We have been living in our little protected bubble since March. Usually by this time, we would have traveled several times with at least two trips to the U.S. In a way, the time has really helped us feel more rooted to our home. However, last week we realized that both AJC had the next Monday off of school and BC had a “day of rest” at work (yes, his company does one of those every month- they are awesome). We started to think it might be time to venture out on our first family trip since the quarantine. Most places are still closed until October or are renting rooms under the radar for a very steep fee. However, we found an amazing family owned boutique hotel, the Morrillo Beach Eco Resort. Morrillo is on the west side of the Azuero Peninsula. If you could fly with the crow, it probably wouldn’t take that long from Pedasi. However, a lack of roads and a national park separate us so we had to drive up the east side of the peninsula and then back down the west side. It took about four hours. The last hour and half was a brutal ride through a stretch of never ending potholes. However, it was all worth it once we arrived.
Morrillo is a beautiful beach surrounded by green mountains. The area is completely undeveloped and feels raw and undiscovered. In fact, Morrillo makes Pedasi feel cosmopolitan. It has a strong, powerful wave that is its main attraction. However, we discovered that there is so much more that makes it a worthy destination.
We were greeted at the Eco Resort by the friendliest hosts, Cari and Ryan. The welcomed us warmly and made us feel at home the entire time. Luckily we were the only guests (although the hotel has six rooms). Because our kids are so loud and wild, I am always nervous we are disturbing everyone else. However, this is probably the most child friendly hotel we have ever stayed. They brought out books, games, a scavenger hunt and even offered art supplies and beading materials. We had all of our meals at the hotel which featured a lot of homemade and local, organic fare. They are also a really good microbrewery! Seriously, could this place get any better?
The hotel sits on a river mouth adjoined to a sandy beach. After we arrived, we spent the first afternoon playing on the beach, swimming in the river, and helping the kids catch waves in the white water. We then returned to our room to find the most magical surprise. Our room was on the second floor of the hotel. The balcony was eye level with the tree tops. We were greeted by Azuero howler monkeys just a few feet away that were literally “talking” to us. We watched them play for a long time which never got old. I think they were just as curious about us. From our balcony we could also see several species of birds that we never see on our side of the peninsula. Cari and Ryan has put massive effort into reforesting their property (which like most of the region was deforested for cattle). They are now seeing the fruition (literally) of that effort as the tree canopy is quickly regrowing and native animals are returning to the area.
Our second day we embarked on a half day waterfall hike with Cari as our guide. She was so encouraging with the boys and used every opportunity to spark their curiosity and excitement. The boys learned about navigation, identifying different plants and fungi, maneuvering rock and rope climbing, and how to tell if it is safe to jump off the waterfalls. Under her guidance, the boys were braver than they have ever been exploring their surroundings. It was also the first time that they have jumped from a waterfall (usually they just nervously watch BC). Once they started, they didn’t want stop. They jumped countless times, pushed the boundaries of climbing higher, and were filled with joy.
It was hard to leave our newfound retreat. They boys kept saying, “I want to live here!” We eased the blow by promising to return and next time bring their friends. After not traveling for so long, we were really exhausted by the effort, but it was so worth it. We packed a lot of memory making into two days, and we found a little home away from home in Morrillo.