The Gift of Adventure
"To live would be an awfully great adventure.”-Robin Williams as Peter Pan in Hook
I love adventure. I love exploring new things and new places. There is something about adventure that pushes me out of my comfort zone and shapes me in ways that are transformative. As we dreamed and prayed about the sabbatical over the past few years, one of our biggest dreams and desires was to go on an adventure as a family.
Kealy and I have had the privilege to travel to some pretty awesome places. We lived in China for 6 months after graduate school and have been to Israel, Europe, Thailand, Central America, the Caribbean and various parts of the U.S. All of these experiences have shaped who we are and how we see the world; as a place to be explored, not something to fear.
As we dreamed and planned for this sabbatical, we wanted to share our love of adventure with our kids. Our three older kids are at a great age for adventure. Annabelle and Levi are 11 and Avery is 9. They are resilient, adventurous, energetic and have the same love for adventure. We have done some traveling already with them in their young lives, but never outside the U.S. So, we were able to plan some of this sabbatical season in a foreign country.
We chose Costa Rica because everyone we had talked to who had been there has said what a beautiful and accessible country it is, and it didn’t disappoint. We wanted our kids to experience a different culture and language, but a place that wasn’t a long plane ride away or as cultural intense as some other places we’ve visited. With a generous grant for the Regional Conference our church is a part of, we were able to afford an amazing 3 weeks in Costa Rica.
During our 3 weeks in Costa Rica we were able to visit 4 primary locations. We rented a car, which gave us more mobility and options to explore.
Our first place we stayed was in the city of La Fortuna at the base of a volcano. Summer is actually the low season in Costa Rica (wisely called the ‘Green Season’ by marketers, which really means rainy season) so we got a great deal at an amazing resort called Los Lagos. The pools at Los Lagos are fed by Hot Springs from volcanic activity by the volcano. This was an incredible place to spend our first leg of the journey. The kids loved swimming in the pools, flying down the water slide and we were able to have some incredible adventures together.
We visited the rainforest the very first day of our time in La Fortuna, walking hanging bridges, seeing monkeys swimming from trees and even a pit-viper on the side of the path. Eek!
Two of our family highlights were ziplining in the rainforest and a rope swing at a local swimming hole.
While I’m a fan of more relaxing activities (I think I was the only one that really enjoyed the river ‘float’ where I added 20+ new birds to my lifelist), the kids were adrenaline junkies and we had a blast flying down the mountain rainforest at high speeds.
Usually the volcano is covered in clouds, but for two of the days we were there, it was crystal clear. A wonderful gift.
After fun days of adventuring we were able to return to the resort and our small casita. One of my favorite parts was sitting in a small hot springs pool next to Aloe plants, smelling the sweet smell of the plants, looking up at the stars and talking with the kids about all the amazing adventures we had that day.
In our second stay in the small town of Cahuita, the kids and Kealy got to have the amazing opportunity of riding horses on the beach and through the jungle. A once in a lifetime opportunity that they absolutely loved.
Finally, the kids got to experience surf lessons for the first time (and then the second time) in the Caribbean with an amazing and local surf guide named Billy. The warm water and calm waves made a great training ground for our 3 surfers and I was so impressed that they actually were surfing quickly into the lessons. Super fun!
It truly was a great adventure!