Posts filed under ‘Food’

The One Thing That Really Matters

.:{Hint Hint: It’s Not Money}:.

Tonight was very interesting for me. My host mom’s family that lives in the states, in Florida, is here visiting for the week. They are very nice people, but they embody the “American Stereotype” ie: only like to eat fast food—and a lot of it— like to have a lot of money, and enjoy quantity over quality.

I was talking with the dad, who used to live in Costa Rica, about if he would ever move back here or what his thoughts were about the two countries. His answer was very interesting. He immediately started talking about money. And his job. And more about money. And how he does not like his job at all, but it’s good money. And how life would be better if he didn’t have to work as much. But at least he can go to nice restaurants and has a big house and can buy a lot of stuff right?

It was in that moment, when our conversation straddled my two worlds, that I realized the main thing that I love about Costa Rica.

People here, at least where I live, don’t have a lot of money. I mean they have money, but not in grandiose amounts by any means. They have simple houses, enjoy simple but, delicious, fresh food, if they buy something they take care of it so that it lasts, they reuse most things (ie: almost all the soap in bathrooms here is in old water bottles instead of buying a new bottle of soap every time), they appreciate their health, and they don’t have a lot, but what they do have is plenty. Not once, here, have I heard someone talking about their job as though it is the worst thing ever, as though it encompasses their lives, as though it is the primary reason for living. Not once. Ever. Coming from the states where almost everyone complains about their job on a daily basis, and often center their lives around their career, it’s pretty remarkable. Here they just seem to have their priorities in line, ya know? It’s like, yeah, maybe I don’t earn crazy amounts of money, but that’s not the most important thing in life.

In fact, the other day, my host sister’s husband was talking about this exact thing. He said, “The only that really matters in life is your health. If you are healthy and happy that’s all you need. If you have a lot of money, but have some terrible disease, the money doesn’t matter. Taking care of yourself is what matters”

But why are we so disconnected from this in the states? I mean, it’s not like I have traveled the world or anything, but I have been to a decent number of places and this seems to be the consensus everywhere but the US.

QUALITY over quantity.

The basics of life come first, and are the priority.

It’s an understanding about what really matters in life.

For that, Costa Rica, I am grateful for you.

Muchas Gracias

June 10, 2010 at 9:19 pm 1 comment

Puerto Viejo

.:{Jah Bless}:.

As if I haven’t been lucky enough to be in Costa Rica, have gone to the beach for the week during Semana Santa, travel for a week with my mom, and have a weekend back in the states, I also spent a week (a few weeks ago) in Puerto Viejo with Ray, Jen, and Jen’s two friends from college.

We had been planning this trip for what seemed like forever, actually before I even left for Costa Rica. In fact, Puerto Viejo was the only vacation I intended on taking while here, which just makes it even more awesome that I had the opportunity to go on the other trips.

What is so awesome about having these different trips is that I have been able to experience so much of Costa Rica (who knows when I’m going to be here next, so I might as well see as much as I can right?). Because the country is small (the size of New Hampshire and Vermont put together), you would think that by visiting one part of the country you would have a good understanding of most of CR, but that is not the case at all. Every part of Costa Rica is so different from the next, and I have loved been able to experience the extreme differences.

Most different from them all is Puerto Viejo. From what I have seen, Puerto Viejo is nothing like anything else I have encountered in Costa Rica—and I am absolutely in love with it. When I think about my other trips, the things that really stand out to me are the events: the snorkeling, the hikes, the waterfalls, just the activities in general. But, when I think of Puerto Viejo, the thing that stands out is the feel of the Caribbean. The vibe of Puerto Viejo is very relaxing, earth friendly, bohemian, quirky, and laid-back. I could absolutely live there.

Our trip to Puerto Viejo started out with some bad luck. A passport was missing, I was recovering from my sickness and such from the States, and the day before everyone was suppose to come to Costa Rica the road to get to Puerto Viejo was closed because of flooding. I mean, it is the rainy season here, but Puerto Viejo is supposed to be dryer than the rest of the country. A flood? Really?

Luckily, everything worked out, everyone made it to Costa Rica, AND we got to the road just in time before it was going to close again. Seriously, Costa Rica is magical. On top of it all, our shuttle driver was amazing and so nice (although we all believe he definitely got lost trying to find our place in Puerto Viejo as the drive there took waay longer than the drive back with other people). After a nice ride with him, a stop for some local food, driving up to the wrong place, and reversing, we had made it. We, thanks to Ray’s research, found an awesome and cheap place to stay for the week right outside the main town of Puerto Viejo on Playa Negra. Although the lady that we were renting it from was really nice, she definitely needs to work on her welcome speeches.

“Hey Everyone! Welcome! So, what can I tell you? Well, theft is rampant here. It can be dangerous, which is why we put the new bars on the windows…”

Umm what?

I mean my host family had told me to be careful at night in Puerto Viejo, not walk alone, especially if you’re a girl, to lock the doors, ya know basically just use common sense. But this lady was making it seem like we were living right next to an unsecured prison. However, everything turned out all right and we didn’t have any problems, so no worries there. In fact, that night we even walked into town (about a 10 min walk that we first made on a sidewalk-less street, dodging cars, and from then on out, walked to and from town on the beach—much safer and prettier) to get some essentials, ie: Imperial beer and snacks, and returned back home to celebrate our first night in Puerto Viejo.

[I am realizing that this blog is becoming absurdly long, so from here on out, I will do my best to summarize the week.]

The next day was absolutely beautiful, nice and sunny (which could explain why everyone woke up freakishly early for a vacation, ie: 5am) and we spent that day lounging on the beach, busting out the Kan Jam game Ray somehow managed to stuff into his suitcase (if you’ve never heard of Kan Jam, you’re missing out), and exploring around town. That night we went to our first of the many excellent restaurants for some Costa Rican food with a Caribbean flare. It was absolutely delicious. At that restaurant we saw a perfect example of the kind of hospitality and attitude people have in Costa Rica. We were the only people at the restaurant and after taking our orders the owner made a special trip out on her bike to pick up ingredients for our food and the type of beers we ordered (instead of just saying they were out). Gotta love Costa Rica.

Oh geez, I feel like I have so much to say about Puerto Viejo, but this is going to take forever. So… basically

Every single restaurant that we went to in Puerto Viejo was amazing. Everyone seemed to have their favorites too. Whether it was Pan Pay with the good atmosphere and delicious Tortilla Espanola, Ali Baba’s for some A-MAZ-ING tasting falafel, pita’s and Mediterranean food, Bread and Chocolate for some all natural, homemade (including the bread and jams) food, delicious french press coffee, and veggie friendly breakfast, or Salsa Brava for great Tapa’s, drinks, and sitting right next to the ocean, we were all happily satisfied with the Puerto Viejo’s food.

The group at Ali Baba's

Delicious french press coffee at "Bread and Chocolate"

AWESOME cinnamon and oatmeal pancakes in the shape of a sun at Bread and Chocolate- yum

The amazing tapas at Salsa Brava restaurant


We were also able to go on two awesome tours while we were in Puerto Viejo. The first was a combination tour of an animal sanctuary, indigenous chocolate making, and a waterfall hike and the second one was a fantastic zip-lining tour. I think pictures explain better than words for these so, please note the photos below.

At the animal sanctuary : Here's lookin' at you monkey

Ray with one of the monkeys at the animal sanctuary - cute!

Baby sloth!

The cutest two-toed baby sloth ever

Baby three-toed sloth...how can you not love that face?!

At the animal sanctuary with the littlest of the monkeys : Brad Pitt

The girls at the indigenous chocolate-making tour with "lipstick" put on directly from a berry

Beautiful waterfall that we hiked to and swam under after the animal reserve and chocolate tour

On the way to the ziplining, our transportation broke down and we were told to walk to "the zipline place right up the road." Well, about 30 min later and one never-ending incline climb, we made it.

The girls and our ziplining gear

The beautiful view of the rainforest

We did it!


Along with the tours, another moment that stood out specifically for me was one night when we were walking home from town. Not only was it already beautiful because, I mean, our entire walk home is along the beach, but this night was especially beautiful. As I was walking with Ray, we looked up to notice that the stars were exceptionally bright. EXCEPTIONALLY bright. I have never seen anything like it before. I felt like I was in a movie or like Jen said, on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at DisneyLand where there are fake stars above you. The stars were not only remarkably bright but actually twinkling. TWINKLING. Every single one. We all stopped just to stare up at the stars. It was something so simple, but it’s the simple moments that matter the most.

And really I think that is what I loved the most about Puerto Viejo. The simplicity. Life is relaxed. Life is good. Quality is more important than quantity. The priorities are all that they need to be: good food, good company, happiness, awareness of the world that we live in, love, peace… it sounds very hippy-ish, but hey maybe the flower children had it right.

There is so much more that happened in Puerto Viejo, but I’m not going to bore you all with it. Basically to sum it up. Puerto Viejo = Happiness. I was so so so happy to see my friends and see Ray (but that definitely is making these last few weeks without them very difficult). I was so happy to be on the beach. I was so happy that I was lucky enough to be in Costa Rica, I was so happy with the food. I was so happy with people. I was so happy with the activities. I was, simply, so happy. And am still so happy.

Big thanks to everyone that helped me or encouraged me to come out to Costa Rica. Seriously. It’s thanks to you that I am surrounded by such happiness.

Muchas Gracias
Pura Vida

[continue on to see more photos!]

Our fantastic place next to the Playa Negra beach in Puerto Viejo

Our beautiful view walking every day

I just loved this house in Puerto Viejo

Love Puerto Viejo

Typical Puerto Viejo

Please note the third line down

Attempting to make local food for breakfast

Beautiful sunrise on Playa Negra


June 7, 2010 at 11:04 pm Leave a comment

Playa Dominical Part 2

.:{Buses, Burns, Beauty, Bliss}:.

A bus, a taxi, another bus, a night in San Isidro (to meet up with my friend who also went to with me) and another bus later I had arrived in Dominical: a beach town located in the Puntarenas province, a little south of Quepos and Manuel Antonio. Instead of writing a full out blog, I decided to break this post down to the main “lessons” I learned during my weekend in Dominical. Enjoy 🙂

Lessons learned on the bus (San Jose to San Isidro):

1) I am directionally challenged
2) The online schedule and the actual schedule do not match.
3) You have to pay to use the bathrooms in the bus station, and when you don’t realize this will look like an idiotic foreigner.
4) There are assigned seats. If you don’t realize this you will end up changing seats multiple times and again looking like an idiotic foreigner.
5) Don’t sit in the front of a bus in Costa Rica, unless you enjoy seeing your life flash before your eyes… several times.
6) Talk to the people sitting next to you. They may end up showing you a song that reminds them of you (old man-creepy) or they may help you find your way to your destination (could have been sketchy, but was a nice guy, and definitely necessary for my directionally challenged self).

Lessons learned in Dominical:

1) Clouds are deceiving. Just because there are clouds, don’t think you can sit in the sun longer. You will burn, badly. And end up burning the back of your legs so bad that your skin is feels like it got a face-lift, so much so that you can’t straighten your legs so you have to walk around like you’re constipated.
2) Aloe vera gel serves multiple purposes: it helps sunburns, it can act as hair gel, you can use it for shaving, for after shaving, all other burns, to prolong a tan, or to remove make-up (as it says on the back of the bottle I had to buy in Dominical for my terrible burn).
3) Go to the Maracatu restaurant for great organic, local/sustainable/vegetarian food, but not for the nightlife
4) Prepare yourself when you order a casado dish (local mixed-plate dish) with chicken as it may actually turn out to be fish-chicken/some other unidentifiable animal.
5) Stay at the Tortilla Flats hostel. It’s right on the beach, close to everything. Great simple rooms. Nice restaurant outside. Cheap.
6) I absolutely love beach towns, and could definitely be a beach bum at some point in my life. I love love love love loved Dominical. Just the feel of the place was great. More built up than Guacima, but definitely not super touristy. There is a charm to Dominical. There are lots of local surfer/hippie types there, and the beach was beautiful.
7) Go to Dominical

The many towels, sarongs, and tapestries being sold between the trees in Dominical

My view laying on the beach 🙂

Dominical Beach, one of the many surfers there

Dominical=Beautiful


March 16, 2010 at 11:52 am 6 comments

Chorreadas

.:{My Inner Fat Kid Rejoices}:.


This morning I experienced chorreadas. I am in love. They are delicious. Chorreadas are simply pancakes/tortillas made out of fresh corn, a little milk and an egg, and topped with fresh cheese. I ate one and it was just so good that I had to eat another, so I did. And then I felt like my stomach was going to explode. But I was happy. MMMM

Pura Vida

March 9, 2010 at 7:08 pm 1 comment

Cartago

.:{Un Lugar Misterioso}:.

A view from our car of the fog in Cartago

Yesterday, I went with Nubia (one of my host sisters) to the city of Cartago. It’s about an hour+ drive from Guacima, so along the way I was able to see much more of Costa Rica, with Nubia as my wonderful tour guide.

Cartago used to be the capital of Costa Rica, and is one of Costa Rica’s oldest Spanish settlements. It is a very mysterious/eerie place because there is always fog (bruma) and I dunno, the place just has this kind of old/ghostly vibe about it. Although many of the old buildings were destroyed in past earthquakes and a terrible volcanic eruption in 1723, there are still some old creepy buildings that remain which I loved! (see below)

After sight-seeing, we went to a little cafe called “Ti ama” for some coffee and a snack. I LOVED this little place. It was very quaint, with pictures of Bob Marley, the Beatles, Marilyn Monroe, etc. on the walls—and I had the best cappuccino ever. I also ate a delicious chocolate brownie, which was much needed as I have been on a chocolate kick for days and had yet to enjoy its deliciousness. Needless to say, I am definitely going back to Ti Ama before I leave.

Hope everyone is doing well!

Ciao,

Kelsey

Basilica: Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels: known for sheltering the stone statue of the famous “La Negrita,” Costa Rica’s patron saint. People also come here for the water outside which many collect in bottles for its supposed “healing” powers. This place is very interesting- I would definitely suggest reading more about it 🙂

Gifts that people bring during a yearly pilgrimage to the Cathedral, as a tribute to “La Negrita.” (seriously read more about this, it’s a pretty interesting story- and a very famous place).

Las Ruinas: the remains of the paroquia (parish church) built in 1575 and damaged many times before its final destruction in the earthquake of 1910.

A sign inside Las Ruinas- yes, this place definitely feels like there are ghosts that wander about at night.




March 7, 2010 at 8:33 am 2 comments

My Second Week in Costa Rica

.:{Solo Bueno}:.

My second week in Costa Rica is officially complete.

Me with one of my spanish teachers-Carlos-after I finished my classes I received a nice little certificate.

I am now finished with my language classes—which I must admit, I am going to miss. I have heard about other people not liking the classes because they are a little intense and last for 4 hours/day, but I loved them. Not only did I get to learn Spanish, but I also had the opportunity to learn about life in Costa Rica from the locals. Everyday I had the chance to ask about a subject whether it was how to get around La Guacima or the relationships between CR men and women. All of the language teachers are super nice and I think that anyone doing this same program should definitely consider taking the classes.

In addition to loving the classes, this week was particularly fun because there was another group of students at El Rancho Espanol taking classes. Everyone in the group was from Wisconsin and was probably around their mid-40‘s and above. One lady from the group was living with my same family for the week and she was spectacular. So fun and friendly, and even though she didn’t know a whole lot of Spanish (but she did learn a lot in her short time here), she always made an effort to speak with the family. Since, she didn’t speak too much Spanish I got to plan the role of interpreter between her and the family which was really fun and made me realize that I have already learned quite a bit of Spanish in my short time here.

Making Pineapple Empanadas with the teacher and the group from Wisconsin

Everyone else in the group was super nice as well (I am definitely going to miss them). We all took salsa dancing lessons together, and a cooking class as well where we made Pineapple Empanadas. I absolutely LOVED the salsa dancing lessons, and am definitely going out dancing with either my family here or some of the instructors from El Rancho.

Since the other group was here, I was also able to tag along with them to eat at two of the main restaurants here in Guacima: Anthony’s and a Pizzeria. Anthony’s has typical CR food and the Pizzeria may be the best Pizza that I have had in a while. Who would have thought I would find excellent italian food in Costa Rica?

I also spent a full week volunteering at Casa Luz, and a full Saturday as well (my first full day there as I was only doing half days before because of my classes). I have mixed feelings about my work at Casa Luz, so that blog post is soon to come. But I absolutely love the little kids there (they are beyond cute) and although I haven’t had much interaction with the mothers, I can tell that they are some pretty strong and amazing girls.

Hope that everyone is doing well!  I will be writing a post soon about my trip alone to San Jose as well, so stay on the look out for that. As always, keep me posted on your adventures!

Saludos!

Kelsey

March 2, 2010 at 10:43 am 2 comments


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