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Last day in San Jose

Today was our last day in San Jose. The car is packed up and we are ready to head to the pacific coast tomorrow. Bring on the beach!

We visited the Herpetological Refuge this morning. It’s a rehabilitation park for crocodiles, a sloth, some monkeys and a pile of macaws. The kids enjoyed it. Nora liked the monkeys, Madeline liked the crocodiles and Charlie liked that I was terrified of the uncaged macaws that we had to walk past 1000 times.

We had an easy afternoon playing on the pool and on the trampoline before we went in search of some beach supplies. We spent the evening stuck in traffic trying to get to an enormous Walmart where they didn’t have a single beach toy but we did manage to snag some beach chairs and towels. The kids are a rotisserie chicken that I picked apart and handed into the backseat on the ride back home. We’re real classy like that.

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The wrong ice cream

Day one down. We relaxed this morning at our guesthouse. The kids played around for a few hours this morning with the toys they brought with them and we had a slow start to the day. The place we are staying is a guesthouse/horse farm/yoga studio on the side of a mountain (obviously) so after everyone was up and ready Charlie lead us on an exploration around our little area. We found the pool, the view and the stables. We quickly changed into our bathing suits and headed back to the pool after our arduous hike.

Nora had a great nap while the two older kids occupied themselves this afternoon. I read a book in the sunshine and we all just generally did nothing. After nap time we headed back in to Ciudad Colón to get our phones set up, have some ice cream and played at the park.

For dinner we ate at some taco hole in the wall where it all unraveled. Napkins went flying everywhere, no child ate any food and we learned that we had bought everyone the wrong ice cream three hours earlier and should now get more. We quickly packed up, headed home and put everyone to bed. It’s hard work being a small kid in a new country. Let’s hope we are able to salvage the “worst vacation ever” tomorrow.

Family Vacation 2019

I’ve had mixed feelings about this vacation since we booked it. We had shortlisted Colombia, Morocco and Costa Rica and if I’m honest CR was the least exciting for me. It has just never really hit my traveling radar. It’s a very beaten path which just generally turns me off. There was nothing about it that seemed unknown or exotic. Although, I suppose, in some ways it’s a prefect number 33. Plus Charlie really wants to see a volcano and apparently it’s not just about me.

Turns out though, easy was just what we needed to pull off this trip. While getting to Costa Rica is not nearly the excursion we normally set out on for a family vacation, it was enough after a month and a half of opening a shelter followed by a week of the flu which left us with about 48 hours to pack up and get ready.

As our first trip without a baby we are already seeing the light at the end of the luggage tunnel. We managed to pack ourselves into two carry on suitcases without having to stuff things into the playpen this time. We unfortunately still have the car seats but the bags also weren’t full of a bunch of stuff this time either. And this is the last trip we need to bring someone’s bed with us!

We had a relatively easy flight path. Charlottetown to Montreal with an overnight before heading to CR this morning. The kids all fell asleep without incident in the hotel room last night – three kids under 6 – that’s essentially a miracle. We were up and out at 520 this morning; a record for Charlie and timed our morning through the airport perfectly. The kids did incredibly on the flight, even Nora! 8 hours on a plane and no meltdowns or tears – miracle #2.

We got settled into our rather weird guesthouse just before sunset and much to Charlie’s disappointment ran out of time for a dip in the pool before nightfall. We headed into town to grab some pizza and cash (after we had to 🤷‍♀️🤷‍♂️🤦‍♀️🤦🏽‍♂️ our way through a toll earlier) and tucked everyone in for the night. Tomorrow calls for some pool time for the kids, some sun time for me and just a generally chill day.

The end.

It’s here. Our last day. In some ways I feel ready for our visit to be over. It’ll be nice to get back to routine, our space and our home people. In so many other ways I’m terribly sad it’s over. This place and these people are so special to me that it’s always difficult to say goodbye. Plus it’s winter at home and we all know how I feel about that.

For our last full day we headed to Boschendal in Franschhoek. It looked gorgeous, had a huge picnic lawn with bean bag chairs and plenty of trees, a playground and a splash area. The full package.

We had a great morning. The kids have gotten really cooperative leaving the house in the morning. Which is actually a really big deal for these kids who are the slowest moving humans in the world. We got settled in with our bean bags and lunch and the kids played on the playground. Nora fell asleep in the stroller. Jacob was collecting our wine when everything took a turn.

Charlie got stung by a wasp on his foot. We didn’t think too much of it at first really. We took some ice out of the wine bucket and put it on the sting site and all seemed to be fine. At Charlie’s request we packed up and headed for home skipping the splash area. And it was a good job we did. By the time we got everyone packed up and in the car his face had started swelling up. One of his eyes swelled completely shut and by the time we were home he had itchy lips and a slightly swollen tongue. I gave him some Benadryl, had a mild panic attack, researched the best hospital nearby and called Wendy to tell her we’d be late for dinner.

The Benadryl worked it’s magic and the swelling went down and so we headed to our final braai. We had a great last evening with our people. Saying goodbye was terrible as it always is. It will likely be a few years before we are back in SA so it felt particularly hard to leave them this time.

We rounded out our final morning with one last visit to the grocery store park and Doodles restaurant before heading to the airport and starting our trek home.

Middelvlei saves the day

Our time here is quickly coming to a close so we have been busy soaking up as much sun, summer, family time and wine (to help dull the pain) as possible.

Monday we came good on our last promise to Charlie and Madeline and headed back to the V&A waterfront to take a ride on the Cape Wheel. The Cape wheel is Cape town’s version of the big eye. The kids had a great time on it – they were more impressed than I thought they would be which is always a pleasant surprise. We even managed a hilarious family green screen photo to complete the day.

We had really been hoping for some more beach time but the winds have been outrageous so Tuesday we packed up and headed to wine country. Not a terrible plan B. We went in search of a wine farm that offered grape juice tasting for the kids alongside the wine tasting. We had read on a few blogs about Lourensford so we decided to check it out. It is in Somerset West which is a relatively unexplored area for us so we thought it would be fun to try something new. Unfortunately for us, they had discontinued the juice tasting and it was deadly hot in the play area. After a lot of crying Madeline cutting the bottom of her foot open we packed it in and headed to Middelvlei in hopes of saving the day.

Luckily we have air conditioning in the car and all three kids had a nap en route. With everyone cooled off and rested moods were significantly improved. I don’t know if it was Middlevlei itself or the naps or just a stroke of luck but we ended up having the greatest afternoon at the farm.

It is the cutest wine farm. You feel like you’ve been invited to someone’s house for the day. They have these picnic tables that overlook the vineyards and what should be a little pond (it now looks like a large puddle because of the drought). They have huge blocks for the kids to play with and a sandpit. Charlie Madeline and Nora had a blast. They played together the whole time we were there.

Middlevlei is also one of the wine farms that offer juice tastings for the kids and it did not disappoint. They did an adorable pairing of four juices with four candies. The kids loved it. To top it all off they have a little farm where you can feed a potbelly pig, goats and turtles. We were sad to have only had a couple of hours at this place.

Saved the best for last

Seriously, this weekend, swoon.

We kicked the weekend off Friday night at Nollie’s for an awesome braai. Nora fell asleep, the kids watched a ton of tv and Jacob and I got to kuier with our friends. We sat outside, enjoyed the heat, made a nice big fire had some drinks and finally ate.

Saturday we met up at Spier which was on just about every “best wine farms for families” list I came across They were all right. They have these gorgeous grounds littered with huge willow trees that surround a dam. They had a great play area tucked away at the back so we really just felt like we were in our own backyard. We collected our picnic basket, blanket and several bottles of wine and set up camp for the day.

Sunday we headed back to Melkbosstrand for an all day beach and braai at Janelie’s amazing house. By some incredible stroke of luck Madeline fell asleep on the couch, Nora went to sleep easily and I got to actually finish conversations and glasses of wine uninterrupted.

This weekend was the most relaxed I’ve been all trip. I so so so love these people here and it’s always so hard to believe we will have to say goodbye to them. This weekend makes it that much harder to leave, but it has given me so many beautiful memories to hold on to until next time.

Table Mountain

This is our fourth trip to South Africa and third to Cape Town and we still hadn’t been up Table Mountain. We fixed that on Friday.

When we lived in Korea with all these South Africans we heard a lot about table mountain and to be honest I never really understood the fascination. I thought it sounded nice and the pictures looked beautiful but how spectacular can a flat mountain be? Let me just say it lived up to its hype.

Table mountain is one of those things that you just end up staring at. It’s omnipresent; you can see it almost everywhere you go. The clouds seem to play on top of it. From Bloubergstrand it gives the impression that it’s an island but really the city surrounds it’s base.

We bought our tickets and got in line. It took quite a while to get through but that was probably just poor planning on our part as when we were leaving there was no line at all. The kids loved the cable car ride but found it quite windy at the top (which it was). We had some lunch did a little tour around the top and headed down.

I’m glad we finally made it up to the top of the mountain but I think to fully appreciate it one should hike either up or down or at the very least spend some time exploring at the top. Next time!