In about 11 days we’ll be flying to San Jose, Costa Rica. Joshua has several friends there, and they’ve been trying to get us to come and visit for years. Of course we are all looking forward to the warm weather and the hospitality, but apparently our idea of a great vacation is violating everyone else’s ideas of what we should do while we’re there. Because what we really want to do is hang out at the hotel pool, wander around San Jose, eat dinner with our friends and maybe, if it doesn’t mean too much hassle, take a day trip to see the Arenal volcano and the surrounding hot springs.
What? People look at us with shock (or gasp over the phone, or send emails written in ALL CAPITALS). But this is Costa Rica we’re talking about. You must see the beaches, experience the rain forest, go to the Mayan ruins, spend a night or two in the villas at Arenal. How can you go there and not expose your children to all those rich, one of a kind experiences?! Aren’t you all about learning through seeing the world? You’re staying in a Residence Inn, for god’s sake! That’s not experiencing Costa Rica!
But here’s the thing. Our whole family hates hectic. We despise rushing, and try to avoid getting up early unless it’s to catch a flight or get in our car to drive to Indiana. So one week in Costa Rica? Rather than spend every day in and out of the car, driving to a different ‘wonder’, we would all prefer to see a small slice at our leisure. I think San Jose looks charming. Yes, it’s a city. So what? I like cities. I’d rather say I spent the week exploring San Jose and come home feeling like I really know the place than just get snapshots of all the attractions.
Am I depriving my kids of potential learning experiences? Well, of a sort, I guess I am. But I think it’s a great and different type of experience to say “you know, after a few days in San Jose the guy at the coffee shop knew us by name.” Or “I liked that we saw the same people on the street each morning as we walked to….” I’ve never played the role of ‘tourist’ well, armed with a map and camera, determined to see every single ‘noteworthy’ thing in the space of a few short days. Luckily I have a family who agrees with me. I’m looking forward to the pool, and maid service, and dinner with friends. I’m looking forward to walking around a capitol city in another country where I don’t speak the language. I’m looking forward to the coffee. That’s enough.
I think it will be spectacular.