When we were planning this big Costa Rica trip Brandon and I settled on doing “one cool thing” (knowing our resort was going to be amazing and full of its own “cool things”). Haley and I sort of took the lead on finalizing and picking this particular excursion to be the big, fun, whole-group outing. There were 12 of us including our little girls, two teenagers, my sister in law and her husband who are super adventurous and my in laws. The “for all ages” rainforest hike and hot springs tour seemed perfect. We got on the tour van at 7am and were greeted with “there will be three bathroom breaks on this drive every hour or hour and a half or so depending on traffic and road conditions” and we all were like (insert scared face emoji) how the heck long is this ride?! We didn’t check that part, oops. For the record the description we went off of didn’t mention all the suspension bridges (my father in law can’t do heights), or steep climbs throughout the hike.
Regardless, we settled in for a long van ride which wasn’t awful for me because I was basically sitting with my BFF (my sister in law) and we were passing the kids back and forth, just chatting and taking in the amazing views. Between Brandon and I, Haley and her husband, my father in law, his wife and their two kids we had many hands to help with our girls.
When baby girl got cranky I snuggled her into the @happybaby carrier and she nursed and went to sleep. The ride was SUPER bumpy and winding so having her tucked into the carrier was a godsend. No car seats for us in Costa Rica.
Just as the kids (and the adults) were getting really rammy, we stopped at a little rest stop/restaurant/overlook/bathroom break. Everyone split a few amazing chicken sandwiches (local specialty, or so we were told…ha) and took in the views. Costa Rica is just one amazing view after another. And all so different! The coast, the mountains, the farm land, the rainforest. And then Arenal Volcano. Sally brought her Sally Pose, of course!
As we got closer and closer to the Volcano, it definitely started to pour. Our driver and guide explained that sometimes roads were shut down or completely impassable due to rain and mudslides so we were praying we didn’t get stuck or delayed. We got to the beginning of the rainforest hike and all of us started to panic. Our kids were definitely the only young people in sight let alone toddlers and infants and it was POURING. Like we can’t even call it rain- it was monsooning. The picture just do not capture theGrace was downright mad, Sally was just like “what are we doing Mom???” And Lilly was THRILLED that it was “really raining in the rainforest”, bless that girl’s heart. Brandon was giving me the look and I was trying not to laugh cry. We could do this! It would be fun! Everyone’s fine! Our on-sale Carter’s polka dot rain jackets would TOTALLY keep us dry (they didn’t even-a-little-bit keep us dry).
We slathered on the bug spray, waved good bye to my father in law who was more than happy to hang out in the gift shop/bar and went to sign waivers rendering us solely responsible for our lives and choice of footwear. (Who knew those trendy hiking sandals actually aren’t recommended as the best footwear??)
Before we even started walking Gracie’s legs became broken as they tend to do when faced with even the slightest area to travel on foot. Brandon picked her up so we could keep up with the group. Many people offered us help which we didn’t need but I thought was super kind. We got a lot of “good for you Mom and Dad!! We miss our kids this age so much and you’re giving them amazing memories!!” types of encouraging comments. Fairly certain we scarred a few newlywed couples for life with the chaos that was our family. My step sister swapped rain gear with me thankfully as my raincoat wasn’t keeping baby Olive dry at all. The poncho was better to cover her in the carrier. Olive pretty much nursed and was sound asleep in the first five minutes of being out in the rainforest. I don’t even think she knew we went outside.
We got to the first suspension bridge and I was actually freaking out. I’m not scared of heights and love anything adrenaline inducing (the higher/faster/scarier the better!) but something about wearing your infant and watching your tiny babies scale a massive swaying slippery suspension bridge in torrential rain was making my stomach flip. I was yelling through the booming thunder and pouring rain to my sister in law to hold hands and keep the kids moving. Careful of the implants! Someone has Sally’s glasses right?! Gracie and Sally just wanted to stop and stare down at the rushing water way down below us.
All the craziness aside, I literally cannot explain how amazing the rainforest was. I hope you all reading this get to see it in person someday. Trees just towering above and below you. Leaves the size of cars, birds and lizards and bats. Most everything else was hiding from the rain. But it was spectacular none-the-less.
Of course at the end of the hike it stopped raining. We got a tiny break to catch views of Arenal Volcano before getting back on the van and heading to the hot springs. The ride was just long enough for Sally to fall asleep: so wet, so cute.
If the rainforest hike was challenging (to put it mildly) the hot springs were like a welcome trophy at the end. We had a great lunch at Club Rio which recharged all batteries before changing out of soaking wet clothes into dry bathing suits and back out into the rain. The moment we stepped into the first hot spring I swear everyone’s complaints melted away and we were again stunned by the views of what surrounded us. The perfectly hot water, the sounds of the rain and rushing river. I could’ve stayed in these hot springs forever. The kids were happy to be loose and free, swimming and playing. PapPap had a few of them in a lower shallow pool, happy as can be. The “big kids” could hike up and around to higher and different hot springs. Olive and I enjoyed the yummy pebbles at the edge of the riverbed. It was pne of the most magical places we’ve ever been to as a family.
Unfortunately for us we had to factor in a very long (possibly treacherous) journey back to our resort over roads that were now likely to have been covered in mudslides. We were warned that we might have to turn around and try different routes and just take the safest roads possible even if it took awhile longer.
Haley and I had to shimmy everyone out of their wet clothes and then back into an odd collection of random clothes that were as dry as we could manage (we didn’t pack any towels- just assumed the commercially operated hot springs would have them available-wrong!) and then back on to the van. Lesson learned- bring resort towels on these excursions if you go! We later learned our resort supplies specific towels just for excursions. Oops.
I would do this tour again in a heart beat. It would’ve been awesome if the weather had been better but our guide said it’s just a total crap shoot sometimes in the rainforest and you can’t predict what you’ll see or be able to do. All things considered we got to see and do a TON for a single day!
And the best moment and favorite picture from this day:
This was Lilly’s face when she saw the sloth! Aunt Haley was just as excited haha. We were told they were impossible to see and highly unlikely to find one but she was beside herself when our guide stopped the van so we could all see one in person. I was so excited and happy watching Lilly that I forgot to take a picture of the actual sloth. Parenthood, Ha!
Third type of Monkey
Baby hummingbirds in a nest
I’m sure I’m forgetting something… more to come about our Costs Rica Adventure soon!