By Jacqueline Galdenzi
Twenty months ago I floated the idea of an extended family vacation to my siblings. I had learned of an all inclusive villa rental in Costa Rica that sounded amazing. After numerous emails, fifteen of us were serious about the idea. We ranged in age from 24-69; three of my siblings and assorted nieces, nephews and their spouses. This had the potential of some serious party time.
The appointed week finally arrived and we headed to our respective airports in Kentucky, Ontario, Virginia and here in Buffalo. Arriving in Costa Rica we were very dismayed to learn that the computer system at the airport was down and we had to stand in line for over two and a half hours until things were up and running again. My husband and I were at least thirty people ahead of my daughter and son-in-law, my son another forty or so behind them.
When you stand in line for that length of time, you get to know the people around you. When folks heard about our big family vacation plans and that our kids were in line behind us, they graciously insisted that the three be allowed to jump the queue and join us. Now anyone who has ever stood in a long line on a Black Friday knows that this is not the norm. The beautiful sunshine of Costa Rica was bringing out the best in people.
Finally we all met up at our incredible villa and the games began! We wined, we dined, we swam, we danced, we hiked, well, some of us hiked, not me, Costa Rica is VERY hilly. We played water volleyball, card games, corn hole, zip lined 1000 feet above the rain forest, visited an animal sanctuary where the sloths moved about as fast as we did in the heat of the day. We made friends with the local birds and iguanas who soon came to expect the food we offered. Iggy the iguana particularly enjoyed the cherries from my husband’s Manhattans. He may have gotten a little tipsy one afternoon. Iggy, not my husband, well him too actually.
One evening the villa manager brought in a local band to entertain us during dinner. We have a few wanna be entertainers in our family, most notably my daughter and my hubby. Thankfully the musicians were probably used to crazy North Americans and didn’t blink an eye when dear daughter took the mic to belt out a tune while her dad took over the Cajon drum. He followed that up with a rendition of ‘Have You Ever Seen the Rain’. Creedence Clearwater Revival needn’t fret. I couldn’t even pretend I didn’t know the two of them since it was all family! I tipped the band very well.
Although we partied all day, we were up at 7:30 each morning, sharing breakfast together with mimosas and Irish coffees and making plans for the day. This also explained why most of us called it a night by 9pm.
Our family is close. Not much goes on that we don’t all share, good or bad. But throughout the week as we shared three meals a day together as family, I had the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with each of my nieces and nephews.
I learned so much more about their hopes and dreams. I think they learned a lot about their aunts, uncles and parents as well.
We hope to do this again in the not too distant future. Now that the rest of the family has heard the stories and seen the pictures, I think we’ll have to rent a bigger place!
Jacqueline Galdenzi learned more about her already-close family on a joint vacation.