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Walking down to the beach in San Carlos

(This post belongs to a series, "Crossing Borders"- Family Road Trip to Costa Rica)

We'd crossed the border into Mexico just the day before. Anxious to have the experience we'd envisioned - white beaches, sand, sun - we make a beeline to the beach resort town of San Carlos, MX.

We love this hotel!

The long day of travel resulted in a late arrival. It is past dark, and we check three hotels before we find a vacancy at the MarinaTerra.

Our room is spacious and opens directly onto a large lap size pool that glows an electric blue in the surrounding darkness.

There's a small playground that the kids are overly-joyed to take advantage of, despite the late hour.

I love dancing and I'm super stoked about the on site discotheque that teaches salsa and mamba lessons. They open at 11:00 pm, and I figure we could sneak down once the kids are in bed.

However, bedtime takes a lot longer than I anticipated. The kids are wired, and a little grumpy after a long day. I fall asleep while they still wiggle and play in their beds. So much for the dance party.

My sleep is restless due to the tile floors and a room that is directly off the lobby and main corridor. Every step, every door close, every voice is amplified off porcelain like an echo through a canyon.

What Did You Expect?

The meticulous hotel grounds

The next morning I'm up early. I grab a bite, then then my camera, and throw on my running shoes.

It's my first look at San Carlos in the daylight. The Mexico sun shines brilliantly and the temperature is perfectly mild.

The resort is well kept, meticulously groomed. Houses, rabbits, and large-nosed faces adorn the grounds, pruned from sizable shrubs and trees and complimented by flowering bushes.

Directly behind the pool deck is a marina.  A sea of mainmasts rock gently to the rhythm of the rolling ocean. Behind them towers a rocky cliff topped with luxury homes with incomparable vistas.

The San Carlos Marina

I'm eager to see the beach. A major part of 'living our dream' includes beach time. Lots and lots of beach time.

White sand, clear water - this is what we're after. We've been envisioning it for months. It's what drove us to San Carlos, our first beach town on our first stop on the adventure of a lifetime.

I jog down a path bordered with bushes that have flowers so brilliant they hurt my eyes.

Passing the MarinaTerra Beach Club's swimming pool and restaurant, I approach the beach.

It's a major disappointment.

Consisting mostly of large black lava rock, the only bit of sand was apparently transplanted by the Beach Club. What a let down.

I had created a vision in my mind of what I wanted to see when I arrived. When the reality failed to live up to my expectations, disappointment followed.


"The traveler sees what he sees.
The tourist sees what he has come to see."

~G.K. Chesterton

See What I Can See

I sit down on a black, porous lava rock, determined to appreciate the picture before me.

Sun-shiney path to the beach

The beachfront is in a cozy protected cove with a large, jet black outcropping in the center. Seagulls soar above and direct my vision upward to the skyscraping cliffs to my right.

The water is a deep ocean blue that reflects the suns rays. The scene is beautiful, the moment peaceful.

I want to share it with my family.

Returning to our room, we manage to make ready our little bunch and herd them to the beach.

My husband experiences my initial disappointment. Our children, unencumbered by expectations, are enamored by what they find.

Exploring tide pools and rocky crevices, we search for a 'big seashell' and discover stingray, a dead fish and hermit crabs.

Blissfully unencumbered

The baby sleeps peacefully on a blanket in the sand. Daddy takes a dip in the refreshing water. The boys dig contentedly in the replanted sand, unconcerned with the lack of genuineness.

As all peaceful moments with children do, this one comes to an end.

Kyah cuts her leg on a rock, and we return to the hotel's swimming pool to escape the stinging saltwater.

Soon we pack up and depart, eager to get on the road and continue our road trip.

We had arrived at San Carlos in the dark. Leaving in the daylight, we pass the hotels that promised 'no vacancy' the night before. Their frontage is lengthy stretches of beautiful golden sand.

Not wanting to waste the 'happy traveling children' moment, we opt not to stop. Now we know better to arrive during daylight hours.

(This post belongs to a series, "Crossing Borders"- Family Road Trip to Costa Rica)

Have you ever been disappointed because your experience wasn't what you expected?



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