The big date marked on our calendar – literally marked with text and drawings – is September 3rd, the first day of school for Camille at Del Mar Academy in Nosara. We arrived here with 2-and-a-half weeks of down time before school started, and I had visions of filling those weeks with all kinds of jungle adventures – zip line tours, horseback riding, kayaking the rivers, ATV tours, surf lessons, etc. I knew if we didn’t stay busy, those 2.5 weeks could seem long to our Camille, with no buddies and no playdates.
But as we discovered ( and really, I should’ve realized), all those fun excursions come with big price tags. If we were just vacationing here for 2 weeks, then I could justify spending some travel dollars on adventures, knowing it would be our only opportunity. But living here is different – I’ve got to pace myself. I have groceries to buy. Rent to pay. Work to do.
So other than the horseback riding tour and a round of mini-golf, we’ve not done any other paid excursions. We’ve filled our days with the pool and the beach, with art projects and books and games. At first, it was going really well, but after about 10 days of family togetherness, Camille ran out of steam. She needed a playmate that wasn’t mama or daddy.
So I took a risk and put a post up on the local community Facebook page: we are new to town and looking for friends – did anyone want to play?
I say it was a risk, because I didn’t want to sound desperate. I hoped someone would reply, but what if the post just got bumped further and further down the page with no responses? With a virtual roll of the Facebook eye? “Another needy gringo family. Another helicopter mom.” It was a risk to my ego, I suppose.
But thankfully, by the next day I had a couple of positive responses and began exchanging private messages with other moms. Eventually, a playdate was scheduled to hike to a nearby waterfall where the kids could swim.
Score! This was one of the paid excursions I’d considered – a waterfall tour. Now I had the chance to go with locals, and with KIDS!
We met up with two other families and caravanned to the trail head. The rocky road bumped and jerked back through the residential Tico part of town and then into farmland. Abruptly we pulled off the side of the road and parked. Introductions were made, then we grabbed our backpacks and began by squeezing between two very narrow posts interrupting a barbed wire fence (suck it in, ladies!).
And just like that, the kids were off. They scampered ahead of us, a group of heads bobbing in the distance, and my heart became light. This is what she needed – what I needed. She needed a crew. A gang of nature nerds.
The trail took us through pasture land, and then to a rocky riverbed where we balanced on the slick rocks in ankle deep water. We stopped when the kids spotted a turtle, and we could hear howler monkeys in the trees around us.
The hike was relatively short, and then the waterfall came into view. I’ve been told that Nosara is experiencing a drought. Even though we get evening rains, the area usually gets much more than this during the rainy season. The locals were shocked at how small the waterfall was, but the kids could’ve cared less. The pool was deep enough for them to scramble up the rocks and jump in, so they did.
One of the younger girls remarked that only kids and daddies would jump off the rock ledge, so naturally I had to jump too. Couldn’t have the child thinking that we were a bunch of scaredy-moms.
It was exactly what I had pictured when I imagined our time here – out in the jungle, with new friends from all over, being adventurous. It was a good day.
The next day we had a swim playdate at the home of another family who’d responded to my Facebook post. They were new to town too – arrived almost exactly when we did – and have a daughter Camille’s age. They seemed as happy to have company as we were. At first, the girls swam around each other, stealing wary glances. But then, the ice was broken when the new friend wanted to show Camille how to pick and cut a star fruit from their tree. They sat eating very sour star fruit and talking, and by the end of the playdate Camille was referring to her as a new BFF.
Camille isn’t the only one needing friends. I am a social creature for sure, and have been missing my tribe. It was great to have a few playdates – not just for Camille, but for my sake too. I’m looking forward to more, and hopefully sooner rather than later.
School starts Thursday, and I feel it has the potential to become the social hub of our time here. Not that I’m counting down the days or anything. (Is it Thursday yet?)