loss.

After the park we left for Montezuma, on the Nicoya peninsula. in order to bypass two long bus rides and a ferry, we jumped on a speedboat that rushes 20 or so people at a time across the gulf in an hour. We had Sadie strapped in to an inflatable life vest, but before we were 100 yards off shore she was fast asleep in my arms. Any sort of noisy or bumpy travel puts this baby straight to sleep, which is just fine by us! The boat delivered us to the sandy shore of the cutest little Rastafarian village, a tourist oasis of bar and restaurant lined streets with cheap accommodations, craft goods, grocery marts and a beautiful waterfall just a short 20 min hike away. Dave and I took turns going up to the falls because the trail was just a touch too rough to carry the baby. We spent 3 lovely days there and had such a good time that we forgot to take pictures, except for some adorable ones of Sadie on the beach, of course.

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Montezuma was one of many places that we could have seen ourselves staying for more than a week, a month, a year… Central America has a powerful pull and an untamed quality, mixed with a laid back simple life style and a general sense of happiness. It would be easy to loose track of time and spend a lifetime on the sandy shores of the Nicoya peninsula.

We did a drive by in a town called Santa Theresa. Great for surfers, not so wonderful for families with its dusty roads and shadeless beaches. Which was a good thing because it got us on the road to our favorite spot yet, a place that is barely a blip on the tourist trail, a great little town called Samara.

Oh, Samara… From the moment we stepped off the bus and saw the wide, long beautiful beach we knew we had found our paradise. A sweet town, not too small and not too big. Friendly people everywhere and a beach teeming with families with young children. Our second day in Samara we spent hours seeking a long term rental in our budget, but in the middle of high season our efforts were fruitless. Samara is the kind of town that people from all over the world come to stay for a month or three to really unwind. We did find ourselves in the cutest, cleanest and most comfortable small hostel we could have hoped for, and got to meet many fun and interesting characters passing through. We booked in for eight nights, and spent our time digging holes in the sand on the beach and cooking with loads of the freshest, cheapest and most delicious produce I have ever seen.

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We were sad to leave Samara, but we know without a doubt we will come back here one day, and be one of those families we met that spend months together enjoying the sun, fresh air and charming atmosphere of this beautiful corner of the earth.

As an aside, we learned while we were here that the area around Samara is one of five designated “blue zones,”  where researchers have discovered the population has a significantly longer life span than the rest of the world. Once you have been here you can understand why.

We would love to live to 110 here, but our budget is dwindling… So we are heading north to the much cheaper land of Nicaragua. Adios!

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