How Memories Are Made: Family Travel Through Nicaragua and Costa Rica

“There is a great hotel in San Jose!”, was my son’s response to our friend’s request for suggestions of what to do in Costa Rica.

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 10.04.27 PM

For almost three weeks we traveled throughout Nicaragua and Costa Rica – all eight of us – two families traveling together. We intended to have an adventure so we spent our days on volcanoes, zipping through the jungle canopy of Costa Rica, surfing in San Juan del Sur, hiking through the heat and humidity of a remote volcanic island, and riding horses. It was all adventure, but not all of it as positive as others; during the course of the trip the kids’  backpacks had been stollen and the kids managed to puke all over at least two hotels. It was an amazing [multi] family adventure! It really was. Honest.

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 9.44.33 PM

San Jose Marriott

When I think back on our trip I remember watching the sun set on the Pacific Ocean while drinking smoothies along the coast in Nicaragua, my husband remembers “Tyler’s Place” where we stayed to surf and explore Nicaragua. BUT if you ask my kids they will tell you that there is a great Marriott in San Jose!

They did just that the other day. We have friends who scored last minute United Airlines mileage tickets to Costa Rica and knowing we had been there, asked for recommendations. I offered up mine in a detailed email. In the soccer carpool this friend asked my son this question and he offered what was most vivid in his mind – The Costa Rica Marriott Hotel in San Jose. This friend sent me an email to confirm this was his response. We both laughed. Then I started thinking about how it could possibly be that my son’s best memory of our extended family trip was of a hotel?

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 9.34.27 PM

The white sheets!

Until the other day I hadn’t thought about the moment when we got to San Jose, after a long drive and our stollen backpack fiasco, for a long time. It reminded me that you cannot always predict what memories will be indelibly etched in your children’s minds. What will make the biggest impact. You just never know! In this case I believe it was the contrast of the relatively rustic way we traveled for close to three weeks, the stollen backpacks, being sick, then the safety of this simply luxurious hotel.

When we walked into the hotel it felt cloistered. It felt safe. It felt welcoming. The sheets were so white. The beds so tall. The restaurant had the most amazing buffet any of us had ever seen. They prepared anything the kids requested. My kids noticed ALL these details. All of them. We had not left Costa Rica but the Marriott made us feel like we had been swept up into the best of all worlds – local culture and amenities galore. This experience is indelibly woven into the fabric of my children’s beings. They may forget the other amazing things we did on our trip, but they will not forget this simple luxury.

Advertisements

Family Travel in Guatemala: A Full Sensory Experience!

IMG_4418

A Guatemala Trip Report: Our family of four had a blast!

The jungle here in Guatemala belies the hidden Mayan culture we are about to encounter. As the kids swim in the pool at our small hotel on the site of Tikal National Park I know they cannot comprehend what is right around the corner. No way. They complain about having to hike in. Par for the course. Then we come out onto the main plaza area in Tikal where they see pyramids and monkeys and things they have no words for – we all stop to soak it in. We are standing on this sacred spot looking into the past. Reminds me of the first time I saw the Grand Canyon – it was almost incomprehensible how large it was. Then our guide tells my boys they can climb around on the site and they immediately start exploring. Guatemala is truly a land of amazement and a perfect family travel experience!

Guatemala has a special place in my heart. My husband and I traveled to Guatemala in 1990. We took time off from college and spent 3 months learning Spanish and traveling around this amazing country. The indigenous culture, Spanish, vibrant colors, mountains, and the warmth of the people in this Central American country had left me dreaming of the day I would return. Since then I have always wanted to go back. I finally got the chance and took my kids – ages 10 & 12 – for 2 1/2 weeks.

Guatemala is not luxury travel. Though you can travel luxuriously. We IMG_3656used TripAdvisor to locate hotels that were family-friendly and retained a feeling of the local culture. A few years earlier we traveled to Costa Rica and we wanted something a little rougher, but not without any amenities. We organized most of our travel ahead of time, but left room for flexibility.

Guatemala is not insular. You can really get a sense of the culture through food, experiences, and observation. We chose to travel close to the ground and spend time observing [and participating in] the local customs and events whenever possible. It seemed we were always stumbling onto something new like on New Year’s day when the people in Antigua lit off literally streets full of firecrackers. Smoke filling the streets. People cheering. Believe me, we would never do this in the US!

IMG_4156Guatemala is not tame – there are adventures of all kinds to be had. We found ourselves traveling to some of the hot spots in this country since we had under three weeks. Our family spent time in Antigua, Chichicastenango Market, Tikal, and the Pacific Ocean site of Paredon Surf House. I would add Lago Atitlan and Livingston as must see family spots in Guatemala but we didn’t make it because of our schedule and choosing to travel more slowly! So to add to surfing some of the things you can find to do in Guatemala as a family are sailing, horse back riding and zip lining.

Here are the places we spent time in during our trip:

Antigua – We spent at least a week here on and off. The town is a Worldantigua Heritage site which was the capital of Guatemala at one time. The buildings are spectacular and the fact you can get a great cup of coffee was helpful! The kids loved wandering the cobblestone streets, eating lunch overlooking the plaza or in an amazing internal courtyard, touring a coffee cooperative, and experiencing the most amazing New Years party throughout the streets of Antigua – ever! If you were dropped in Antigua on New Year Eve you would think this was a town of Pyromaniacs – this makes for happy boys.

Chichcastenango – This was our first stop. A little overwhelming for theIMG_3615 kids as their introduction to Guatemala so I would head there again, but later in our trip. The market in Chichicastenango is amazing. It is the real deal. It is not intended for Gringo Tourists – people are selling day to day goods as well as masks. The best part was the fact that we happened upon a religious ceremony that includes ornate processions, and men hanging upside down from ropes on a pole 3 stories high. Captivating for all of us!

Tikal – The most amazing Mayan ruins rising out of the jungle! We stayed at a hotel on the site of Tikal National Park. A splurge. But it was amazing to be right in the park. A walk through Tikal is nothing like it would be in USA. You can climb all around and on these Mayan ruins so it was a full body experience and with 10 & 12 year olds they really appreciated being let loose. I highly recommend Tikal for any family!

Paredon Surf House – This is a little known location on the coast of Guatemala. Our family full of culture and loved every minute, but we IMG_4156wanted to satiate our surfing desires so we did some research and found Paradon Surf House in the town of El Paredon about 2 hours from Guatemala City. It was an amazing, tranquil, out of the way location right on the water with a pool, food available onsite [so no stressing about buying ahead and making it], and surf lessons available all day long. Perfect! Beside surfing along the black sand beaches was that there were people from all over the world staying in this small surf house that held maybe 30 people max. The kids got up and surfed the first day and then didn’t want to stop!

Getting Up Close & Personal – The thing we appreciated most is how close to the culture and people we got in Guatemala as tourists. It was the coffee tour that is burned in my mind – just our family with a coffee farmer & interpreter. We ended the tour at this farmer’s house where the kids got to separate the dried coffee by using a bike powered machine he clearly created, roast the coffee over a fire, meet the kids of this family, and drink coffee. They still talk about the “best coffee ever!”

Safety – We always felt safe traveling in Guatemala. With kids we decided to avoid the local bus service known as “Chicken Buses” which was bitter sweet because we traveled in relatively more comfort than we had in our previous visit, but we had some of our best experiences on these buses sitting next to chickens. We were careful with food and simply explained to the kids about not drinking water from an unknown source and washing regularly. It was easy and no one got sick!

The kids thoroughly enjoyed our Guatemalan adventure. They have asked that on our next vacation we stay in one place longer. What they described would fall into the arena of “All Inclusive” but I don’t think this is what they mean since they have never experienced anything of the sort. Will a more tame trip be in our future? I doubt it.

 

 

Boulder Family Events: April 19 to April 25, 2013

 IMG_0659

Friday, April 19

  • Kids 4 Kids Charity Event. Kids 4 Kids is a committee of middle school students dedicated to supporting organizations who help kids. This is the 2nd year the group has organized a music event featuring middle and high school musicians. The group’s purpose is to empower kids! This event raises money for the Children’s Hospital Colorado. eTown Hall, Boulder. Doors open at 5:30pm.
  • Friday Children’s Storytime at the Main Library. 10:15 to 11:00am. Free. Ongoing activity.

Saturday, April 20

Sunday, April 21

  • Marsh Songs Earth Day Celebration. Visit a local marsh with naturalist Dave Sutherland to listen for our local birds, and get a sneak preview of the orchestral work. Meet at Sawhill Ponds, on 75th Street about 0.6 miles north of Valmont Road, for this easy hike. Beginning bird watchers strongly encouraged! Bring binoculars if you have them. Please do not bring dogs. Free. 8am to 10:30am.
  • Magicians of the Mountain Parks – a magic show for the whole family. In celebration of Earth Day, come meet some of the astonishing magicians who live in our wild backyard – the rabbit, the skunk, the weasel and more. Magician Paul Norton and Naturalist Lynne Sullivan will reveal the amazing survival strategies of our wild neighbors. Meet at the Bluebell Shelter for this stationary nature magic show. In the case of very cold or snowy weather, it will be held in the Ranger Cottage at Chautauqua. Call 720 564-2058 the day of the program for the location. Click on this link for a map to the Shelter; there is a 0.8 mile walk from the Ranger Cottage at Chautauqua to the shelter along a dirt road, so give yourself and your family plenty of time to get there and enjoy the stroll along the way. 11am to 11:45am [arrive by 10:30 to walk to the shelter]
  • Comic Book Release Party Concert! A live performance by Paige and Jeff and the usual frivolity. Be the first on your block to get the NEW Coyote Bob & Ranger Paula Comic Book- Return to the Flatirons. In this issue, Coyote Bob moves away from his Boulder home. Plus- games, and tips on having nature fun. Meet at Settlers’ Park trailhead in Boulder. Free. 3:00 to 5:00pm.
  • Giddyup Kitty Bluegrass Band. This is a four-piece, high-energy, all-female bluegrass band. The Denver Post says they are “the finest bluegrass you’ll find anywhere.” Weaving fine melodies with rich harmony, these award winning musicians create a show that leaves an audience joyful, and asking for more! Classy, sweet, and smooth, you’ll be a believer, once you catch Giddyup Kitty fever! Free. All ages. 3:00pm at the Meadows Branch Library.
  • Go Club for Kids & Teens at the Main Boulder Library. 2:00 to 5:30pm. Ages 5 and up. Free. “Learn to play the ancient and mysterious game of Go.”

Monday, April 22

Tuesday, April 23

Wednesday, April 24

Thursday, April 25

Please let me know of any upcoming events that should be listed here. I am happy to include your free, low cost or unusual event in Boulder Family listing of weekly events. You can reach Boulder Families here or visit us on Facebook.

#families #free #Boulder #events #boulderfamilies #getoutside #April

Boulder Family Events: April 12 to April 18, 2013

Dino Lady Closeup_mini.medium

The Dinosaur Lady will be at the Boulder Public Library!

Friday, April 12

Saturday, April 13

  • Awesome Arctic Family Day at the CU Museum of Natural History. The Arctic is a cold and wondrous place! Learn about the peoples and animals that call this snow and ice world home. Explore how YOU are connected to the animals, cultures, and environment of the Arctic. Try on the blubber mitt; look up close at furred and feathered creatures. Build a totem pole, make finger masks to enliven the long, dark winter and make snow goggles to protect from the bright arctic sun. Free event. All ages. 10:00am to 4:00pm.
  • FREE Day at the Longmont Museum.
  • The Dinosaur Lady Presentation. Connie Burton Burkhart, aka The Dinosaur Lady, has created a unique blend of entertainment and education as she shares information and stories about dinosaurs, fossils, rocks, and digging in a dinosaur quarry. Weaving together facts and stories using fossils, puppets and props, the Dinosaur Lady has captured the interest of various museums, the Geologic Society of America, as well as many school and outdoor adventure groups throughout the southwestern United States. 2 Times: 11:00am George Reynolds Branch. 3:00pm Meadows Branch. Free. All ages.
  • Saturday Storytime at the Main Boulder Library. 10:15am.
  • BMoCA [Boulder Museum of Contemporary Arts] FREE Day. This is a surprisingly kid friendly space! We loved the one where you threw cups against the wall. See what’s happening at this local Boulder museum.
  • Be Well Mama event at BMoCA. Join health and wellness practitioners to learn about local Boulder resources for new and expectant mamas. Free. 1:00 to 4:00pm.

Sunday, April 14

Monday, April 15

Tuesday, April 16

Wednesday, April 17

Thursday, April 18

Please let me know of any upcoming events that should be listed here. I am happy to include your free, low cost or unusual event in Boulder Family listing of weekly events. You can reach Boulder Families here or visit us on Facebook.

#families #free #Boulder #events #boulderfamilies #getoutside #April

Boulder Family Events: April 5 to April 11, 2013

Life size LEGO car!

Life size LEGO car!

Enjoy these blog posts? Join Boulder Families on Facebook

FacebookIcon

Friday, April 5

Saturday, April 6

Sunday, April 7

Monday, April 8

Tuesday, April 9

Wednesday, April 10

Thursday, April 11

Please let me know of any upcoming events that should be listed here. I am happy to include your free, low cost or unusual event in Boulder Family listing of weekly events. You can reach Boulder Families here or visit us on Facebook.
#families #free #Boulder #events #boulderfamilies #getoutside #April

Boulder Family Events: March 29 to April 4, 2013

IMG_0478

Friday, March 29

Saturday, March 30

Sunday, March 31

Monday, April 1

Tuesday, April 2

Wednesday, April 3

Thursday, April 4

Please let me know of any upcoming events that should be listed here. I am happy to include your free, low cost or unusual event in Boulder Family listing of weekly events. You can reach Boulder Families here or visit us on Facebook.
#families #free #Boulder #events #boulderfamilies #getoutside #March #April

Boulder Family Events: March 22 to March 28, 2013

Love is a kitty!

Love is a sweet kitty!

Friday, March 22

Saturday, March 23

Sunday, March 24

  • Reading the Language of the Landscape. The roll of the hills, the texture in the fields, the patterns of the snow – these are the voices of the landscape, patiently waiting for an ear to hear and an eye to see the stories they have to tell. Join naturalist Lynne Sullivan to learn to read the language of the landscape for the subtle and significant stories of our beloved wildlands. Meet at the Chautauqua Ranger Cottage and bring water, snacks and plenty of layers as this hike will take us into colder, shadier trails. 10:00am to 1:00pm.
  • Go Club for Kids & Teens at the Main Boulder Library. 2:00 to 5:30pm. Ages 5 and up. Free. “Learn to play the ancient and mysterious game of Go.”

Monday, March 25

Tuesday, March 26

Wednesday, March 27

Thursday, March 28

Please let me know of any upcoming events that should be listed here. I am happy to include your free, low cost or unusual event in Boulder Family listing of weekly events. You can reach Boulder Families here or visit us on Facebook.
#families #free #Boulder #events #boulderfamilies #getoutside #March

Boulder Family Events: March 15 to March 21, 2013

Puppets and things.medium

Photo courtesy of BPL

Friday, March 15

Saturday, March 16

  • McGuckins Apprenticeship Program: Annual Make & Take. Kids come to McGuckins Hardward and make a model onsite and then you can take it home. Free. 10:00am to 2:00pm. East side of the store.
  • CU Museum of Natural History: Family Day brought to you by the letter B. Learn about bees during the day. Bees, beetles, birds, bison, blossoms, brontotheres, and butterflies are just a few of the bountiful, beautiful beasts and botanicals we’ll explore.  Bring your bodies and your brains to the museum for a day of big fun with the best “B’s” from our collections. Free. 10:00am to 4:00pm.
  • CU Wizards: Fibonacci numbers and the golden ration–Why can’t we all just get along! This fun event is presented by CU professor “wizards” in a creative way. Free. 9:30am.
  • The Prairie Saga. Join the City of Boulder’s Open Space & Mtn. Parks to learn about how we live on the short grass prairie and yet it is still one of the most endangered and least understood ecosystems. Come meet Petey, the Prairie Dog, as he learns about the amazing animals that live on the prairie. Snakes, Black Footed Ferrets, Burrowing Owls and Ferruginous Hawks all tell us their stories in an entertaining and educational puppet show. Meet at the Chautauqua Ranger Cottage. Ages 6 and up. Free. 1:00 to 2:00pm.
  • French Storytime. Main Boulder Library. 10:15am.
  • Puppets and Things on Strings. Willy Worm takes kids on an Adventure in Reading where they not only explore how reading opens up a world of learning, but also why reading is important. They also learn about classics and how to use their imagination. A highlight is when Willy tells them a hilarious fractured version of a story he has just read. Kids are amazed when a drawing of a classic book comes to life before their eyes. Free. George Reynolds Branch @ 11:00am and Meadows Branch at 3:00pm. 
  • BMoCA [Boulder Museum of Contemporary Arts] FREE Day. This is a surprisingly kid friendly space! We loved the one where you threw cups against the wall. See what’s happening at this local Boulder museum.
  • Thoroughly Modern Millie performed by Rocky Mtn Theater for Kids. Buy tickets right away because they sell out! This is a performance by kids for kids. Super fun. Through March 17.

Sunday, March 17

  • Go Club for Kids & Teens at the Main Boulder Library. 2:00 to 5:30pm. Ages 5 and up. Free. “Learn to play the ancient and mysterious game of Go.”
  • Thoroughly Modern Millie performed by Rocky Mtn Theater for Kids. Buy tickets right away because they sell out! This is a performance by kids for kids. Super fun. Through March 17.
  • St. Patrick’s Day Festivities. Happy St. Patrick’s Day to one and all! Come celebrate Irish heritage on March 17th at 10:00 am at the Pine Street Church in Boulder. We’ll have bagpipes, fiddle music, food, and activities for your little leprechauns. Bring a friend or two. All are welcome. No exceptions! See you there!

Monday, March 18

Tuesday, March 19

Wednesday, March 20

Thursday, March 21

Please let me know of any upcoming events that should be listed here. I am happy to include your free, low cost or unusual event in Boulder Family listing of weekly events. You can reach me at Boulder4Families@gmail.com or visit us on Facebook.
#families #free #Boulder #events #boulderfamilies #getoutside #March

Boulder Family Events: March 8 to March 14, 2013

IMG_0348

Friday, March 8

Saturday, March 9

Sunday, March 10

Monday, March 11

Tuesday, March 12

Wednesday, March 13

Thursday, March 14

Please let me know of any upcoming events that should be listed here. I am happy to include your free, low cost or unusual event in Boulder Family listing of weekly events. You can reach me at Boulder4Families@gmail.com or visit us on Facebook.
#families #free #Boulder #events #boulderfamilies #getoutside #March

Boulder Family Events: March 1 to March 7, 2013


perspective2

Friday, March 1

Saturday, March 2

Sunday, March 3

  • FREE Day at the Boulder History Museum. They offer hands on rotating exhibits that are great for kids.
  • Nature for Kids & Parents: Lions, Bobcats, Lynx, Oh My! Fascinated by cats? Join Debora Martin, Early Childhood Educator/Volunteer Naturalist on an adventure into the mystery of our Colorado cats!  Long tail, short tail, spots, bearded, tufted ears, ghost cats?  With a little understanding of these great cats and their habitats, we can coexist with these magnificent animals!  Meet at the Chautauqua Ranger Cottage for an easy hike filled with fun activities at 1:00 pm. Ages 6 and up.
  • Go Club for Kids & Teens at the Main Boulder Library. 2:00 to 5:30pm. Ages 5 and up. Free. “Learn to play the ancient and mysterious game of Go.”

Monday, March 4

Tuesday, March 5

Wednesday, March 6

Thursday, March 7

Please let me know of any upcoming events that should be listed here. I am happy to include your free, low cost or unusual event in Boulder Family listing of weekly events. You can reach me at Boulder4Families@gmail.com or visit us on Facebook.
#families #free #Boulder #events #boulderfamilies #getoutside #March