Museo de Los Ninos – Costa Rica’s Children’s Museum

Day 5: We had a BLAST today!!!  But getting to the fun was not as fun as usual.  We drove through a very dirty, scary part of downtown San Jose.  I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised but more prepared, since the museum itself used to be the Central Penitentiary of Costa Rica.  It is a beautifully refurbished building now but it is still surrounded by shacks stacked one on top of the other.  And garbage, oh the garbage!  Just thrown everywhere.  Boy my kids are seeing a part of the “real world”.

I didn’t take this picture, but this is exactly what we saw on every street, in this part of downtown San Jose.

But onto better details.  After the journey through the grimy part of town, we arrived at the museum.

Museo de los Ninos

This is where I turned into the “dumb American, non-Spanish speaking tourist”.  As we arrived, I walked by an outside wall of the building that had a short set of stairs that led to a window with bars on the inside with an awning above it.  I thought it was strange and didn’t even want to walk up to it.  What if it was some private hole they used to use for the prison in the past and now it is the “stupid tourist trap”.  I could just see it, everyone standing around, laughing and pointing at the stupid white lady with 4 kids, talking to a hole that was used for prisoners.  NO THANK YOU!  But because I don’t know Spanish, I couldn’t read the sign that read BOLETERIA (TICKETS) below the awning.

So, I do the next best thing.  I just walk into the building with my 4 kiddos trailing me.  Of course I am stopped and spoken to in very fast paced Spanish and I can’t understand a word.  Finally a VERY NICE young man, and employee, walks up and speaks to me in English.  HALLELUJAH!  He says, “tickets?”  I say the only word I know by heart, “Si!”  He takes us back outside and shows me the dumb hole in the wall with bars.

  When I was there, there was no one else outside.  I would have “known” what to do if I saw this!

Now I REALLY look like the dumb tourist!  But I suck it up and walk up to “the wall”, with no one else in line by the way, and get tickets for me and my kids.  And yes, I am imagining people laughing at me at the same time.  Oh well!  You have to lose your pride to go on a trip like this one.  SERIOUSLY!

Now, you know I have been FREAKING OUT a lot about money down here.  Because . . .  (everyone join in). . .  “EVERYTHING IS SO EXPENSIVE HERE!”  But I have to say, I was shocked at the prices I paid today.

In Utah a trip to the Children’s Museum, which was a rarity for me, is so expensive.  I only go if I have a group rate or go with someone for free.  (yes, I am that cheap!)  But me and the kids had to get out of the house today and going to the museum was the only option.  I am still not ready to drive to the beach on my own.  But it has been raining all afternoon for 2 days straight and one more trip to the store was going to send me over the edge.

I knew going to a museum todaywould cost me money but I hoped it would only cost me around $20 to get in.  But I was shocked and DELIGHTFULLY surprised that it only came to 4300 colones.  That is just . . . wait, let me help YOU figure it out.  This is what I get to do ALL DAY, every day!!

Money in Costa Rica

Okay, how you convert colones to dollars is you first take the total and times it by two.  Then you move the decimal place to the left 3 places.  Example:  4300 x 2 = 8600. 8600 = $8.600.  So, I spent ONLY $8.60 for an ENTIRE day at the museum for 4 kids and a mom.  Pretty cool huh!

Now, I have to be honest, I don’t love the museum in Utah.  I really don’t.  And I definately feel what they charge us is a rip off.  So, paying $8.60 for this museum was a total surprise.  But then I braced myself for a lame experience.  It had to be for such a low price to get in.   Right?  That is why I took so many pictures in the beginning.  I thought that the “fun” was going to be over any minute.

   My favorite photo of the day.  E, K & L saying “Hi!”
But I was wrong, SO WRONG!  They had a list of over 30 different things to do in the museum and they meant it.  It wasn’t just a science fair of sorts, you know, posters or signs with pictures trying to teach you something new.  The museum had 30+ rooms FILLED with props, interactive equipment, colorful/detailed signs and plenty of employees to lead you in your discovery.  It was so hands on I was just floored with amazement.  
We got there at 10 a.m. and didn’t leave until 3 p.m.  We even took our sack lunch in and ate it at their public commissary.  So cool!  I was planning on only staying an hour or two and taking the kids to a park for lunch and to “play”, but that wasn’t needed.  This place was AWESOME!  I wish I could wrap it up in my suitcase and bring it home to all of you.  Your children and grand-children would LOVE it here!
Here are a few of my favorite moments today:

Making Costa Rican soup

Digging outside, looking for artifacts from the Pre-Columbia era.
My third child, the “comedian”, being silly!
My oldest looking like a missionary.  Crazy, only 7 more years?!
K flying a plane and posing for a photo, what a talented girl!
Ooops!  I guess you shouldn’t POSE and FLY!
Our FAVORITE room of all –  the Supermarket.  Each child was given 5000 colones ($10.00) to buy 5 items.  They were all so cute.  They each chose something from each food group.  I was a proud Mama Bear in that moment.  I got to SEE what I have been teaching them and they were so proud to show me!  Maybe they will be ready to be on their own one day?
Last, but not least, OUR caboose on a caboose with her 3 older siblings.  All in age order of course!
Well, from the size of today’s entry, I hope you can feel the amount of fun we had today.  It was A LOT!  I am so grateful today happened for our family.  Even though the drive is not my favorite and the museum is in a part of town I wouldn’t normally visit,  we are now planning to visit the museum  once every week.  This is such a special surprise for us all!  We have something to look forward to every week.  Thanks Heavenly Father, this was a WONDERFUL GIFT and a WONDERFUL DAY!


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