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Costa Rica - Dreams Las Mareas

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Finally sharing some photos from where we stayed in Costa Rica and answering some questions about the hotel that I've been asked. Since my whole family was traveling, we were 11 in total and the ages ranged from 4-65! We decided to stay in an all-inclusive hotel in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica just south of the Nicaraguan border. We chose this because we were traveling in the rainy season and this province is the driest of the country. We enjoyed sporadic rain while we were there. Never lasting more than 30 or so minutes, and probably 3-4 times over 10 days total. So not rainy at all if you asked us. Not sure how it was in different parts of the country. All of the photos in this post were taken at the hotel or at the beach/bay of the hotel. 

We decided to stay put for the entire trip and just schedule day trips off the resort and it was a great call. And it is motivation for us to return and explore different areas we never saw! We stayed at the Dreams Las Mareas Resort. I have heard this is the nicest of the Dreams resorts, so I am not too helpful on how it compares to their other locations, but I can say it was a lovely stay and a beautiful resort. 

The resort had gorgeous pools, 6 restaurants, kids club, trampoline, on the beach, beautiful rooms, fabulous food, excellent spa. It was a definite win. The only suggestion I have if you are traveling with a large group like we did, be sure to communicate clearly with the concierge if you are planning to eat together. It seemed the restaurants were not used to catering to large families so it took a few days for them to figure out we were going to be eating, all 11 of us, together every dinner. And we expected them to put tables together or allow us to wait until they could seat us together. Once they figured that out, it was smooth sailing. It still is crazy to us that the mini bar and all you could want to eat and drink is included. And you can bet my kids eat their weight in food. 

The spa was beautiful and we took the kids on our final afternoon to enjoy all the mineral pools. The gym was decent, not huge but it was air conditioned and had the equipment we needed to do a quick run and some free weights. The food was really really good. I don't think we had a bad meal once. And with all the choices of restaurants, you never got tired of any menu. 

With the beach right there, we would check out boogie boards, snorkeling gear, kayaks and paddle boards almost daily. Greta was stung once by a jelly fish but it was not too eventful, her brothers did offer to pee on it for her. No thanks.

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I often compare the lushness of Costa Rica to Kauai. Although we were told in the winter months it is not green at all, which was hard to imagine. 

The few times the sky opened up and it rained, it didn't affect what we were doing too much. Can you see just how much it was raining in this photo?!

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Technically we were there during the off season, so I can't say how crowded it is during peak times, but we didn't have much issue finding umbrellas and pool lounge chairs. Some of us would eat pool side and some would head to a restaurant on the days we stayed put at the resort. 

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Outside our hotel rooms you just walked a handful of steps, and there was a pool. The kids would be in that pool until the very last second where they had to hop in the shower before dinner. And the pool connected to their cousins and grandparents pool.

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And the slide you guys, the slide! Needless to say they could be found here most of the afternoon. 

If I didn't answer your question feel free to email me or ask in the comments, happy to answer and help. Costa Rica, we will return! And hopefully I can get my act together now that the kids are in school, and blog some of our fun adventures while we were there. 

Bye Summer '17

Summer of 2017 you are almost over. One kid (can I still refer to high school sophomores as kids?) starts school Wednesday, and the other two next Monday. We have been busy school supply shopping, buying new lunch boxes and backpacks, trying on uniforms, packing pencil cases and checking school schedules. 

Summer '17 you have been good to us. One of the best yet. It took me a good week or two to find my groove. It was a summer full of travel yet was probably our most laid back one to date. Other than our planned vacations we took advantage of not having set plans and did what we wanted. Want to go to the beach? Let's go. Movie? Let's do it. Rock climbing? Sure. I did have to work here and there, but I tried to do during two weeks of summer camp the younger two had. Two weeks was just right to give us a little routine, me time for work, and them time with friends. 

The photo above was taken from our recent camping adventure in Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park. Definitely a highlight of our summer. We explored and hiked and cooked on open fire, collapsed into our sleeping bags each night, and came home with hearts full and muscles sore. 

We are all excited about this school year. I am particularly excited to be back to only TWO schools! Three school was tough last year and I am thankful I will not be back at three schools anytime in the foreseeable future. Two it is from here on out! We made it through last year, challenges and all. I think I only forgot two kids one time each. Not too shabby if you ask me lol. I will never complain about having kids in different schools ever again. I usually start school years anxious and a pile of nerves and this year I don't have those feelings. I am certain it will be full of good and bad, challenges and tears, and new and old friends, and I feel like we will get through all of it together. It's going to be ok. I love the changes that this school year is bringing for our family. I love having Greta back at school with her brother. We are ready for you.

Maybe it has something to do with how good you were to us Summer. Thank you for your sunshine, your warmth, your cool nights, your long days, and your open roads...come again soon.

xo

Catarata Falls - Costa Rica

I've received a lot of questions about these falls and I thought I would explain as best I can for those traveling to Costa Rica and wanting to visit. I had these falls on my list without really knowing where in the world they were, all I had was the name and a photo!

The morning we were heading into Rincon de la Vieja National Park I asked our tour guide if we would be anywhere near Catarata Falls and showed him the photo I had. He immediately said we would be five minutes from the falls. Honestly, I thought he was joking and would take us to a similar waterfall nearby. But when it actually worked out, my heart just burst with happiness. 

I cannot remember if Catarata Falls was inside the National Park or just outside the entrance, but there is a fee to hike to them and swim, about $5 American dollars. The key is to make sure the water is clear and clean when you go. Because it's fresh water, and we were traveling during the rainy season, our tour guide explained that we would need to check with the desk people to see if it was safe for swimming, because rain can bring a lot of run off with it. Low and behold they said it was crystal clear and perfect conditions. The hike down is about 5-10 minutes, and you have to cross a narrow suspension bridge, but it is worth all of it. The clear blue water was just amazing. And they have a little ladder built into the rock for climbing up to jump off the rocks into the lagoon. My three kids all loved it and did it over and over again. We were the only ones there and it was the best part of the day for me.