A few weeks ago my husband and I went away for the weekend, just by ourselves. I think I can count on one hand the number of times that we have left our children and had a weekend getaway. We have been in full time ministry for the last 20 years and we’ve been parents for more than 17 of those years. Weekend getaways have been few and far between. But this year we started the year with putting two dates on the calendar before any others. We blocked out a week vacation for a “stay-cation” at the end of summer and we blocked out a weekend away just for us.
We chose a new location to explore on our getaway. We took the very, VERY bumpy and long road up to Monteverde Cloud Forest. As we climbed up and up the mountainous dirt road separating the coastal highway from the high-altitude forest preserve, I enjoyed the scenery and the ever changing flora without the bickering of siblings and the tired, whining demands of children behind me. We played the music WE wanted to hear. We stopped and took pictures where WE wanted to stop. We bought and ate the gas station snacks that WE wanted to eat. It was lovely.
Up, up in the clouds it was cool and damp. It was the most Fall-like weather I’ve ever experienced in the tropics. This Minnesota girls who was starting to miss the seasonal changes got her “fall fix” and was happy. Our hotel was at the very end of the road, just before the entrance to the National Park. It was quiet up there. I liked that… a lot!
The little town of Santa Elena which services the tourists coming to the cloud forest was a kitschy little collection of souvenir shops, typical Costa Rican restaurants, and “Extreme” tourism offices. If Wisconsin Dells were transported to the Swiss Alps, that would describe Santa Elena and Monteverde. It was cute. After all, who doesn’t love “Reptile World” and souvenir magnets? We ate at an amazing restaurant built into a tree. We pretended that the Swiss Family Robinson had opened a restaurant in Costa Rica. The food was so tasty that we went back for dinner the next night too!
We decided to skip the zip lining adventure since we’ve done that a million times. And we didn’t pay to go into the National Park. It’s been our experience that animals pay no attention to the boundary lines of parks. They go where the food is, hence, where the people are. So we skipped that. We took a very disappointing night hike with an Israeli family who talked incessantly and loudly, successfully warning any animals of our presence. The best part about the night-hike was the gigantic tarantula we found in a dead tree stump. Note to self: if you’re ever lost in the jungle in the night, do NOT place your back against a dead tree unless you want to be instantly covered in prehistoric sized insects of all varieties.
But the absolute best part of the weekend was that I drove an ATV (4 wheeler) for the first time! Josh had gone before a few times, but it was my first time. I mainly agreed to do it for my husband’s sake. I was the only girl in the group. I was super nervous and cautious at first. But once I got the hang of it, I could keep up with the men no problem. And guess what. It was a BLAST! I was so proud of myself for learning to drive it and for being brave. I really enjoyed it and will definitely be doing that again!
We also spent plenty of time just reading quietly, examining birds through binoculars while sitting in our front window, and just being together… without kids! It was a wonderful weekend getaway. We came home feeling refreshed and ready for the next challenges that life and ministry would bring our way. We decided we need to do that more often. It was lovely.