Harlem residents Ronald and Esther set off for Central America with their children: ‘a great adventure’

Harlem residents Ronald and Esther set off for Central America with their children: ‘a great adventure’

Both Esther and Ronald, 45, were very happy in Harlem. But they are both eager to travel and soon set off on an adventure. On September 1, 2022, they take a big step with their children, Lou (8) and Lena (6): they move to Central America for a year.

First they traveled through Mexico and Guatemala for two months and now live in Costa Rica for nine months. “We wanted to be outside more, feel connected to nature and live in a warm climate.”

Outdoor life

In Harlem, the family notices the passage of time. Esther: “Where we lived in Harlem, it wasn’t very green. We lived between concrete and heavy traffic. We wanted Lou and Lena to enjoy the outdoors with lots of animals and have lots of time with each other.


Esther and Ronald have already had many great trips. Esther: “After graduation I traveled through Latin America for a year. Ronald also traveled a lot through Central America before we knew each other.

Even when they had their son, the journey continued. “When Lou was 1.5 years old, we went on a camping trip through Australia for six weeks,” she enthuses.

Esther and Ronald wanted to go on a big family trip. This time with daughter Lena. “Now that our kids are young, they still want to go out with us,” she says with a laugh.

dark cloud

As they made their travel plans, everything seemed to be going well. As both Esther and Ronald’s parents were still healthy, the couple had no responsibilities at home. They were looking forward to their big adventure until they got some very bad news.

At the end of 2021, Esther’s father passed away. A great loss, it created great doubt in going on a journey. Esther: “We took a road trip through Morocco during the Fall 2021 holidays. My father took us to the airport and would take us back. But he could not come due to ill health. After a while he found out he had cancer,” he says.

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“He passed away eight weeks later, on Boxing Day.” There was much grief and Esther and Ronald did not want to leave their family. However, they eventually decided to go. “My father always understood my passion for adventure and travel, I think. He was very kind to us and wanted to visit us.

Wake up in a tropical garden

The couple has been on the road for quite some time now and they are thoroughly enjoying the adventure. Ronald: “It is Throughout life Here in Costa Rica,” he enthuses. “Life starts early here and it’s amazing to wake up every day to beautiful light in a huge tropical garden with mango and banana trees, iguanas, gotis and hummingbirds. As we go to sleep we hear the sound of crickets and in the morning we often wake up to the sound of howler monkeys.

Spanish language

Lou and Lena go to an international school. Ronald: “I kept working so we couldn’t travel and be on the road. We wanted to live in one place for a long time.

It wasn’t hard for Esther and Ronald. But their children took some getting used to at first. “Lou and Lena are only children from the Netherlands and don’t speak the language.” Things are going much better now, says Ronald. “Lou and Lena are both taught in English and Spanish. It’s really fun to see how they develop. The schools there are very different from the ones in Harlem,” he says. “There are no walls and windows, and there are often monkeys in the trees around the school.” He laughs: ” Snakes have also appeared a few times, but luckily they were quickly removed!”

Works remotely

Ronald works remotely. It’s easier if the power isn’t cut off. Ronald: “I’m busy Custom furniture panels Inside Custom furniture Landgoed Elswout is inspired by a country garden. I work more hours than in the Netherlands, but it is completely different. I work outside and bathe in the pool in between. Esther and I regularly have lunch at the beach.

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Esther is not currently working and has chosen a sabbatical. “I have been working as a community lawyer for over 17 years and wanted to get away from it. I often go to yoga, walk a lot and help with Spanish lessons at school several afternoons a week.

This adventure could not have continued without the help and understanding of colleagues. “We are very grateful to everyone for that.”

Simple life

Ronald and Esther enjoy peace and freedom there. Esther: “Life is simple here. We have fewer appointments and fewer supplies. There’s not much here, but that’s all we need. In the Netherlands it is often urgent. Life here is very slow. There is more time for spontaneous conversations and meetings.

Crossing animals

The family now resides in Playa Samara, Costa Rica Blue zone: Living area for centuries. Esther: “This is a small village on the Pacific coast. No traffic lights, no traffic jams. But we often stop to cross horses, cows and iguanas,” he says. “The bay is beautiful, there’s a reef in front, so there are usually perfect waves. You also have beautiful starry skies here.

Upon arrival in Costa Rica the family usually did a Dutch one. “We bought bicycles right away, and we can cycle to school here like in Harlem. It’s great. It’s only a five-minute bike ride to the beach.

Find sea snails and catch crabs

Esther: “Lou and Lena sometimes miss their family, friends and toys at home. But they are very happy here, we notice. They can enjoy themselves for hours here with plenty of space and all that nature has to offer. They swim, bodyboard, play beach soccer, ride horses and play hide and seek with their new friends. Lou says he wanted to be a biologist and identified all kinds of frogs and birds – much faster than we do now. And although Lena didn’t like it at first, her favorite school lunch is now rice with beans and chicken,” he says with a smile.

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New memories

Many of the family’s friends and family love doing this. Esther: “They say it applies to us. Lou and Lena’s elementary school in Harlem also responded enthusiastically and cooperated fully. Still, not everyone was immediately enthusiastic about their adventure, says Esther. “My mother and sister wondered: What are you doing to your children?”

But now their families are enjoying their adventure to the fullest. “We went to Nicaragua with the family for a few weeks during the Christmas holidays – exactly one year after my father died. My mother-in-law is gone for two weeks and my mother will soon be back for three weeks.

It’s worth it

The arrangements for the trip were somewhat disappointing. Ronald: “Cleaning and renting your house, arranging work and school affairs, checking insurance: it was a lot of work. Of course this also has financial consequences. But Esther and Ronald finish with a broad smile: “It was worth it in the end. We will never regret not doing it now! “

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