Day 43: the benefits of changing plans and our last week in Costa Rica

(Esterillo Este at 5.40am today)

Generally we are taught, and we learn, the value of persistence. Of determination. Of focus and staying set on a goal until it is reached.

We are taught, and we learn, that quitting doesn’t lead to the optimal outcomes and that it takes commitment to achieve something important.

Mostly this is true, whether in school, university, work and in relationships. It is an attitude and set of values which we hope our children practice.

Yet in travelling it is wrong, in my view. If you have the time and resources to change plans, and you want to change plans, then change them you should. Our time in Costa Rica has born this out.

The persistence narrative is pervasive. It is rare that you encounter anyone congratulating you for leaving early or stopping something, and perhaps we should be more open-minded about it or less focused on external opinions.

The only theory I can think of which celebrates quitting is the loss aversion work of the behavioural economists in terms of investing. The rationale goes that we hate losses so much that we hold onto poor investments too long as we just want to avoid crystallising the losses.

What’s that got to do with a family blog about travelling in Costa Rica?

It is because we have changed our plans 3 times in 4 weeks. The children think we are fussy and difficult and they may be right, but our decisions have had benefits. The girls are used (like most normal children!) to holidays where plans are set and stay in place.

Yet our changes have worked.

First we left St. Teresa on the southwest coast of the Nicoya Peninsula despite committing to hiring an ‘apartment’ for 2 weeks. We stayed 5 days and agreed to pay 50% of the remainder. That was annoying but we reduced our daily spending and went to Playa Samara which we liked and Nosara which we loved. What a great decision.

The girls under the Nosara sunset

Second we arrived at a hotel near the Arenal Volcano. It was remote with a terrible road, we were tied in for 3 days and we felt trapped. Luce calmly explained that we felt deceived, we wanted to leave and have our payment refunded. The owner was in Ireland. Not ideal. After our debut eviction from a hotel (“the owner will refund your money but she wants you to leave NOW!”) we scarpered. The volcano then hid behind amazing relentless rain for 36 hours and we headed south, gained a day and saved $500.

Running from the Arenal rain

Third, we had booked 4 days on the Carribbean coast near Puerto Viejo, close to the Panama border. Yet worried about the greater rain on the north coast, and keen to see the Manuel Antonio National Park, we decided not to go. Another good decision.


On that note it has been a lovely last week. Manuel Antonio was chocca with wildlife, notably the White-Fleshed Northern Hemisphere Tourist. The novelty was a beach where you could swim – our first in Costa Rica, as the others have had strong waves and currents. We loved it.

A hummingbird in Manuel Antonio National Park, sadly I didn’t note which type.

Playa Manuel Antonio

We found a wonderful hotel in Esterillo, 2 hours south of San Jose, and carried on surfing. Lola is now the best in the family, Lucy is standing up most of the time (“All of the time!” I can hear her say), I have hit a wall called the limits of my ability and Cesca, well, she is just taking a little break.


Tomorrow we leave for Mexico. The whole family is fixed on the World Cup and for the first time we watch sport as a family. Progress 😁.

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