We stayed firmly on the beaten track in Costa Rica. We went to typical tourist sites. This was intentional. Mikhail and I - and Mike and Maud, the friends we were traveling with - have done a lot of traveling off the beaten track. At times way off. But for this, our first international travel with kids, we decided that typical tourist amenities were right up our alley.
In Monteverde, we went full-on nature-tourist. We visited a butterfly/insect exhibit, a snake exhibit (Mikhail happily sat that one out), a frog exhibit, a hummingbird feeding area, and a hanging bridges cloud forest walk.
The butterflies were quite friendly.
*Perhaps even a little overly friendly.
Let us just be clear that it is not my breast in the above photo being felt up by a butterfly.
One even laid eggs on Mike's back. Perhaps it was all that fermented mango they were feeding them.
The snakes, however, were not so friendly.
Although that's not fair of me to say. Maybe they were friendly. Maybe they would have loved a little cuddle. But they were behind thick glass, and we weren't getting close enough to find out for ourselves.
Mikhail hates snakes. Elan's favorite animals are snakes. And his very favorite snake is the eyelash pit viper, one of the most dangerous venomous snakes found between Mexico and Venezuela. Go figure.
Mikhail and I have a theory that our older child thrives off of oppositional energy -- not when it comes to school (at least not so far), or to his age-mates (thankfully), but when it comes to us, his parents. It started at birth. We assumed that, as a first baby, he'd follow statistical trends and be late. But instead, he was a full two weeks early. The weekend he decided to make his grand entrance was not only just before a gigantic work project was due for Mikhail's then-new job, it was also the weekend my parents, our nearest family members when he was born and we were living in North County San Diego, moved out of the house they had lived in for 27 years.
He says the eyelash viper is his favorite snake because it's yellow, and yellow is his favorite color.
Let's just say that, from the start, he's liked to keep us on our toes.
This was my favorite snake.
The coloring on this guy is magnificent. And he's not actually poisonous, he just looks like a poisonous snake so that predators will leave him alone. Or at least that's the story I remember about him, and after 20 minutes of googling Costa Rican snakes to try to remember his name, I'm willing to stick with that story. Plus, I think there's a metaphor in there somewhere if you go looking for it.
The hummingbirds were, as Maud likes to say, "amazeballs!"
Hundreds of them zoomed from feeder to feeder, whizzing by your head lightning-fast, with their sharp beaks seeming only inches from your eyeballs. Sometimes I wanted to duck. But I trusted that they knew what they were doing.
They weren't upset by the red interloper, though they really didn't seem to know what to make of his price tag.
Then there was this.
Which was quite amazing, so long as I didn't allow myself to consider the possibility of getting lost.
Or anyone falling off a bridge. Which I did not consider, not for a moment.
*The four of us seasoned travelers (not the kiddos, novices that they are) are known for our loyalty. Once we find a cafe or restaurant that we really like, we go back over and over. In Monteverde, that was a cafe called The Common Cup, which had the kind of Costa Rican coffee we were hoping to drink everywhere but of course only found a few places.
*Note my icy, frothy, chocolate-y coffee drink. Yum.
*And Elan's eating a cinnammon roll, minus the frosting because that qualifies as gooey. Look at that, the kid did eat in Costa Rica!
Emry was feeling much better.
And Elan was still in a really good mood.
At least most of the time.
*Starred photos - credit Mike Moclair & Maud O'Connor