The first time I saw snow, like real inches-deep powdery snow, I was in my twenties. Growing up in El Salvador, I used to fantasize of making a snowman, of throwing myself sin ningún cuidado sobre la nieve and make snow angels. I always wondered how it would feel to open my mouth and let precious snowflakes melt on my tongue.
Camila y sus primos didn’t have to wait over 20 years for their childhood snow-laced dreams to come true. I tell you, estos niños de ahora no saben lo bien que la tienen! The primos live in hot and humid Cancun and we live in warm and almost-perfect-weather L.A. Camila has been to the snow a few times since it’s really just an hour drive to the closest mountain during the winter to get some snow play and tubing/sledding action. But she had never been skiing.
My mother in law came up with a plan a few years ago to get both her daughter and her son’s families together with her and my father in law once per year. We haven’t been able to do it every year because we’re complicated people (ouch!), but this year we managed to agree on one place and actually get there. We had a two-room villa at the Marriot Timber Lodge at Heavenly Village in South Lake Tahoe, which is actually right across the border from Nevada in the California side.
The idea of the villa, aparte de volvernos locos con los gritos de los niños, is that we get to spend real quality time as a family, but it’s really for the kids. Camila’s cousins are 6 and 7 years old, so the bond is just immediate.
¿Y para qué les cuento tanto? It’s better if I show you pictures that tell the story mucho mejor and show you how beautiful and fabulous this place is for a family trip.
This is how excited they were to finally see the snow. We had to go up to Adventure Mountain to find snow to play and sled in because there actually’s not enough snow in the area right now. Luckily, it had snowed 4-5 inches the day before we got there! These kids got the hang of sledding súper rápido!
Primo’s first angel de nieve.
Camila’s first snow angel.
I did one too, but no one took a picture! Muy mal, would have been perfect for Instagram! Wahhhh….
However, there is evidence of me sledding! But I had to go alone, because after going down the hill with me once, Camila decided it was más divertido con su papá!
Yeah, ok, she’s right!
Snow angel: check. Sledding: check. Next? Snowman! Primo and Camila collected the snow in sleds so we could have a ginormous snowman. And, really, are they this hard to make or are we just way too newbies??
Looking good Snowman, dude.
Ya saben que nos gustan los “selfies” en pareja. What do you think of this one? My husband doubted it because we had the sun at our back, but I knew I could get a glorious light to hit us como luz bendita y divina!
Now that they had warmed up to the snow (ja!), they decided they were ready to take ski lessons up on Heavenly. We were all a little nervous (¡mírale las caritas!) because they had to go up in the gondola alone with their teacher and this would be their first time. But the three of them were together and they were super brave for each other.
The Bear Cave is off-limits for parents so we can let the little ones focus on having a great time learning to ski. Of course, I was on full mama-razzi mode following them to the snow anytime they’d go out to ski. I decided to not take ski lessons this time and be around para gozarla a ella y sus primos.
One day 1 they start off by learning the basics. They get pulled up little slopes and learn to come down alone. Kids are never taught with poles.
Wow, she’s so good!!! :)
I never thought she would love it so much, but all three of them did. They proudly passed on to Level 2 and hit the slopes again the next day.
By day 2 they end up going up on a ski lift to ski the “Big Easy” slope. It’s the same one adults start on. Not a little slope, by far. I held my breath.
Until that beautiful pink spot started coming down the hill with the biggest smile on her face.
On day 3 they had all advanced to level 3 and that meant both the lifts and the mountains got bigger, and they got braver. There she is with the pink pants sitting next to her instructor. I was done holding my breath. For this one I was waiting down the hill where snowboarders and skiers came rushing down. And she would be among them? How so fast after only 3 days and with no poles? But what do I know?
She came down and later went back up. Yep, she did it twice. The first time she was scared and needed encouragement from her teacher to come down. Even so, she swallowed her fear and did it once more. She passed to level 4 and now I have a bona fide skier in my hands! Her primos also made it to level 4 and went down that big mountain muchas veces.
Check out mama-razzi with the phone and the camera ready to shoot!
This place really is heavenly.
Saying “Adiós” to family was really tough to do after a week of real bonding and just having a sense of familia. But having these memories and experiences is truly priceless and what we’ve decided to “invest” on now.