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Serious Business in Costa Rica – September 1-4


Having stayed a week in La Fortuna with the low season in full swing, Alex and I headed back to Quesada City for 10 days. Alex needs to attend to personal business in San Jose, and I need to play catch-up on my blogs and marketing research for Coque and Tatiana at the Miradas Hotel.

The day before we left, Coque erected the sign for the new hotel–Gecko Rustic Hotel. Gecko Sign 9416 It looks rather stunning, don’t you think? He also put signs on the road leading to the hotel. Within the next two months the newly-refurbished Gecko Rustic Lodge would get its facelift and be in business, just in time for the high season. But in the meantime, Alex is not needed so we head back to Quesada City.

Taking the bus to Quesada City is about a 1-1/2 hour ride from La Fortuna. The cost is $ 1,350 Colones ($2.70 USD). The busses are just like the Grayhound busses in the US, but without air conditioning. Here it’s called “fresh air conditioning!” And no, they don’t have people getting on with goats and chickens. HA HA!

I was excited to be back at Judy’s house where the newcomer Sloth had made its home last week. Did you know Sloths only come down out of the tree top one time weekly to go to the bathroom? And then they bury it deep so as not to attract predators. Often you will see that their fur is a greenish color. Yup, that’s mold. They are in the rain every day and with their fur so dense, it never dries. Poor things! Makes you want to scratch, huh?

Sloth at Quesada City

Sloth at Quesada City

Judy greeted us with fresh coffee and fried yucca.

Making fresh coffee

Making fresh coffee

Fried Yucca

Fried Yucca

I have been here only one week and already pawing-at-the-trough to bake. But very few places have ovens. The homes only have propane countertop burners much like you’d have on a camping trip. Only recently have they been installing a complete range. Therefore, a lot of the women do not know how to bake. However, Judy has an electric range and oven and I was so excited to bake something. The first thing I had to do was to figure out how to improvise some of the ingredients. Unless you go to a mega supermarket, you cannot find things like chocolate chips, brown sugar or walnuts. You can either improvise by making your own brown sugar (add molasses to granulated sugar), buy candy bars and chip them up and chose Macadamia nuts instead of walnuts. Or, you take the plunge and travel extra distances to the mega stores. Even then, they certainly do not stock the large array of products like we are so accustomed to having in the US. But I did find a ready-made graham cracker crust for a cheese cake. YES! That is certainly an item on my To-Do list.

The dairy products are so different here. The sour cream is sold in a two-cup plastic bag and is rather liquid. If you put it into a cold refrigerator, it will solidify. Cream cheese is sold the same way—in a small plastic bag. However, I did find it in a tub in Quesada City. Butter is more yellow than yellow can get. Since this country is a dairy farmer’s dream, you can usually stop at a farm and purchase these items fresh. Or you can visit one of the many Farmer’s Markets and get all you need. They don’t seem to have the health department requirements here so if you buy fresh, here will be no expiration date on the package.

PHOTO

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

So back to the cookies. They came out very well, much to my surprise. I fully expected them to be a flop. Thank goodness. I was so ready for something sweet to eat. Next feat will be a Texas Sheet Cake. That should surely please everyone.

While I was busy baking and making chicken soup for lunch, Alex was in the backyard preparing the soil for planting a garden. Not sure what he will plant, but I bet he’ll have lots of vegetables. Be sure to check back often for updates on our progress with the Farmer Joe stories.

 

All photos are copyrighted by Cindi L Rogers

 


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Craftori

Serious Business in Costa Rica – August 2014


Jesus Christ at Carlos Lodge in La Fortuna

Jesus Christ at Carlos Lodge in La Fortuna

Having spent the last two months constantly in touch with both Alex and Monica regarding a return trip to La Fortuna, I had decided that I would return for three months. But this would be a more in-depth visit and I would spend my time providing comprehensive photographs and data offer the hotel properties tools to market their services (websites, blogs, photography).

Before I could make this trip, I had to resolve the issue of care for my dogs. I would have to either find someone who would stay at my house to care for them and the two cats, find someone who wanted them at their house or “something.” With funds becoming slimmer all the time, I needed to make this move pretty quick. I knew I could only stay three months on a passport—which was fine as I could not bear to be away from my “kids” for any longer. I lucked out and my friend, Danielle, offered to keep the dogs at her house. Now came the nitty-gritty: plane fare. United wanted $950 roundtrip for last-minute reservations. That’s it….. I cannot afford this trip. Two days later I got a spam email advertising low fares on Spirit. Oooo-kayy…. Sometimes spam has it’s qualities. $364 roundtrip. So what’s the catch? Nothing, it seemed. I could go as early as NOW for this price. So let’s go!!

On August 28 I left Houston at a decent time, 6:15 p.m. But…. no direct flights were to be had with Spirit. You flew to New Orleans, then on to Fort Lauderdale, and finally to San Jose. Arrival time would be midnight. Ugh. No problem…. Alex and his friend Alberto met me with open arms. We would drive as far as Quesada City (one-hour drive from the airport, it is one of the region’s main trading and business centers) and stay with a friend, Judy, before traveling on to La Fortuna.

While at Judy’s house over the next two days, I had the opportunity to meet the neighbor, Leo.

Leo - Quesada City

Leo – Quesada City

He is such a sweet man. He and Alex escorted me all over the area to sight birds—birds I had not yet seen before. There were literally hordes of Green Parakettes flying all over, squawking obnoxiously. One really large tree was full of Green Parrots.

Parrot in Quesada City

Parrot in Quesada City

I had never seen such a sight. Totally amazing. While I was trying to focus on the Parrots, Leo was grabbing at me to make me look behind me. Not 15’ up in a tree was a….. SLOTH!!! OMG!

Sloth at Quesada City

Sloth at Quesada City

I have photographed Sloths in the park, along the road, but have never been so close. No way was it possible that this creature was sleeping right outside my bedroom window. This was the first sighting; no one knew he was there prior to now.

Bus to La Fortuna

Bus to La Fortuna

On Thursday, we thumbed a ride with a friend into town where we boarded a bus to La Fortuna.  About 1-1/2 hours later we arrived in the town I knew so well, “My home away from home.” Stopping at the grocery store to grab a six-pack of Imperial, we got a cab to take us to our first stop, Miradas Arenal, a hotel about 10 km outside of La Fortuna on the way to the volcano where Alex is employed. (This is the actual address if you were to send mail. There are no actual street addresses in most of Costa Rica. It can drive you nuts so you absolutely MUST have a GPS to navigate. In the GPS, you don’t enter a street address. Instead, you enter the name of the place you are going.)

Carlos Lodge hill

Carlos Lodge hill

Ending up at the Carlos Lodge (where we will stay for the next week), I found myself in this huge cabin, on a property recently purchased by the owner (Coque) of the Miradas Arenal. The property is undergoing renovations: painting, flooring, electrical, etc. So it’s just me and Alex. Ever see “The Shining” with Jack Nicholson? This was the first thought that came to mind when we got here in the total darkness. It was so dark, I didn’t know there were 11 other cabins up the lane.

Settling in I needed to shower. OMG!! WHERE is the hot water? Did they unplug it for renovations? Lordy. What a chill. The temperature drops several degrees as you head north/northwest out of La Fortuna and there was a little chill in the air. Add to that an iced cold shower. “Buggers!” Nevertheless, slept with the windows open. What a wonderful breeze. Snuggled under the blanket. Amazing. What a relief from the Houston weather.

The next morning I am absolutely starved. Realizing I hadn’t had anything since lunch on Thursday, I trek down the hill to the little restaurant (abandoned) thinking the kitchen would be stocked with food. I thought wrong. However, there were tea bags and ice cubes, a “must have” for a true Texan. Also found some coffee, so I was set. Shortly thereafter Coque’ arrived with eggs, bread and sausage. Daily nourishment followed by compiling a grocery list, for sure. Later today Coque’ is taking us into town to the Farmer’s Market. It’s a place where the local farmers bring their home-grown veggies and fruits. Open only on Friday, it is “the” place to shop. We were able to get homemade sour cream (sold in a little plastic bag), freshly grated white cheese, vegetables (broccoli crown was $1.00) and a chicken hen which was very expensive–$6.00. Since most of the people here grow their own fruits, chickens (eggs) and with plantain, banana, avocado, etc., trees in every yard, you only need to buy a few items to survive. You can buy a really large pineapple for $1.25; bananas are 10 cents/lb. And eggs are sold by the weight and are almost always brown. The growing season in Costa Rica is 365 days a year (although avocados do have a definite growing season; they are imported from Mexico for $1.00 the rest of the year). The temperature varies only slightly, and the sun-up/sun-down times varies by maybe 15 minutes. Sun-up is 5:30’ish, sun-down is 5:30’ish. (One could become a creature of habit here.) Even the “dry” season is rainy, just not as frequently or as heavy. So with a shower virtually every day along with very rich soil, it’s a farmer’s paradise.

Moving on to my first day adventure as a new-born writer, blogger, for-hire photographer, “idea-giver,” I find myself sitting here writing.

Until later………

All photos are copyrighted by Cindi L Rogers
 

Craftori


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