A Surprise Family Vacation to Costa Rica
FOR ONE CLOSE-KNIT FAMILY, A SURPRISE VACATION LED TO MORE DISCOVERIES THAN THEY EVER COULD HAVE IMAGINED.
It’s Saturday morning and the Blumenfeld family is at home in San Diego, paging through a photo album of their vacation to Costa Rica with Classic Journeys in December, 2010. Evan and Elliana sit with their mom and dad, Tina and Vince. Oldest son, Jack, is on the phone from across the country in Syracuse, where he’s recently started his freshman year of college.
Evan points to a photo of the kids singing karaoke. “Hey Mom, remember this?” he says.
“Of course. How could I forget? The kids all had their iPods and a microphone and all of them, even the shy ones, took turns singing karaoke,” she says. “We called it Costa Rica Idol. They really got into it.”
Spend 6 days and 5 nights having fun and making memories together on a Costa Rica Family Journey, our most popular eco-tour. The trip was a surprise gift from Tina and Vince to their children. On Christmas morning, Jack, Evan and Elliana opened an envelope addressed to them and learned that the family would be leaving the next morning for a weeklong vacation in Costa Rica.
“It was really exciting and also a bit of a shock to realize that we’d be leaving the next day for a big trip,” Jack says. “We all immediately started packing.”
“Thankfully Classic Journeys gave us a very specific packing list, which made it really easy to pull it together and get out the door the next day,” Tina adds. “It was also exciting to know there were going to be other kids of similar ages as mine on the trip.”
When Tina asks about the kids’ favorite memories from the vacation, their responses have a similar effect as looking through the family album—a bigger picture revealed through singular moments in time.
“I loved the beach, but the whitewater rafting really made it for me,” Evan says. “I remember the guide got out of the boat at one point, ran up a cliff and did a backflip into the water. It was crazy.”
“Zip-lining was my favorite,” says Elliana, who also mentions visiting an animal sanctuary where butterflies flitted and landed all over her head and arms.
Jack enjoyed a special birthday dinner—he turned 15 on the trip—in a restaurant at the base of Arenal Volcano, with views of glowing lava from the table. He also recalls the guides encouraging him to ask a girl to dance on New Year’s Eve, just before the big fireworks display.
Tina mentions the time Kenneth, their head guide, arranged a soccer game between the Classic Journeys teams and a group of local kids, where Elliana scored the winning goal. She also recounts sampling raw sugar cane and fresh cow’s milk on an organic farm, hiking to the volcano, and delivering supplies to a local grammar school.
The family also fondly remembers many competitive games of Rummikub in the evenings, as well as relaxing swims in the resort pool after an active day, where the kids would order virgin Piña Coladas from the swim-up bar.
“Bored was not a thing on this trip,” Jack says. “There was always something new to do, look forward to or learn about.”
“It wasn’t just the Christmas morning surprise. Classic Journeys kept the surprises coming the whole trip,” Tina says. “Something as simple as having pizza one night—the kids were dying for pizza—or finding out that we were going whitewater rafting.”
The family also found it is easier to relax and go with the flow while traveling with a small group and not having to worry about the logistics of keeping up with an itinerary. Splitting the week between two resorts—one in the rain forest and one on the beach—with just one transfer also added to everyone’s enjoyment.
“We lead really busy lives,” Jack says. “We’re theater people. We’re athletes. We’re always doing something. So it’s nice to go on trips like this and just slow down and be together.”
Back in the swing of their daily lives and several years removed from their Costa Rica vacation, the special memories of time spent together still remain. Even the name of the beach resort where they stayed—Si, Como No Resort, Spa and Wildlife Refuge—has a special place in family lore.
“We still say it now,” says Evan.
Translated to English, it means, “Yes, why not?”