Still pinching myself

The Christmas holiday that came to an end just a few days ago was unlike any previous. We packed bags and travelled a good 24 hours to beautiful and exotic Costa Rica, the greenest place I have ever seen. Rainforest green, cloud forest green, mountain green, pineapple, mango, banana, coffee, sugar cane and rice plantation green.

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We spent just short of three weeks exploring a world so, so different to our own. We toured the country moving from low lands to high lands, from volcano to beach, jungle to city, sea to river and sea again. Swam in rough and salty surfing waves and quiet, clear bays, pools heated by hot springs, pools shaped like turtles and in lakes and rivers with goose bump creating waterfalls with milky white spray. We went to the most stunning beach where thousands upon thousands of turtles come to lay their eggs each year. We did not swim in its shark infested, rip tide pulling Atlantic water. Others did!

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Ants and centipedes spotted along the way were studied in depth as were other creatures no matter how big or small. They were all pretty amazing. Slow moving sloths, ugly crocs, fluffy opossums and coatis, cross looking (but surprisingly) vegetarian iguanas, bright green frogs, scarlet macaws, tiny hummingbirds, beautiful toucans and butterflies, tree climbing porcupines, sleepy bats and noisy monkeys. Loads of monkeys. And the list just goes on and on. We count ourselves very fortunate to have had the most amazing and passionate guide with funny stories to tell and knowledge that exceeded our wildest imagination. Leo, is his name and I think I will tell you more about him another day. Passionate people, you know. Always inspiring. Always worth sharing.

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Then there was the food of course. It was so good. Often quite simple, which I prefer, rich in flavour, healthy and made with abundant sun ripened, freshly picked or just caught, local ingredients. We picked coffee, ground cocoa beans, pressed and sucked sugar cane and baked tortillas on a wood burning stove following sweet Mama Rosa’s gestures and skilful movements. How spoilt we were and how I will miss is all.

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The greenest country I have ever seen, the food, the wildlife, the adventures, the exploring, the people, Leo. How grateful I am for this Christmas holiday. It will no doubt last a lifetime.

Coconut alert

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Watching BBC’s stunning Africa program with the kids tonight sent me thousands of miles from home re-living some of the most thrilling and out-of-this-world experiences I had when I ventured on adventure holidays to Vietnam, Thailand, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana. The detail of the memories, the sounds, the smells, the sights, the spine tingling mixed with other sensations of pure and utterly unbelievable enjoyment in my body. Being wrapped in a slightly itching blanket, watching flocks of wild animals gathering around a water hole in the dusk, climbing to the top of on an endless sand dune as the sun rises, sleeping on copper coloured, warm rocks under a dark, dark sky where stars are fighting for their right to shine the brightest, wobbling on a bamboo raft under a gushing shower made by a waterfall, giggling at a sign reading “watch out for falling coconuts”, tasting unknown exotic fruits and snake and crocodile and being dared to eat silkworms and saying why not!

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Returning eventually and slightly dazed to the sofa, I look at my kids spellbound by a frog and then a butterfly fish making a narrow escape, I consider how to bring more wonder and adventure in to our daily life and decide that perhaps we ought to start by breaking more rules. The self imposed ones, the ones we for strange reasons think we have to follow and the ones made by us as a society. Elephant rides don’t come with seat belts, beaches don’t always have flags to say it is safe to swim, it is FUN to stand on the back of a truck with wind whipping your hair in to your eyes, cows sometimes like to mingle and don’t always live behind fences and neither do amber eyed monkeys, more than 5 people can ride on one bike, bananas don’t grow in to plastic bags, food may contain more than a few bugs and be cooked by people who live in a jungle and own pigs and always have bare feet and couldn’t care less about washing their hands.

And here I am, still alive, with a big smile on my face remembering some of the best times I have ever had. So perhaps we should just relax a bit with all these rules.Or “chillax” as we like to call it. Cos’ we live on the edge and like to break the rules. Ha!

By the way {in case you were wondering} silkworms do not have much flavour.