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One Morning in Costa Rica: A Family Vacation Story from Las Catalinas

You sit, and you sip your coffee.

Just beyond your gaze the gently crashing surf drums in and out about a hundred yards from where you sit, past the place where the cantera stone street flows into the brick avenue that hugs the beach, past the trees swaying in the warm summer breeze. There’s a faint whisper of salt in the air, and it pleasantly mixes in with the sharp scent of the Costa Rican black in your mug, and the sweet-but-not-too-sweet after aroma of the handmade tortillas Laura, your house mom, made for this morning’s breakfast.

You take another sip, and sit comfortably back into your spot on the porch’s big chair, spotting a big black iguana basking in a tree nearby, long tail swishing back and forth as she soaks in the sun. You think you could learn a lot from her, eyes half closed in bliss with beautiful spines dotting her back, elegantly posed in a tree overlooking her kingdom, and let out a happy sigh.

The whole terrace is marked with the signs of a vacation well spent. A book lays finished on the porch coffee table, set gently on the table with bookmark satisfyingly placed sideways across its cover, next to a well traveled bike helmet laid on a folded towel and a pair of sunglasses nestled happily on a wide brim hat. On the floor leaning against the couch lay a pair of boogie boards, and past them by the plunge pool a few pairs of flip-flops and sandals in browns, blues, and hot pinks, accumulated in joyful rush to the water.

Beneath you on the road a lively conversation touches the ears and then passes, on down along the stone streets to the beach avenue. You recognize the casual Spanglish que es common around here, dipping in and out of los dos idiomas almost without thinking, and watch the couple disappear around the bend.

Another sip of coffee, and you settle somehow even more comfortably into the big chair, shoulders falling back as your eyes drift closed for a moment.

The chirping of the parakeets in the tree across the way comes to life as the little birds engage in morning conversation. The fountain splashes bubbles consistently into the pool like the running of a mountain spring, punctuated by the swaying of the trees in the swelling wind, the gentle hum of a bike coasting along the gentle downhill, the distant bounce of a football a few streets over.

Suddenly, the door behind you clicks open, and a pair of excited barefoot footsteps make a beeline past the table towards the couch next to you. Like two excited puppies, your oldest tumbles their way over the back of the couch onto the cushions, nearly falling off as the middle one finishes their trek around the long way, hopping up to join their sibling on the couch.

“Are you gonna come to the beach with us?,” the younger one asks.

“Yes, sweetie,” you reply. “In a little.”

“Aw come onnnnnnnnnnn…,” your oldest complains.

“You guys can go down without me,” you say. “I’ll catch up when I’m done with my coffee.”

With a look back and forth between them, the two groan in unison.

“Coffee always takes so lonnnnng!” they say.

“Hey, parents get to be on vacation too,” you say, sipping your coffee with exaggerated slowness.

The two groan in unison again, drawing a wry smile from your lips.

“If you guys go help get everything ready and pack up for the beach, we can leave sooner,” you offer.

The two of them look to you and then back to each other, unsure if you’ve given them what they want or masterfully manipulated them into helping with the work, but ultimately the end result is the same -- them at the beach -- and the little ones scamper away leaving you alone once more on the porch.

You sink even further down into the chair, glancing over at the big iguana, who hasn’t moved one inch, tail still swishing in the wind as she basks in the sunlight.

“How long do you think we’ve got?” you ask her. Behind you, the happy bustle of the kids getting ready echoes against the half closed door. The iguana has nothing to add other than to keep basking, and you sip your coffee.

Long enough.

Vacation in
Costa Rica

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