Literally. We spent two weeks in Costa Rica for spring vacation, and discovered an amazing little country. When time permits I will put up a ton of photos on Picasa with comments (which doubles as my travel journal).
We had a great tour organized by Wildland; while Lidia and I are confirmed and avid backpackers we decided that with two kids in tow, no time to plan, and an enormous number of national parks we would just sit back and let the experts do it.
The experts responded with canyoning, nature hikes, white water rafting, river exploration, scuba, a night hike to study bugs, mountain biking on a volcano... great stuff. What is funny, though, is that one of the most memorable experiences happened off-itinerary.
It was our last day, and we had wandered into San Jose to see a museum and to actually see what the people are like, because until then pretty much all the locals that we had seen were covered with fur and lived in trees. We knew the wildlife better than the Ticos (with the exception of our excellent guide, Charlie).
On the way back to our hotel, and thence the airport, we wanted to stop and buy a soccer shirt of the national star, Centeno, for Louis.
Note: When traveling in third world countries, having a cute kid who wears t-shirts of famous soccer stars is just an awesome ice-breaker.
So our taxi driver drives us to the stadium where Centeno's team, C.D. Saprissa, trains, and asks around to see if we can buy a t-shirt. Suddenly they are swinging open the big metal doors, and we are driving in. The driver parks under these enormous cement bleachers, gets out, and starts talking. One of the team stars comes over and shakes our hands, then starts chattering at everybody. Within a few minutes he has a t-shirt for Louis, has signed it, and is corralling all the other members of the team to do the same thing. Somebody gets called over from the snack counter to sign it. The guys who are driving out of the stadium after practice get stopped, they sign the shirt, and so on.
Pretty soon Louis is standing there with a foolish look on his face, holding a shirt that has been signed by a dozen players from the best football club in all of Central America (they won the CONCACAF Champions' Cup in '93, '95, and '05).
And all because we happened across the right taxi driver. Pure travel serendipity.