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Mother’s Day Travel: Step away from the camera

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This photo of a flower in a Costa Rican rainforest didn’t impress the photographer’s daughter, who had to wait for it to be taken. Spending time with each other and not with the camera is one way for travellers to better enjoy family vacation time. (Tricia Edgar/Vacay.ca)

Vacay.ca is running a series of articles from our writers about Mother’s Day and how travel can enhance relationships. We’d be delighted to hear about your favourite travel experience or photo that shows your appreciation of time spent with Mom or with your kids! Email us!

Story by Tricia Edgar
Vacay.ca Writer

You know what they say about pictures? Well, I have one that says 2,000 words.

I took it last year. It was a beautiful, spring-like day in Monteverde, Costa Rica. The sun was shining, the wind was moving gently through the trees, and we were in search of monkeys, my daughter and me. We were walking through the Children’s Eternal Rainforest during a trip to the cloud forests of Costa Rica.

In the centre of the picture is a flower. It’s a bright red flower, twisted and delicate, and it was waving right in front of me on the path, asking me to take its picture. The flower is crisp, clear, and gorgeous.

In the top corner of the picture is a child. She’s indistinct, but her hands are on her hips and you can tell that she’s mighty annoyed. That would be my then-five-year-old daughter, telling me what she thinks about the fact that I’m taking yet another picture of a flower.

What this photo, which you can see above, is telling me is very clear now, and it’s not a story about a flower.

Photos are so important. They can draw you back into the moment, bringing back the memory of a sunny day with the wind blowing gently through the trees and the crackling of branches, perhaps signaling the presence of the elusive monkeys. A photo can capture a child’s smile, a smile that will soon grow up and grow different. As parents, we feel an urgency behind the photo. We need to document, to tell our child’s story, because soon that moment will be gone.

What that photo tells me is that sometimes it is better to live and enjoy those moments rather than document them diligently.

MOTHER’S DAY TRAVEL STORIES

On a recent trip to Europe, I once again took to my camera, this time to photograph architecture rather than flowers. But all the while, I was restless. I was conscious that I was the storyteller. While I was moving into the moment, I was also outside it, telling the story that would be archived in my albums for years to come.

My daughter was there too, a six-year-old this time, but still equally annoyed with her mother’s penchant for photography.

But this trip was different. This time I was blessed with a camera that ate batteries. I would set up the perfect shot, much to my daughter’s chagrin. I would aim, I would focus, and I would get the low battery sign.

When this happened, I started to put the camera away. I realized that the camera, though lovely, was forcing me to see through the storyteller’s lens, when sometimes I just wanted to be living the story.

By putting the camera away, we were able to live in our adventure. Yes, there are no photos of the amazing meal my daughter and I had in the tiny Alsatian town of Turckheim. There aren’t any photos that recall the moment when we stopped during a walk through the vineyards and saw a delicate insect, purple-hued, pausing on an equally purple flower. And I certainly would not be able to capture the heat of that day or our joy at finding tiny towns over every hilltop. What I do remember is our connection, our shared delight in living during that moment.

That day, the camera stayed in my pocket, but the moments that flew by undocumented were even more valuable. Like the crashing of monkeys in the forest, the best things in life are ephemeral.