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Getting far away


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Painful red ant bites, a stingray’s sting, sharing space with scorpions, crossing the path of a poisonous snake.

It’s all just part and parcel for a family determined to get away from it all.

Michael Palmer and his family of five had more than a few misadventures, like floating down a river in a golf cart during a flash flood, during an intentionally uprooting experience.

But the 44-year-old author with strong roots to P.E.I. is quick to pronounce life — make that a lengthy getaway — in a rain forest village of Nosara on the Pacific Coast a monumental success.

Almost one year ago, the Palmers — Michael and Catharine, and the couple’s children Andrew, 11, Ryan, 9, and Jenna, 8 — packed up for a Costa Rica trip with profound purpose.

The goal was to get away from the family’s fast-pace life in Calgary, allowing the clan to reconnect with one another.

“Going into it, the whole idea was to unplug,’’ says Palmer.

“It was a year of engagement — a lot of family experiences.’’

Their small, wooden home stood high above ground, just a banana’s toss from a family of monkeys hunkering down in a tree.

A crawly character affectionately named Sir Gecko Von Schweetz by the children in a nod to Disney’s animated film, “Wreck-It Ralph”, roamed the walls inside the Palmers’ rain forest dwelling, ingesting hoards of insects one flicked tongue at a time.

Getting back to nature, notes Palmer, was good for the brain and for the soul.

The family soaked in the sunsets and marvelled at creatures big and small, enjoying regular sightings of deer, sloths, crocodiles, lizards, snakes and the like.

The children went to an open-air concept school with breezes flowing from the forest through the classrooms.

In the jungle of Nosara, activities ran the gamut from urban-flavoured skateboarding, tennis and karate to nature-infused hikes, snorkelling and turtle-watching.

Palmer found he and his family, spurred by their natural setting, often enjoyed just thinking and relaxing, rather than doing and go-go-going.

“I spent so much more time with our kids and Catharine,’’ he says.

“I felt more in tune with their quirks, their spirits, their personalities...and it was a two-way street.’’

Palmer observed his family grow in patience and persistence as they learned to adapt to the “extreme challenges’’ of living in the rain forest, everything from monsoon rains to intense heat.

Palmer was pleased to return a few weeks ago to “some normal living’’ in Calgary, but has no regrets about a near year-long escape from the concrete jungle to a rain forest.

“Looking back it really was a beneficial trip,’’ he says.

“It really bonded us...it kind of brought our family back closer together.’’

 Here are a few personal facts about Michael Palmer:

- A big fan of The Beatles music, he once travelled 5,000 kilometres to attend a Paul McCartney concert.

- His study of the Second World War spans more than two decades.

- Works in the financial and marketing areas for oil and gas companies.

- Fond of running, mountain hiking and playing basketball.

- His debut book, “Dark Side of the Sun”, was nominated for the National Governor General Literary Award.

- Spent his summers on P.E.I. while growing up. His parents, Mary and Lou Palmer, are native Islanders.

- To learn more about Michael Palmer and his travelling exploits, visit michaelandrewpalmer.com.

Painful red ant bites, a stingray’s sting, sharing space with scorpions, crossing the path of a poisonous snake.

It’s all just part and parcel for a family determined to get away from it all.

Michael Palmer and his family of five had more than a few misadventures, like floating down a river in a golf cart during a flash flood, during an intentionally uprooting experience.

But the 44-year-old author with strong roots to P.E.I. is quick to pronounce life — make that a lengthy getaway — in a rain forest village of Nosara on the Pacific Coast a monumental success.

Almost one year ago, the Palmers — Michael and Catharine, and the couple’s children Andrew, 11, Ryan, 9, and Jenna, 8 — packed up for a Costa Rica trip with profound purpose.

The goal was to get away from the family’s fast-pace life in Calgary, allowing the clan to reconnect with one another.

“Going into it, the whole idea was to unplug,’’ says Palmer.

“It was a year of engagement — a lot of family experiences.’’

Their small, wooden home stood high above ground, just a banana’s toss from a family of monkeys hunkering down in a tree.

A crawly character affectionately named Sir Gecko Von Schweetz by the children in a nod to Disney’s animated film, “Wreck-It Ralph”, roamed the walls inside the Palmers’ rain forest dwelling, ingesting hoards of insects one flicked tongue at a time.

Getting back to nature, notes Palmer, was good for the brain and for the soul.

The family soaked in the sunsets and marvelled at creatures big and small, enjoying regular sightings of deer, sloths, crocodiles, lizards, snakes and the like.

The children went to an open-air concept school with breezes flowing from the forest through the classrooms.

In the jungle of Nosara, activities ran the gamut from urban-flavoured skateboarding, tennis and karate to nature-infused hikes, snorkelling and turtle-watching.

Palmer found he and his family, spurred by their natural setting, often enjoyed just thinking and relaxing, rather than doing and go-go-going.

“I spent so much more time with our kids and Catharine,’’ he says.

“I felt more in tune with their quirks, their spirits, their personalities...and it was a two-way street.’’

Palmer observed his family grow in patience and persistence as they learned to adapt to the “extreme challenges’’ of living in the rain forest, everything from monsoon rains to intense heat.

Palmer was pleased to return a few weeks ago to “some normal living’’ in Calgary, but has no regrets about a near year-long escape from the concrete jungle to a rain forest.

“Looking back it really was a beneficial trip,’’ he says.

“It really bonded us...it kind of brought our family back closer together.’’

 Here are a few personal facts about Michael Palmer:

- A big fan of The Beatles music, he once travelled 5,000 kilometres to attend a Paul McCartney concert.

- His study of the Second World War spans more than two decades.

- Works in the financial and marketing areas for oil and gas companies.

- Fond of running, mountain hiking and playing basketball.

- His debut book, “Dark Side of the Sun”, was nominated for the National Governor General Literary Award.

- Spent his summers on P.E.I. while growing up. His parents, Mary and Lou Palmer, are native Islanders.

- To learn more about Michael Palmer and his travelling exploits, visit michaelandrewpalmer.com.

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