Since we arrived in Costa Rica, there have been ample crying fits, battles for control, and unexplained yet rightful hesitation on Zora's part. She doesn’t care about the volcano we want to see that’s a 4 hour drive away. She’s in full command of the words she’s actually able to command, and she’s all too familiar with “no” and “stop." She’s also not interested in trying signature foods or speaking in the native language. Hell, she may not even comprehend that we’re in a different country.
If nothing else, she certainly doesn’t know that this is a celebratory vacation that would be best experienced if she maintained a spirit of willingness — and if she does know, she’s made it very clear that she doesn’t care. Am I complaining? Clearly. I mean, duh. Sometimes a sister needs to vent about how bringing her toddler to a surprise birthday trip for her husband is annoying.
Friends and family have wondered why we don’t leave her behind when traveling. Though it's seemingly an easier option, I feel like it’s the least desirable choice. As a result, I’m currently enduring the onset of the supposedly “terrible twos.” As someone who didn’t go abroad until college, my first time being bitten by the travel bug required a hefty student loan that I’m still paying off. In exchange, I literally traveled the world. For one semester, I took classes on a ship all the while visiting 11 countries, spanning 4 continents. (If you're interested, check out Semester at Sea.)
Though most students aboard our “traveling university" came from wealthy families, I quickly realized that traveling is not a luxury only afforded to those who are well off. It’s a matter of making a series of decisions with intention. Furthermore, the things that I learned during that semester far outweigh the expenses paid. The various foods, fabrics, and people I encountered are noteworthy in their own right — not to mention the varying landscapes and my ever present awe at God’s handiwork.
Let’s talk numbers, though. There are discounted traveling websites that I check regularly. Hence, when I found roundtrip tickets that intersected with Chris’ birthday month for $300, I jumped on it. I’m not paying some stupid amount to stay in a luxury hotel that I don’t intend to utilize aside from sleeping and waking hours. That’s not real life. Not for me, anyway.. especially when I can find an AirBnB for half the price. So, I did just that and landed on a BEAUTIFUL 3 bedroom home for less than $100/night. It could have been cheaper had I not been looking for something picturesque to spoil the hubby. (If you aren’t familiar with AirBnB, treat yourself. Hell, tell them I sent you via this link, and treat us both.)
If you’ve yet to catch on, I’m a frugal person. You won’t catch me in an expensive outfit - unless it’s my wedding day, and even that’s being done differently next lifetime. I’m not interested in having a super fancy vehicle with an equally fancy car note. I don’t have a shoe fetish, gadget fetish, or any other fetish that may break the bank. I’m game for generic brands when grocery shopping and only wish I could get into coupon’ing — Chris probably does too since that’s why I subscribed to Washington Post, and it has consistently made it’s way to our recycling bin untouched.. but that’s neither here nor there. The point is that I’m intentional about where I spend my money, and I am willing to spend money on curating an experience.
Traveling abroad with my husband and daughter is legitimately a family goal manifested. I’ve always wanted to be the mom who wasn’t afraid to get dirty. Who played with their kids in the rain and didn’t have a fit when they ate something that fell on the floor. I wanted to show my child(ren) the world from the comfort of a carrier strapped to my back. I intend to be with Zora as she recognizes just how much occurs outside of the world she comes to know within a hundred mile radius. Never mind the beauty of so many cultures we only experience through the lens of Fox News and other outlets that project an image of poverty and disarray.
As with all things parenting, we’re figuring out what traveling with a little one looks like with time and experience as our guide. No less, we’re figuring it out. So, Zora’s standard won’t be some warped expectation of needing loads of cash to experience a world some only know in fractional doses. She’ll recognize that she is a small person within a large world and there are multiple ways of living, various standards of “normal,” and she is not obligated to subscribe to the one imposed by the country she was birthed in. That’s the vision I am steadily manifesting while toting this baby all over the place. Is it glitter and gold and cake walks and everything our Instagram pictures make it out to be? Not quite, but it’s exactly what I wanted for myself, so we’ll manage.