Emma and Lily beg for more quarters for the video game on our five hour layover in the newer international terminal of JFK, New York. The Empire State building and the skyline of Manhattan is visible over the airport terminal and jets. In between us and them is the mighty Brooklyn and it’s 2.5 million inhabitants. That’s half the population of this trip’s destination: Costa Rica!
Lily is getting a silly ride on the back of my roller luggage and laughing uncontrollably. “I love when the Creekmores travel!”, she yells just before falling off again with hysterical laughter.
The Creekmores travel with a purpose. It fulfills a promise we made to ourselves years ago that we would spend a year traveling with our kids. Trish had been diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer and we thought if our time together was limited, we would spend it on the road as a family.
Since 2005, we’ve done 20 weeks of foreign adventure travel. Costa Rica is week number 21 and 22. Over a food court lunch, Emma rattles off the 16 countries she’s been to. Today is number 17, Costa Rica.
Central America is one of Trish’s favorite places. She spend a few months here backpacking as a youth, and many months in Belize living with jungle dwelling boyfriends and writing a budget travel guide for the now defunct Berekley Travel Guides.
Costa Rica is going to have a lot of adventure, but we are taking a slower pace, avoiding crowds, and enjoying a few luxury spots along the way. This is the kind of trip Trish has been wanting for a while.
Waiting for something to go wrong
Usually something goes wrong at the beginning – a bag gets lost, a flight is overbooked, weather causes problems, or the border control is endless. But this time it’s a breeze. Even when I think I don’t have the contact information for our pickup in San Jose, Emma notices the guy with our name plate ‘Creekmore’ standing 10 feet from me.
Our overnight hotel, The Adventure Inn, is close to the airport and very accustomed to travelers using them as a gateway to the rest of Costa Rica. The dinner is great. Coca Cola made with cane sugar, and refried beans with inform tell our gleeful stomachs that we are in Latin America.
Tarcoles Crocodile Bridge
On our way to Uvita we pass over the Tarcoles Crocodile bridge – a spot famous for its group of happy crocs underneath one of the busiest highways in Costa Rica. It’s infamous for being a small-crime scene. We saw no evidence of this, but Trip Advisor is full of warnings that local hoodlums prey on unsuspecting tourists and their rental cars just like the crocodiles do the finches in the water below.
We drive for four hours from San Jose to Uvita in a very comfy air conditioned Van. It wasn’t cheap – about $250 – but worth the money to not have to drive Costa Rican highways. Down the Pacific Coast and past the most popular resort towns, Jaco, Manuel Antionio, Dominical we drive to the tiny, undeveloped town of Uvita where we will stay for a few days.
After checking into our eco-lodge and eating lunch our rental car is dropped off for us. Then we walk a half mile to cool off in the private swimming hole. Wow, Costa Rica is so easy! Uvita has only two roads, and somehow we get lost, but by trial and error we connect with Bodhi Surf School, and our two instructors Hebron and Adrianne – bronzed hard-bodies from Canada and Mexico.
The sun is beginning to set, and there is a growing surge, but there are plenty of waves. Emma and Lily are instant pros. Trish and I struggle a little more, although I’m able to get up and do short rides. We’ll get better each day. It’s exhausting.
Night comes at the lodge room which vibrates with sounds of ocean, birds, howler monkeys and insects. It’s not been this loud since we were camping in the jungle in Mexico. But we’re all so tired that sleep comes quickly.