The First Adventure Alone as a New Parent! by Tui Frye, Events Planner
I have a soon-to-be three year old daughter and I also have a confession to make. We have never really left her with anyone. There have been a few occasions that we have left her with friends or family for very brief bits of time, but other than that she has always either been with me, her Dad or both of us. And it was time. Most kids her age are in regular day care and/or accustomed to being away from their parents for at least a few hours at a time. I think about all those mom things – like she needs to learn to follow instructions, take turns and be independent. Honestly we never made the opportunity. That is until a few weeks ago…
Hubby and I were given the chance to go white water rafting. Together! Yes, we thought. It had been a long time since we had been together. At least without a toddler along. Oh, but wait… the toddler. She probably couldn't go? What would we do with her? As it turns out Desafio offers a free art class on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons for kids of employees. It is taught by another Desafio employee, Selina who studied art and is artist herself. Seriously? We didn't have an excuse or reason not to go? And she would be in a class setting, expanding her horizons? And she would come home with an art project? No more convincing was necessary. We were in.
On the morning of our tour, I was admittedly getting pretty nervous. We went to the Desafio headquarters in downtown La Fortuna and we were picked up with our fellow rafters to travel to the Rio Balsa. We had a 10 am tour time and by 10:04 we were on the road. It was about a 45 minute drive through some really quaint little Costa Rican towns and acres of farmlands, plantations and jungle. All of it still takes my breath away!
We reached the launch point and found a few other vans had arrived before us and people already geared up in life jackets and helmets and ready to go. There were actually bathrooms (thank goodness!) and I changed into my bathing suit. Then we got into our life jackets and joined the group as they were starting the safety talk and instructions. I must say, I felt much better after the talk as they gave us very clear and concise instructions. I figured I would be able to remember all of it. We were then grouped off by who we came with into groups of 4-5 people and each assigned a guide.
We were paired with a really cool couple from California. They had rafting experience so I was very happy to have them along in our boat. We were first into the boat and our guide gave us a few minutes to get used to the raft and our paddles and how to move together. He was fun and that immediately calmed me down a bit. We all seemed to get the hang of paddling together and we were off.
I was impressed with the fact that they also had several safety kayakers along. That made me feel better too. I surprised myself as I was actually amazingly confident as we started paddling down the river and quickly met our first set of rapids. It was such a blast!! It was more adrenaline than I had experienced in a long time - and I loved it!
What I really liked about the river is that we got breaks in between the rapids to really look around and take in the amazing surroundings. Along the river we saw sloths, birds, grazing cows, swimming families and pure, unadulterated rain forest.
After a bit we stopped at a rocky beach and the guides cut up fresh pineapple and watermelon. It was just the break we needed, at just the right time and totally delicious! We climbed back in the boats and headed back down the river. After a few more excellent rapids, we made our way to another rocky beach and all climbed out of out rafts. We showered and dried off (I loved that they provided towels!) and all loaded back up into our vans. We then drove about 30 minutes back toward the town of La Fortuna to a little treasure called La Casona for lunch.
The day was already great, but this portion of the tour, we were not expecting and turned out to be a highlight for us! It is the country estate of a former Costa Rican president and is a totally authentic Costa Rican experience. We were greeted with little shots of home-made moonshine with fresh tropical fruit that was yummy. Hola! We then headed over to a full buffet of totally traditional home-cooked Costa Rican food (on wood burning stoves I might add). I didn't realize how hungry I was but I devoured every bite on my plate. While we ate we sat on a large deck that overlooked another amazing river and grazing horses and watched dozens of colorful tropical birds coming to eat from the feeders nearby. We also really enjoyed getting to know our fellow rafters. It was all just magical.
After lunch we were treated to little pieces of cajeta (which I liken to Costa Rican fudge) and fresh made coffee and more little shots of home-made coffee liquor. It was so fulfilling after the rafting. The icing on the cake was after that we got to go and see how sugar cane was pressed and taste fresh cane juice. It was really authentic from beginning to end and we thoroughly enjoyed the last part of the tour!
Now, I would be lying if I told you that I wasn't beginning to desperately miss the little one at this point in the day. The whole day was very busy and kept my mind off the fact that we had left her. But I wasn't sure what we would find when we got home and if she would ever forgive us... We were pleasantly surprised when we walked in and she barely looked up from what she was doing. Once she realized we were there, she proudly presented us with a beautiful bottle she had made. I would say the day was a total success as we all went home happy and exhausted. Thanks Desafio!
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