At Sunday dinner in the dead of winter, my lovable but maladjusted tribe decided an excursion to Coast Rica, where the sun is warm and the soft trade winds blow in gently from the ocean, would be just the remedy we needed for the winter doldrums. As with everything our family does, we were playing with a full house, if not a full deck.
So, on the fourth of July, we assembled our posse of misdemeanors…everyone who shares the same genes, chromosomes and last name…and virtually stampeded to paradise.
This was a feat in itself. In order to simplify and expedite our travel time, we swore a sacred oath of carry-ons only, and solemnly vowed that if #1 Matriarch got lost, everyone would try to find her.
(These matters must be decided prior to departure and notarized legally before anyone packs a tooth brush! It’s rather like a living will of retrieval sealed by a blood oath. Matriarchs can’t be too careful.)
Family. Costa Rica. What more does one need? (Dramamine, Ambien, and a good supply of anti-anxiety meds come to mind.)
We rented a van that could harbor 12 people plus luggage, “canned Ashtons,” bade farewell to solitude and any shred of privacy, and, grinning idiotically, we were off on our excellent adventure.
The roads in Costa Rica are narrow and very winding, and we would often round a corner just to find ourselves in the midst of a herd of bulls. These animals are colossal, and inadvertently hitting one would cause a bovine holocaust. The creatures seemed docile, in spite of their staggeringly large horns and other physical endowments that would most assuredly qualify them as serious contenders in the annual testicle festival, held each year in Wyoming. I am not making this up. I saw multiple billboards proclaiming this festival when I thought I was in Idaho last month. Brodi informed me I was actually in Wyoming, which accounts for my confusion. It caused me to wonder just who is eligible to compete in this celebration, and if there was discrimination based on gender. Something to ponder. Nowadays, such biases are politically incorrect and constitute unlawful discrimination. There needs be equality in all things, especially testicle festivals.
Ah, but back to Costa Rica. On our way to our first residence, it was exceedingly agreeable to be out in the open, warm woods of a new country…the open, unfamiliar, unnerving woods. However, it was a dark and stormy night, and our GPS had directed us to a rough, uphill, unpaved road that was baffling, contradictory, and slightly spooky.
At one point, we all disembarked from the van to prevent the vehicle from tipping over an embankment or sliding down a mud slick. My keen peripheral vision detected movement of unknown origin in the nearby underbrush, but I was able to maintain enough composure not to revert to my usual bizarre and erratic behavior. Instead, I tried to divert the kids’ attention to higher landscape, where we were less likely to see small furry animals and denizens of the dark.
Finally, in a hallelujah moment, we emerged from the woods and reached our destination. In unrestrained jubilation, I perkily blurted out, “It’s like the Garden of Eden!”
And right on cue, a snake, yes, a green Biblical serpent, hung down from the roof, aloof, motionless, observant. In fairness to serpents, this one seemed more curious than ominous. Nevertheless, in the dark, all snakes are anacondas – hefty and hungry.
However, not wanting to alarm the children, (they can smell fear), I said it was a sign, an omen that we would not have to fear rodents…or small dogs…or horses…
It was our guard snake, our protector. We all felt safer, except for one of us. I kept one eye open and some fig leaves nearby, in case we had to evacuate quickly. My daughters quipped that a couple of pine needles would amply cover my nakedness in any emergency. I warned them not to make me get out my thong bikini, and they immediately ceased their mockery. (Even my sons-in-law cowered at that threat.)
Costa Rica is beguiling. And we all decided to practice our Espanol.
Fact: “Donde esta el bano?” will not produce a burger and fries. It only makes one appear to have bladder issues.
The ocean was 12 steps from our front door, and we swam, boogie boarded and body surfed. I loved it.
We also did the zip line through the rain forest. After my initial and slightly imbecilic inquiry of the guide – “Am I going to die?” to which he replied, “I hope not.” - I was absolutely exhilarated by the experience.
In broken Spanish, I gushed, “I. LOVE. IT!!!” Our guide seemed somewhat taken aback, and rather perplexed he answered, “Gracias. I love you, too.”
Dang! Obviously, in Spanish, I am pronounally impaired. I suffer from pronoun dysfunction. (Not enough blood flow to my pronouns.) The side effect is acute humiliation, relieved by a son-in-law fluent in the language, who doesn’t seem to mind rectifying his mother-in-law’s impotent Spanish by explaining to the natives that she’s a shingle short.
Perhaps the true measure of a successful family vacation lies in the editorial comments of the clan members themselves.
Upon hearing of a family in Houston whose members were all murdered except one, Erin said, “I would not want to be the only survivor. If one goes, we all go.”
Brodi replied, “Let’s always take our vacations together.”
This was at the END of the trip, after we had turned in the van, and I, as per tradition, had been “randomly selected” for extra security procedure. (@&*$!!!)
Separate entities…one Soul.
So, in the vein of “all vacations, all together,” we headed to Cedar City for our annual trek to jolly old England and the Shakespeare Festival, where we swapped Espanol for iambic pentameter.
I suppose where family is concerned, it’s the journey that matters most. We all must go into the woods. But we must also go the distance.
It’s best to go together.