Speed in the Jungle

During our adventures to Costa Rica back in 2008, we visited a fantastic place called the Buena Vista Lodge.  I’ll tell you more about in another blog.

The main reason for this short post is simply because we just saw a travel program who shared some clips from the amazing (and ridiculously dangerous) water slide that cut through the jungle.  Apparently it’s one of the longest outdoor water slides and it spans an amazing 400+ meters – which in US terms is around 1200 feet +/-.  Just imagine riding a water slide the same length as the Empire State building!

Here’s a little teaser for what the slide looks like.  The entire family tried the slide, which  in hind side was an incredible stupid idea, but we were told by many people at the hotel and the lodge that it was perfectly safe … even for the kids.  BUT, it’s not!

You can reach speeds of up 40mph.  There are no side guards to prevent you go over the side of the slide.  You have to keep arms tight to the body – prepare for the cold water as they open the hatch to start the ride – oh, and prepare to scream, not matter if you want to or not!

Living la vida loca, Costa Rica part 3

So, we had arrived in Costa Rica, checked into the resort and settled in in our hacienda.  Well, the “little” hacienda was in fact the same size as a terraced 2 bedroom house in Ireland, but decorated with marble tiles and in a nice neighbourhood.  It had two queen size beds, which were quickly occupied by the kids in one and my wife in the other, leaving me with a 2-seater sofa.  Furthermore, it had a small 40″ flatscreen TV, small kitchen, dining area, living room and of course a huge bathroom.  We even had our own porch, overlooking a lake with an abundance of wild life; caymans, parrots, monkeys, etc.

One important thing to mention.  This was an all inclusive resort, which included mini bar and room service, 24/7.  We were spoiled rotten in this resort and we loved it.  It even had WIFI broadband included.  The entire resort was serviced by oversized golfcarts, which acted like a small bus service.

Like so many resorts in Central America, it included evening shows.  Most of these shows were corny, but excellent for families. They started at 19.00 (7 pm) and they had loads of interaction with kids.  In fact, the first hour was a kids show and all kids were invited onto stage to participate.  The show was hosted by the same three girls that looked after the kids club, so my son was  delighted to climb onto the stage.

As soon as the music started, our son would entertain the entire audience, with the moonwalk, booty shake, robot, worm and the classic metal headbangs.  The crowd were loving it and so was he.  However, the other kids weren’t too impressed, as he was dancing throughout their competition, completely ignoring to participate in musical chairs.  The longest marathon dance he did was over 3 minutes long- non-stop.  He was later known as the human dance machine.

Most activities took place during the day and roasting the bacon (on the sunbed or swimming pool) won the popularity contest by rated and attended.  We probably spent the majority of days next to or in the pool.  Our son was still wearing diapers, so as soon as his bum hit the water the diaper expanded like an air mattress.  This was obviosuly caused by the water being sucked into the diaper. Some diapers can contain a lot of water.  So, with the amount of extra weight on his bum, he had no problems standing up in the water – the only problems were that the diaper emptied the paddling pool, as all the water was now contained in his diaper. The second problem was that he brought all the water with him when he exited the pool, flooding the sunbed area.

This was also the year my daughter got interested in golf – at least for the duration of our holidays.  We hired a golf buggy and took a guided tour around the golf course to see the animal life.  Because all the monkeys were hiding on the top tree branches, all we saw was pink monkey bums.  Not the best angle to look at monkeys.  Our guide was the resident golf pro. He persuaded us to send our daughter to a 90 minute kids training session.  We tend to get somewhat enthusiastic when our kids try new stuff, and we want to make sure they have the right gear, so we bought her a golf glove, hat and almost bought her golf clubs as well (We got those when we returned..).
I went with her for the session, but the instructor asked me quickly to leave as I was disrupting the training – probably because I was lying on the grass next to her, trying to take pictures and shouted “action” to get some proper family video footage.  I was so proud of my daugther, as she was digging a new bunker on the landscaped golf course.  It didn’t matter that she took 40 strokes to get on the green and then picked up her ball. The important thing was that she had fun.

Wildlife in the resort was amazing, especially the amount of iguanas next to our hacienda.  Several of these were vicious creatures and they wanted to fight me whenever they had the opportunity.  They would hide under the palmbush, wait for my family to pass and then they would charge towards me.  I would of course run screaming away, pushing my kids between me and the attacker and jump onto the porch.  Let me also clarify that it did not work blowing cigratte smoke on them!
One particular iguana was the size of our labrador and I quickly named him (or her – it’s difficult to tell gender on an animal that you are trying to escape from!) Godzilla.  I swear, that creature was a re-incarnated demon, at least towards me.  When we left the resort, heading home, the friendly bellboy told me that iguanas are actually vegetarians!

What else was available in the resort beside the restaurants, water sport activities, pool, bars and music?  Well, my wife loves shopping and they had a few souvenir shops in the resort.  One day, when the rain came down in buckets, we spent an hour in a 4 x 4 foot souvenir shop, buying local arts and crafts.  I picked a nice hand drawn picture, but we couldn’t carry it for all the other stuff my wife and kids bought, so I had to leave my picture behind.

The weirdest thing we did while in Costa Rica, was pretending it was our kids birthdays, just so they could get a party at the kids club.  My wife informed the staff that our son just had his birthday and our daughter would have hers a couple of weeks after we return home…honestly, their birthdays were months ago!  But, that’s beside the point, the main thing is that our kids enjoyed themselves, and they did.  The kids club organised parties for them, with cakes and games.

We also went on a river cruise to see the rainforest.  These excursion are normally start early 06.00 (am) and return early afternoon, lunch included.  One thing you learn as a parent is to pack a survival kit containing; changing clothes, diapers, wipes, juices, snacks, sun lotion and toys. It is normally me who has to carry this.  Just to explain something else, I’m Scandinavian and I’m NOT build for excruciating heat. I will sweat so much that I could provide a small village with their water supply.  After two days, I would be red as a lobster and other tourists would point at me, but that’s probably because I only get tanned on the upper part of my stomach, and the lower part doesn’t because it is always in the shade!!  I always buy, what I at that moment think looks cool, a straw hat shaped like a cowboy hat.  This just make me stand out even more, but it actually cools off my head.

The river cruise was a small 30 seater long river boat, with a guide.  The first crocodile we saw was exciting, but when we had seen 50-60 crocodiles, then novelty wore off.  However, it was an amazing tour, seeing all the animals. Just going through the rainforest itself was surreal.  As we were heading back, my daughter whispered that she had to pee.  There were no toilets on the river boat, but it had smooth fiberglass floor.  We slowly moved to the back of the boat, she took off her bathing suit (the only clothes kids wear on holidays) and peed on the floor.  As the boat turned, the pee quickly rolled over my feet and headed towards the passengers at the front.  But, it was slowly mixing with the other water in the boat, so no-one would notice – except my sandals.  It’s amazing how much pee can smell when it gets really warm!

Back at the shore, my son had to be changed, after having done 1 and 2.  There are NO, I mean NO, baby changing facilities in the jungle, so I had to take off his pants, put him on a bench beside the outdoor restaurant and change him.  Where did I put the diaper?  Well, the friendly staff just took it and threw it out.  I was more embarresed than anybody, but nobody really minded – or at least they pretended well.

The second trip was to the local volcano – an active volcano!  Here we had the opportunity to walk in the canopies, slide across the treetops on a wire and absail down the tree.  What was even more fun was that we were bringing our kids who were 3 and 4 years old.
As you might remember, my wife is afraid of heights, but she had spoken at length with the guides and they said it was perfectly safe and it was only 1 wire we had to slide across.
We walked 0.5 mile into the jungle, higher and higher up the mountain, and finally made it to the first tree.  I had lost 5 kgs of water, just by carrying my son up the narrow jungle path. Both of us were fully geared up with harness, helmet and boots.  At the sight of the wire and tree, my wife almost fainted.  Her teeth were deep embedded into the tree, as the instructor was trying to wrestle her free off the tree.  There were barely any space for us to stand on. There were only a few planks to stand on, and we were 15 adults and four kids! After sliding across the first time, we found out there were not just 1 wire to cross, but 10 wires in total. Each approx. 40-50 long, 25 meters above the ground.  And what was even worse, there were no way either of us could hold a child too.  So, the instructors looked after the kids, sliding across with them and then we would join them.  My daughter was the first across, then my wife, me and then my son.  At the end, my daughter was giving everybody high fives, as they crossed.  My wife’s clothes were completely soaked of sweat, and probably pee, all caused by pure fear.  But, she did it.

Then, we decided to try the longest water slide in America, South, Central and North – I think it was over 0.5 mile long.  The walk to the top caused me to loose another 3kg again because I was carrying my son on my shoulders up the mountain, sweating profoundly and creating puddles.  I was sliding down with our son and my wife sliding down with our daughter.  They used inflated tractor tire tubes as transportation!  They used natural water, from the river, (freezing cold) as lubricant, and this worked a treat.  They said you had three speeds; fast, faster or super fast.  We chose fast only.  My son screamed and cried of fear for the duration of the slide, but I could not just stop and get out.  We were going at least 30mph (or at least very fast).  It didn’t make it any better that when you get to the bottom, you drop into an ice cold pool of water. We both went under.  All the women rushed to my son’s aid and to comfort him, and they all gave my stares that could kill.  Nobody helped me out.

To finish off the volcano visit, we went to the natural hot springs.  This was absolutely fantastic.  My wife and daughter went by horse through the jungle, crossing rivers, but my son and I took the tractor instead.  I didn’t think he would be ready for another wild adventure, minutes after his water slide trauma.  So, we enjoyed a couple of hours in nice hot springs, simply relaxing.
On the way home in the bus, our son poohed, sharing the aroma with our fellow passengers until we reached the bus depot.  They only had to suffer for 30 minutes. It could have been a lot worse, right?

A few days later we had to pack and return back to Ireland.  All in all, we had a brilliant trip to Costa Rica.  Special thanks to my wonderful wife, who organised another perfect holiday for the family.

For further information on Costa Rica, please read these blogs too.
Pura Vida
Born Survivor

Born Survivor – Costa Rica part 2

As the previous blog stated, my dear wife had persuaded me to go to Costa Rica with her and the kids, for two weeks, while she completed her thesis for her Master’s Degree.  It took almost 3 seconds (see next paragraph) for me to accept the offer, even if I had managed to insult her entire family at a family dinner three months earlier by swearing and saying that we could not afford going to Costa Rica.

But, my wife has magic powers, something she inherited from her Maya ancestors, and stared at me for just 3 seconds with her huge brown begging eyes.  I stood firm and replied in a firm tone…”ABSOLUTELY!!!”.  Two weeks in a tropical paradise, with all inclusive… JACKPOT …laughing and smiling, as if I had won the lottery.  I must have looked a bit silly in front of her family, as I was doing the macarena victory dance, with no music, celebrating us going on holidays.

She organised the trip, as she always does, and we headed off towards the far shores of Jurassic Park territory, having a blast.

Believe it or not, it is tough being a house bound father looking after the kids, while your wife is working.  Surviving two weeks in this living paradise would be a challenge that only few of us men could survive.  Imagine, waking up around 08.00 (am) every morning, getting the kids ready for the enormous breakfast buffet jungle, with lurching female predators waiting for my son and then a trip to the local swimming pool with my daughter who was turning into Ariel from the Little Mermaid, refusing to leave the water – even when bribing her with make-up, Disney dresses and a horse.  Somebody had to do it, so I sacrificed myself, so my wife could complete her degree.  That’s the type of guy I am.

Costa Rica is a VERY beautiful country, but it is at the same time very poor.  Well, it is like most Central American countries, where the poor are really poor, living in shacks, and the rich are filthy stinky rich, driving huge Hummers with tinted windows, and live in huge mansions surrounded by fences and they have guards.

We were on the West coast of Costa Rica, and my wife had to work with a local charity organisation and its main objective is to improve the empower poor children, adolescents and women in Costa Rica by promoting cultural development, educational and labour opportunities, physical and mental health, as well as social cohesion and participation.

My wife’s reasearch was mainly focussing on how women were empowered, if they were given any  opportunities to be heard and what support they received.  She had to work closely with a local charity organisation during her stay in Costa Rica, which of course meant leaving the comfort of the luxury resort (alone) and visit local communities.

Now, my wife is not the Lara Croft or outdoor type, so this was a huge step for her. Neither of us knew what was waiting.  All she knew was that she would have to visit women in poorer communities, together with the organisation representative of course, and interview women to get an insight into their World.

The first day she ventured out, at 08.00 (am), she was dressed nicely; skirt, shirt and sandals.  And, not to forget the most import accessories; Dolce Gabbana sunglasses and her Mac Air for taking notes.  This was probably not the most appropriate dress and accessories for visiting these areas.  Anyway, off she went, full of energy and scared shitless.

Meanwhile, I had the challenge of entertaining the kids the entire day.  I had no idea when my wife would be returning and our mobile phones didn’t work in this part of the World – despite my mobile phone carrier in Ireland ensuring me that my mobile was quad-band = works all over the fecking World, except Costa Rica!  So, we had no way of contacting each other and I had no idea where she went.  We were grown ups and we only cried in the comfort of each others arms for less than 40 minutes, as if we were departing each other forever.

So, the kids were staring at me, demanding to be entertained, hence we visited one of the main morning attractions: the breakfast buffet.  It was amazing how much time one can spend at the breakfast buffet not eating.  I think I spent more time running to and from the food and our table, to please the kids, as they were all of a sudden very picky.  Fruits, pancakes, eggs, bread, cereal, sausages. We tried everything.  Either that, or they were just pulling my leg.  Finally, one of Christian’s many in-country girlfriends arrived and chatted with him, and then he started to eat as if to impress her.

After that, we dragged our “tired” bodies to the nearest sunbed, dropped the towels and jumped into the swimming pool.  We were on holidays, enjoying every minute, so the three of us made our way to the pool bar, in the swimming pool of course.  Man, it was a stressful morning, so I had my Mojito to relax.

Our son has rhythm and quickly started to show off his moves, dancing to the tunes of the local band and entertaining the other tourists by the pool.  He was lifting his arms, shaking the booty and clapping along.  This earned him applauds and admiration from his groupies.  This was starting to worry me, so I dragged him screaming back to the sunbeds, to work on our tans.

We were stuck in paradise!

At the same time, somewhere 40 miles North of the luxury resort, my wife was stepping out of the taxi, to visit some local women in their houses (shelters really).  The woman was waiting for her at the house entrance, so my wife made her way across her beautiful lawn, admiring the small path of stones in the grass, only to realise that she was not stepping on stones, but dead rats to cross the lawn.  I wonder how she looked and reacted when she saw the rats – if she ran screaming across the grass or jumped up on the nearest car, away from the dead rats.  Either way, the locals must have laughed their asses off, seeing this posh woman coming to visit and then pass out of fear.  Imagine if the rats were alive.

The first house she visited didn’t have electricity, but they still managed to have a TV, running on car batteries, and sharing the TV signal with the neighbour’s house.  Diapers were being washed to be re-cycled and milk was in limited availability.  I believe some of the women had to work 14-16 hours a day and their husbands had either left them, was an alcoholic or, if they were lucky,  worked far away from home returning only a few times a year- if lucky.

In the afternoon, the kids and I made our way to the resort’s kids club.  This was an excellent activity for the kids, and for me, as it meant playing with loads of kids and getting entertained by hotel staff.  By the way, it was three girls running the kids club, so our son was again charming and smiling his way to attention.  I was, on the other hand, stuck on a kid sized chair watching teletubbies in Spanish, while my left butt cheek was falling asleep!

My wife had a long day at work, so the kids and I decided to head to the resturant for some food.  Buffet again?  Oh well, we might as well eat some local food, have some wine and dessert, since they had made all this food anyway.  It would be a shame to waste any of it.

In Costa Rica, it gets dark around 18.30 (pm), and all the nightly crawlers arrive within 20 seconds of the last sun rays disappearing.  This normally results in me slapping myself frantically, trying to brush off the various bugs attempting to get their dinner (eating me).  However, it also results in the area getting pitch black.  All hotels have their own generators, but outside the resort, all houses are dark – no electricity.  This would most likely freak out my wife.

The kids and I ran home, closely followed by the local biker mosquitoes, and I got the kids ready for bed.  They didn’t need a shower/bath, as we’ve spent several hours in the pool. So it was just a matter of brushing their teeth.  We jumped into bed, turned on the TV and browsed the 70 odd channels to find a kids program. We found Playhouse Disney (South American version, all in Spanish) and we relaxed from a long day in paradise.

With my Ray Meare senses, I noticed ligthning in the distance, over the mountains, and I could hear the rain breaking the surface on the lake.  Rain in these parts of the World often means buckets of water coming down in less than 10 minutes, causing everything to flood.  I suddenly remembered that I had clothes out to dry…you know, our bathing suits.  Hopefully my wife would be in a dry spot.  This made me think, where she might be and how soon she would return.

As we relaxed, the sky lit up and then everything went black.  When I say black, I mean pitch black.  Even Riddick (“Pitch Black” movie) would have difficulties seeing anything.  Everything had turned off and the kids were scared.  You couldn’t seen anything with your eyes open, which was a very weird feeling, because the clouds covered the stars and the moon.  A few seconds later, the electricity came back and we cheered like mad.  And, so did everybody else in the area.

BOOM!  Thunder cracked along the mountain ridge and the electricity went again.  Man, at this point the kids were shaking (but not crying) and holding on tight.  Back then I still smoked, so I lit the lighter and we could see again.  Shortly after the electricity came back again and it stayed on this time.  My wife arrived 20 minutes later, looking slightly wet and pale.  She obviosuly had experienced something that had worried her.
– nothing less than a culture shock, of how poor these women were and the conditions they lived under.

Remember the rats she stepped on?  Well, she frantically ripped off her sandals, threw them to me and told me to desinfect them.  Then she stripped down completely and said she needed to take a shower.  I kindly reminded her that the blinds were NOT down, meaning everybody in the vicinity could see her naked.  She hit the floor in less than 0.3 seconds, faster than speed of light and crawled like Rambo across the marble floor – her skin was screeching as it dragged on the tiles.  The kids and I just stood there stunned. We stared at her and smiled.  My son, little mummy’s boy, hit the floor too and crawled along side her to sympathise.  If somebody looked in the windows, they would have wondered what the hell was happening.

She had two more days away from the resort, but the rest of the interviews was conducted with resort staff.  In the evenings, after the kids had gone to bed, she would write her thesis, while I was sitting outside in the wilderness (porch) smoking cigarettes and drinking beers.  Once in a while, she would hear me scream, but only when oversized mosquitos attacked or when giant night crawlers landed on me.  Luckily, the killer iguanas slept at night and they didn’t come near the porch.

The rest of our stay and holiday as a family, can be found in the previous blog.

When we arrived back in Ireland, my wife completed her thesis and got her Master’s Degree.  I was very proud that day and it makes me remember her crawling naked on the floor in Costa Rica. All the hard work she put into this.

For further information on Costa Rica, please read these blogs too.
Pura Vida
Living La Vida Loca

Pura Vida, Costa Rica part 1

This blog will only describe our experience of getting to and from Costa Rica.  We had so many excellent moments and experiences and these have been honoured with their own blogs;  Born Survivor and Living La Vida Loca – both are still work in progress.

My dear wife persuaded me to go to Costa Rica on holidays, as she had to do some field research for her Master’s degree.  This sounded completely plausible and I signed the dotted line.  Well, you couldn’t really say no to my wife’s big brown eyes and, as stated previously, my wife needs to get her body baked by the sun at least 2 weeks a year.  So, the family holiday planner (my wife) booked and planned the holiday of a life time to Costa Rica.  Due to the distance and destination, and no direct flights, we had to fly to Atlanta first, then Liberia.
– for the record, it is not Liberia on the west coast of Africa, but Liberia in Costa Rica.

Dublin Airport is one of the few airports in the World that have US Immigration officers, so once you are cleared by these big guys, then you are cleared to enter the US.  So, this was really handy for us and it’s highly recommended.

We were flying with Delta Airlines, which I must admit were fantastic.  Nice big comfortable seats, for the slightly oversized arses, and portable media players with plenty of movies for both kids and adults.  Excellent service and food too.

Delta Airlines has Atlanta (Georgia) as their main hub, so we decided to stay in Atlanta overnight, instead of pushing our luck with the kids.  No need to encounter unnecessary aggravation.  The kids were, as usual, behaving brilliantly and we had no major incidents, except for that I wasn’t fast enough at changing the movie for my son and hand him his snack, so he started to kick the seat in front which with my luck could have been a gigantic American football player – luckily it was “only” my wife sitting there.  So, after an 8 hours flight to Atlanta, we arrived at Hartsfield-Jackson airport.  Customs was cleared fairly quickly, thanks to immigration check-in in Dublin, so we made our way to our luggage.  Now, this is slightly confusing in Atlanta airport.

  1. You first collect your luggage from the conveyer belts as normal
  2. Then you check them back in again and go through customs again!
  3. If you bought anything, such as booze or perfume, then you are advised to place it in the luggage as it would otherwise be confiscated
  4. Then you walk over 1 mile to the next luggage conveyer belt to collect your luggage, which is located in the public meeting area, giving everybody access to steal your luggage – so much for security

We made our way to collect our luggage, following the signs above.  Suddenly the signs disappeared and we were struggling to find directions.  So, I asked this elderly couple for directions and they just pointed me towards the far far end of a tunnel.  Still lost!  As I didn’t trust a retired elderly person with sunglasses in a Hawaiian shirt, I approached an oversized (muscles) security guard, who pointed me the same way – maybe elderly people are trustworthy after all?

We managed to drag our tired bodies, and kids, to the collection point, only to realise that the airport had a shuttle train going the lenght of the tunnel/corridor we just spent the last 40 minutes in!  Now it made sense that we were the only people walking.

The hotel was just a few miles on the highway from the airport, and again the American customer service was exceptionally good.  Everything is “Yes, mam” or “Yes, Sir”.  No arguing like in Dublin.  In this country, they understand that customers come first.

That evening we had a traditional American burger and fries. We shared one portion between us, due to the size, and still asked for doggy bags.

Off to bed and back to the airport next day, heading to Costa Rica.  It is only a short 3 hour flight to Liberia, but we still had in-flight entertainment systems (as they are called in the US).  As we were approaching to land, we saw the beautiful and lush terrain below, and we were greeted by a moist heatwave as we walked onto the tarmac.

My body instantly turned into a human wetsuit and sweat poured from my forehead. My wife and kids were fine, as if nothing had happened.  I could feel the water leaving my body and grass start to grow in my footsteps.  I needed water, and fast.

As per tradition, my wife had organised a personal driver to pick us up, who drove us to the hotel.  It was only a short 1 hour drive, and we went through beautiful (postcard) landscapes.  This was paradise.

On the west coast of Costa Rica, there’s only one traffic light, which is in Liberia crossing Highway 1. Highway 1 goes from the Sourthern tip of Chile to Canada.  Other than that, it is country roads, in much better conditions than most Irish roads.  The landscape flew by the windows, but we could clearly see that Costa Rica was a poor country.

After 45-55 minutes in the shuttle van (jet) we arrived at the posh hotel resort on Playa Conchal.  The driver had been treating us like royals because I gave him €3 in coins, as his son was collecting coins from around the World. €3 was apparently a lot of money for him.

Shortly after arriving, female staff were circling my son (damnit) and we were shown to our hacienda. It was overlooking the local golf course and a lake, which was inhabitated by a cayman crocodile.

Within a few minutes, the little hacienda was transformed into our habitat, making ourselves at home – toys and clothes everywhere.  Kids quickly dropped all their clothes to put on swim suits, running around naked while screaming.  So, the amount of clothes, bags, shoes and toys gave a nice homey feeling.

I started to explore and investigate our animal neighbours. I was chased across the lawn by an angry Godzilla like iguana – much to the amusement of my beloved wife.  There’s something about holidays and going abroad, which makes my wife look even more gorgeous – I could stare at her for hours.  I’m so proud to be married to her – she’s mine, so hands off!

Seriously, the iguana was at least 30 cm long and scary looking.  But, what people might not understand is that iguanas are primarily vegetarians, with only a few of them eating worms and other bugs.  So, I was like a screaming sissy running across the lawn, in full public view.  I’m sure the locals were very amused.

Soon after, we started to explore our new home, away from home, and this was tough.  Imagine having to spend 2 weeks in paradise; all-inclusive; 8 restaurants; bounty beach, a swimming pool the size of a small country and a pool bar – not to mention creche for the kids.  And, you are surrounded by a  Jurassic Park style jungle.  Somebody has to do it, and I volunteered.

This was a typical resort, with huge buffets and friendly staff, and the mandatory shows every evening.  Two weeks goes really fast when you are enjoying yourself.

We went on a couple of excursions, played some golf, but mainly stayed at the hotel.  Remember, my wife was doing research and had to work.  So, I was a home-alone dad stuck in paradise.

What do you do in paradise, well, check this out.  We had approx. 35 degrees every day, and it only rained the odd day, accompianed by heavy thunder storms, that might have caused a bit of panic.

Time flew and we had to prepare to go home.  Our daughter had developed excellent swimming skills and refused to leave the pool on the last day – she wanted to stay and so did we.  Our son  was finding it difficult to leave all his girls behind, but promised them that he would return one day to liberate them all – whatever he meant with that.

The trip back brought us back to Atlanta.  It is interesting that every time we arrived in Atlanta, out and back, my wife and I were pre-selected for security checks. We were privileged and felt special.  The funny bit is that my son HAD to be with me, while we were being checked, and my daughter HAD to be with my wife. Those were the rules outlined to us by the completely oversized (muscles) immigration officers; female and male.  And, these security officers absolutely had to have the most Forest Gump look-alike haircuts, no matter gender, while wearing reflective sunglasses from the 80s – not to forget the custom made black latex gloves.  I’m not too sure what the gloves were for, until the male security guy smiled at me… I haven’t been the same since.

Finally in Atlanta, with me walking like an old cowboy, where we met one of my wife’s friends. It was great to see her again and we had some good laughs.  We even went to a local farmer’s market (the size of Dublin city centre), where we had a good traditional American lunch.  Amazing.

We noticed that, when arriving in Atlanta, the weather wasn’t half as nice as in Costa Rica.  In fact, it rained a fair bit and it was fairly windy.  To my horror, I saw on the news that it was hurricane season, and some of these twiseters had visited some Atlanta suburbs in the previous days.  Well, we weren’t leaving for another 18 hours, flying home, so it’ll be fine?!  There were a few scattered reports about delays and cancellations of flights, but our flight was one time.

Excited to go home, we were some of the first passengers on the flight and found our seats, sitting with a child each.  Excited to be going home, eat some food, watch a few movies and then sleep.  I must admit, I was a tiny bit nervous about the flight home, probably because of the hurricane funnels I saw on the news, but take off was very smooth.

2 hours into the flight, just as we crossed the Eastern shores of America, the plane hit some severe turbulence – or at least my wife an I thought it was.  The kids slept calmly, not feeling anything, but we felt everything!  Suddenly, the plane dropped, just for a second, but enough for me to brown my undies.  Man, I was shitting myself and I grabbed my wife’s hand.  I looked around, and I noticed that we were the only ones in the entire plane finding it uncomfortable and screaming uncontrollably.  People around us were smiling, laughing and sleeping.  This just made me feel like chicken pooh, especially when the stewardess asked me “Are you alright sir?”  “Of course” I answered in a high pitch voice.  The “turbulence” only lasted 10 minutes, but it felt as an eternity to me.  I didn’t or I couldn’t fall asleep after that and I ended up being awake for approx. 30 hours, until we arrived safely at our house.

Home Sweet Home

We enjoyed our two weeks in Costa Rica tremendeously and we wish we could go back again.  It’s amazing how well our kids settled in and how quickly they got accustomed with the all-inclusive service and swimming pools.  One day soon, it’ll be expensive for my son to keep in touch with all his girls, scattered around the World, but I can help him set-up a web site to keep them up-to-date.

For further information on Costa Rica, please read these blogs too.
Costa Rica Adventures