QCOSTARICA – A Lego that shapes a spaceship, another a ship, and one more a fire truck, is the last thing Tao, Dhara and Eric packed, respectively.
None of the three children – seven, six, and 3 – wanted to keep the gifts that the Santa brought them, not only because they liked them so much, but because they knew what that meant. However, there was no option: Rum-Rum, the camper in which they live and travel since 2018, was ready and the adventure they undertook from Madrid, Spain, with the purpose of touring America, had to continue.
Although that included sadness and nostalgia, they trust their parents, Marta Bruyel, and Daniel Gimeno, so they finally put away their new toys and settled into their motor home, knowing there was no going back, but with the hope of returning to the place they loved so much: Costa Rica.
Two weeks have passed since they enjoyed the Costa Rican beaches for the last time and the Spanish family is already settled in Nicaragua, a country where they arrived with the illusion of continuing to understand and learn about Latin American culture.
Like everyone else, the pandemic took Los Mundo (as they call themselves) by surprise, a Madrid family that has been traveling the world in a camper for three years.
When the first contagion appeared in the country, they had a month in Costa Rica, and although the initial idea was to leave Costa Rica between May and June 2020, Covid-19 forced them to extend their stay for almost a year.
Many Ticos already knew about Los Mundo, not only because they have dedicated themselves to sharing their journey on YouTube and Instagram, but because in September 2020 they told of their journey through Costa Rica in Revista Dominical. At that time they were full of uncertainty, they did not know when they would be able to resume their trip, or what was going to happen with the virus or the vaccine, but they felt calm knowing that they were on Costa Rican soil, a country that they never tire of thanking.
Many things have changed since then: they learned to surf, they witnessed the nesting of turtles, they suffered the attacks of Hurricane ETA while in Guanacaste, they spent Christmas and New Years on a lonely beach … and they became infected with covid-19.
“Despite the general pandemic framework that we had to live through, our experience was really very good in every way and we always feel very well treated by the Ticos. In addition, the children go by saying that Costa Rica is their favorite country and, in fact, when asked which one they liked the most, they do not hesitate to say that Costa Rica, because they learned from nature and that is that the country is a living school: we saw turtle spawning, bioluminescence, many animals and the children get very excited about that,” says Marta, from Nicaragua.
They also became fans of the “olla de carne” and the “gallo pinto”; they perfectly knew the meaning of words like ‘chiva’, ‘tuanis’ and ‘chunche’; while Eric, the youngest of the family, greeted people with ‘pura vida, mae’.
Los Mundo travel America aboard a second-hand Mitsubishi Fuso 4×4, which was made for two people, but which they adapted for all five. It has a table, gas stove, dishwasher, bathroom, shower, a sofa that turns into a bed and a cabin where the children sleep.
Because of its biodiversity and culture, Costa Rica is one of the countries that has surprised them the most; However, the biggest and most unexpected surprise in the national territory was presented in mid-December 2020 for Los Mundo.
That day Daniel began to feel sick and because of his symptoms they saw coming what they had avoided for so many months: Covid-19.
At first they believed that it was a simple cold, but the symptoms did not go away despite the days passing.
“We thought it was a cold or tonsillitis because no one else was sick, but as the days went by, Dani did not improve and had a fever, he was feeling sick, that’s when I told him that he had better go get a test because he looked like covid-19 and we went to a private hospital because we have medical insurance – although the truth would have been much better to have gone to a public one -, the fact is that they treated him, he was tested and he actually tested positive,” explains Marta.
On December 16, they received the health order, which forced them to stay in quarantine for the next 14 days. After receiving it, the first thing they did was call the people with whom they lived (in case they had symptoms) and later isolated themselves on Matapalo beach in Guanacaste, where they were alone and away from tourists who vacationed in the area.
After about five days, Daniel felt better and the fever was gone. However, by that time Marta began to experience excessive fatigue and muscle aches, but she left very soon. In the case of the children, all three were asymptomatic.
Therefore, they spent Christmas in quarantine, away from people but united as a family.
“Christmas Eve came and we were feeling better, so on the beach, we prepared dinner, we sang Christmas carols and that was our Christmas, very much with the family. Already by 7 pm, we were all sleeping as tired as we were,” said the children’s mother.
Despite covid-19 and quarantine, the children received their long-awaited Christmas gifts: Thao received animals, Dhara a baby and Erik a truck with carts. There was also a beach shirt for each, a book for each, and lots of chocolate.
During those days of quarantine, they did not need food either, as they had enough supplies inside their camper and they did not need to go out.
The Los Mundo do not know how they were infected. What they do know is that it was in Santa Teresa, in Puntarenas, because Daniel’s symptoms began just a couple of days after they returned to Guanacaste.
Daniel added that they had been with people, but they were few and knew who they were, and none of them had symptoms when contacted. “So we don’t know if maybe it was at the supermarket, or at the gas station, but we always go to those places with a mask and gel but I think that with this, if it touches you, it touches you; because if you are in contact with the virus in the end it is very difficult not to catch it. But the truth is that we have been with people, people who appear in the videos, but they are people who are counted,” he said.
New Year’s was also alone time with the family to avoid any possibility of contagion.
From Costa Rica they take with them the best memories and promise to be from now on the best ambassadors of what “pura vida” means, its people, and its natural beauty.
During their time in the country, which started on the border with Panama, they traveled through Osa, Puerto Viejo, San Carlos, Puntarenas and ended in Guanacaste. They saw volcanoes, animal shelters, learned to surf, drink coffee and got to know the most beautiful beaches in the country, among many other things.
They also met many Ticos who reached out to make their stay as welcoming in times of pandemic: many allowed them to stay in their properties, others invited them to taste their dishes and still, others gave them accommodation. There were those who approached them and asked for photographs and others who wrote to them on social networks so that they could visit their homes.
“Costa Rica is an amazing country in terms of nature and diversity, I mean that in a country that is so small you have everything. At the level of biodiversity, it is something that caught the visitor’s attention because you are continually seeing different, new flora and fauna, which changes depending on the place you go, but the best thing about Costa Rica is not all that, it is its people, the Ticos They are very hospitable, affectionate, I don’t know how to explain and describe how well they have treated us and how welcomed we have felt and we can only be grateful to everyone in Costa Rica,” added Marta.
In addition, they confess that they will miss buying products from the fishermen, since tuna is one of the family’s favorite dishes, especially the one they found in Cabuya and Malpaís.
And it is that Costa Rica was important for Los Mundo, not only because of the great knowledge acquired and hospitality in times of the pandemic, but also because their project on YouTube and social networks began to generate resources for them while in the country.
“For us it has been very important at a professional level because it has been here in Costa Rica where we have grown, where the YouTube channel has begun to generate monetization and give us money to continue this trip and that has been thanks to the support we have received from the guys who have been watching our videos week after week.
“When we made our first video of the quarantine in Costa Rica at the Los Héroes hotel, in San Carlos, that video went viral, made in Costa Rica, many people saw it and as a result of that they have been supporting us at all times, so for us Furthermore, it has been like our take-off at a professional level,” adds Marta.
Although the trip must continue for now, the Gimeno Bruyel family promises to return to visit all those Ticos who offered them their home and tasting dishes during their stay.
“Thank you for so much love received, we will always carry Costa Rica in our hearts and we will be the best ambassadors for this country. Keep it that way with all the travelers and tourists who visit you and I hope you continue to travel the world with us,” they say goodbye as they resume their journey.