Why Central America? It’s hard to say. It just seemed to fit. We want the kids to spend time in a place that is utterly unlike where they’ve grown up. We want to avoid spending a small fortune. We want to escape late winter in New England, when the fire in the wood stove has lost its charm and the gray remains of the snow refuses to melt and every time a kid steps inside she tracks mud all over the house. We want the kids to have a chance to pick up some foreign language skills. We want to see volcanoes and monkeys and cloud forests and go ziplining through the forest canopy. (Possibly not all of us want that last part. Remember how Bob feels about heights.)
I’ve been reading a lot of travel blogs lately. Some provide poetic musings on the wonders of the world, some provide nitty-gritty logistical details, some provide lots of self-promotion and not much else. But collectively, they have provided me with something much more valuable — a sense of possibility. Lots of people out there have done and are doing things that are much crazier than what we’re planning! When you read about someone sailing across the ocean with toddlers, or trekking the Himalaya with their triplets strapped to their back, the idea of spending a few months in Central America is barely a blip on the radar. (This is probably scant comfort to my mother, who not for nothing has at times been called the Mother of Doom.)
Why now? Well, the older the kids get, we figure the harder it will be to extract them from school and activities and friends. We have some degree of confidence that we can manage to teach 7th grade math and science, but once we get into the realm of high school all bets would be off. (Yes, this is in spite of my degree in physics, which has essentially become a repressed memory.) They WANT to go now, and we don’t know how much longer we can bank on that either.
And beyond all that, I think we need a break. I need a break from the job that I’ve been going to for most of the last twenty years — a job that I mostly like, but that has begun to wear a bit lately. I think Bob could use a break from the responsibilities of the house and trying to decide what’s for dinner and figuring out how to get all three kids to different locations at the same time. And, although they might not realize it, I think the kids will benefit from a break too — a break from our whirlwind days of school and sports and clubs and homework and band practice. It’s all good stuff, but we’re finding it increasingly difficult to maintain a balance between all the wonderful opportunities that surround us, and taking time to just be. I’m hoping some time away from it all will give us some perspective on what truly adds value to our lives, and what is just a distraction.
For the next few months, we’ll be writing about our preparations for our trip and any other adventures that happen along. Stay tuned to weigh in on our itinerary, help us decide what to pack, and send along your sympathies when vaccination day comes along. (If you’ve been to Central America, we’d love to hear from you!) Thanks for coming along for the ride.