It didn’t take long – less than 5 months – to have our very first visitor in our new Costa Rican home! My Mom #2 (Greg’s Mom, my Mom-in-law, Shirley – is her name) visited us for a week and it was a pleasure to have her. It was her first “real” visit to a foreign country, and she did great on her flight and going through customs, all by herself.
We had a pretty laid back week, but had one busy day that included a Coffee Tour and Botanical Garden. Our awesome driver/friend Wilson of Coati Tours set everything up for us, and because of him – we had our own private tour guide at both places. He seems to know everyone, calls them in advance, and figures out the best times to do the tours. Needless to say, we were treated like royalty. Especially at the Espiritu Santo Coffee Tour in Naranjo, we had a young handsome Tico guide named Jose who spoke excellent English and took a shine to “Churley” (he had a hard time pronouncing the “sh” sound).“Churley” got special assistance from Jose whenever we walked from one place to another, down a slope or up some stairs – Jose was there offering her his arm.
Below is a Chorreador – the true Costa Rican way of making coffee. It’s basically a cloth material filter, than can be rinsed out and used for several months. You just put the coffee grounds in the filter, set your mug underneath, and pour boiling water over the coffee grounds. Very simple, but truly the best cup of coffee I’ve had here!
I highly recommend this coffee tour. It was very comfortable and laid back – thanks to Jose (ask for him!). We tasted some good coffee and coffee liquors (even Mom #2!). We all admitted we learned a lot of details about the coffee process that we certainly did not know before. Price was $22/person (but Greg & I got a discount, as we have our cedula #’s – so just $16 for us!).
Then we went to the Jardín Botánico in Sarchi. At this point it was clouding over quite a bit, so Wilson called ahead to see what they thought. Guess it appeared to be fine, because on we went with umbrellas in hand if needed. This garden was very beautiful and we got our own personal guide again who spoke very good English (although he had only studied it for one year and kept apologizing that he wasn’t “so good”). The plants and trees were all fascinating – and different than what we are used to in the States. This leaf ———————————-> has 3 different colors. On the top are 2 different greens – the light green absorbs the sun when it is not that bright, the dark green when it is a bit brighter. And when the sun is very direct and bright, the leaf FLIPS OVER to reveal a solid dark purple color that protects it from the bright sun. Amazing!
<—— The oddly shaped leaf on this plant has several different purposes. The holes allow sunlight to hit the leaf, but also to fall through so the leaves underneath get sunlight. Its appearance of the many holes also gives false signals to predators that the leaf is damaged (i.e. eaten by bugs and holey), so it protects itself. Price of the garden tour was $14/person.
After the gardens, Wilson took us to his favorite local place for a fabulous lunch. We ate with a view of the valley out a large open window with a gentle breeze flowing through. They had a special Guanabanana fresh fruit juice that day – and it was superb! It was a family style lunch and included the juice, a meatball/rice/chicken broth soup, salad, fried plantains and black bean dip, chicken fajitas with rice and tortillas, and rice pudding with a side of strong coffee for desert (we drank a lot of coffee this day!). Price – $10 per person.
Then we went to Sarchi and visited a, well, really a souvenir store – but it was so much more. Sarchi is known for their artists, painters and wood workers. But behind the souvenir shop was what was magical – it was an old time wood working shop, and I mean old time. A HUMONGOUS water wheel powers the WHOLE shop! It was amazing. Here’s one of the wood workers we met – a sweet man who’s been there forever, he took great pride in showing us a small photo album he had. He had worked on an oxcart that made it into the Guinness Book of World Records. He makes these amazing tables of different colored wood, and was super proud to have his picture taken with me (he was really sweet!).
There’s also several painters in the back of the shop – all working diligently on painting in the “Sarchi style”. These artists don’t follow any guidelines, they just pain free-hand. Really beautiful work!
For Thanksgiving, we decided to stay at home and have a quiet Thanksgiving by ourselves, which turned out good because it rained and was super windy all day long. We had rotisserie chicken, au gratin potatoes, roasted vegetables, homemade bread and homemade pumpkin & pecan pies for desert (hey, I’m all about a good meal, in case you didn’t know!) . Also tried a new iced tea – chamomile, honey, vanilla, mint & lemon (thank you Lynn for the lemons!).
A couple days later we were invited to a Pig Roast at our neighbor’s house. Was so much fun and they had a surprise mariachi band! Good time with friends and listening to music (and well, dancing, of course!).
The pig, which was an actual pig roasted in a custom made BBQ pit, was actually pretty good (per my husband who tried some), and everyone brought lots of different dishes to accompany the pig. Everything was “muy rico” (very tasty), including the desserts. Yes, I brought a dessert, in case you’re wondering – it was Latin themed, so my Tres Leches Cupcakes were perfect.
We also enjoyed some good times and dinner with our friends Justa & Steve at Isabel’s Essprezzo De La Casa:
We also had a great evening having our friends Helen, Charles & Justin over for dinner one night:
All in all, we had a great week – laid back, but still got lots of cool stuff in as well. Thanks Mom #2, for coming to visit us!! We can’t wait to have you back again!
Ciao for now! — Jen