On Sundays we like to get out of town. If we don’t get out of town, my kids start asking to go to the mall. The mall on Sunday makes me feel like a loser. Really, the mall, as a Sunday outing, depresses me. Luckily for me, my kids are still young enough that they can be f
orced tricked persuaded into adventure.
On Saturday, I told the girls that we would be climbing a mountain, and then going to the beach (without the the promise of the beach it’s unlikely I’d get them up the mountain). I told them we’d have to leave earlyish, and that they could sleep in their hiking clothes and eat breakfast in the car. In this way, we managed to leave the house by nine without whining or complaints.
The morning was lovely; the kids were content. The start of a road trip always makes me feel so good, and really, it was very satisfying to have gotten everyone out of the house so effortlessly.
We were headed to a national park called Altos de Campana. This park is an hour's drive out of the city. We arrived just after ten and met some birders on their way out. Those birders were probably grateful that we (chattering children in tow) are earlyish, rather than early on Sundays.
The park has a few different trails, and we had hiked the short Podocarpus trail in December, when it was much too wet to attempt anything steep. This time we planned to hike "La Cruz," a trail that goes up to a cross on a rocky peak. The, not very informative map, said it was an hour's hike.
The trail is quite steep, but totally manageable. The temperature was cool and comfortable for hiking.
Everything went very well until we came to a fork in the trail. There was no fork in the trail on the map. What to do? Continue straight up, or head down a washed out path with some broken and bent handrails? We decided to continue up; it seemed to us that if we were going to the top, we needed to go up. The trail got steeper and muddier.
After about fifteen minutes of climbing, we got to the top. There was no cross, and the view was through the trees, and worst of all, it was very wet. This was not the great picnic spot we all had been imagining. We took a few pictures and turned around.
So, as you may know, going down, is a lot harder than going up a steep, muddy, mountain trail. After my daughter slipped flat on her butt the second time, she started to scream. Not crying, although there was that too, but unrestrained, furious screaming.
"I hate you! I hate this! You are the worst parents!"
She totally lost it. Now, I'm not a stupid or mean person, but my reaction to her was not exemplary. I pretty much bullied her down the mountain. Thank goodness her patient father was there, because I was not being very nice. Oddly, on this fraught stretch of trail we saw some kind of trogon (really, the only wildlife we saw).
We arrived back at the fork in the trail. It was reasonably dry and flat so we set out our picnic. We had sandwiches and apples and rocky road bars. I thought the marshmallows would make the nuts more appealing to my seven-year old (totally wrong about that).
As we finished eating I noticed my recently crying daughter smiling contentedly. Yeah, she's a gangly, growing, eleven-year-old girl WHO NEEDS TO EAT! sometimes I am so thick. The whole tantrum on the trail situation could have been averted with a cookie.
Suddenly some hikers popped up from the descending trail and sure enough, that was the trail to "la Cruz." Well now we know for next time (I didn't even try to make them keep going--even though I would have liked to).
We headed back to the car and on to the beach. We went to Playa Santa Clara. There are other beaches that are nearer, but this is where we usually go. We take the public entrance at Las Sirenas. It's not too busy at that end of the beach, but you need to bring your own shade and provisions.
We had an excellent afternoon messing around. Apart from a couple of entitled jerks on quads, it was an idyllic afternoon. Way better than the mall!