Cooking and eating through a new culture

Archive for the tag “Costa Rica”

Lemongrass tea for me

The finca where we are living is perched atop a ridge line, that for the most part, has a 360 view.  At night, I maybe see a handful of lights in the distance and only on super still nights can I hear the far off rumble of a car. Nature rules here and I am only along for the ride. For the short time that I have been here, I am amazed at the weather. Technically the rainy season, but La Niña is having her way here and rain has been sporadic, but exciting. I have watched storms roll in from every direction whipping up winds and sheets of rain that permeate every corner of the house. Lightning pierces the night sky and shakes the whole earth in a spectacular fashion. Rarely a night goes by without some sort of light show. During these storms, the temperature will drop a delicious amount to a cooling mid 70’s, tempting me to look for long sleeves or curl beneath what little blanket I need. There are also times, like this morning, where it is so still that the only air movement is of the butterflies and birds that dart around the yard. This is the jungle at it peak. The steamy lusciousness of life where even the simplest tasks will produce rivulets of sweat.

As humid as it is here, you must keep hydrated. When I had on office job it was easy to keep a bottle of water at hand. Here, with all that is going on, after my morning coffee I forget to drink and I have paid the consequences with blistering headaches. The finca has a spring, but low water levels make me nervous, even with the extra filter. Living out here has its price, the biggest being the cost of food, so relying on juice and other bottled liquids can be costly (unless it is wine, then money is no object). So here is my solution: lemongrass tea.

With a field of lemongrass at my disposal, why not! Somewhere in the back of my mind, I remember reading how lemongrass has a cooling effect on the body and was used to fight fevers. Considering we have no AC, anything that cools you down I am in for. So while perusing recipes for tea, I was surprised to find all the other benefits of lemon grass. It’s also detoxifies the body by cleaning the liver, pancreas, kidneys, bladder, and urinary tract and reduces uric acid, cholesterol, and other toxins in the body (so I can keep drinking my wine with the sunset). Not only that, but you can use it as an astringent for your face to help tighten pores and reduce pimples.

Simple Quick Lemon Grass Tea Recipe

  1. Cut off the ends of two lemongrass stalks, use a sharp knife on a cutting board.
  2. Using the flat of the knife, compress the stalks so that the fibres inside are crushed.
  3. Cut the stalks in half and put them into a medium sized saucepan.
  4. Cover with a 2-3 cups of water and bring to boil.
  5. Simmer gently on a low heat for 10 – 15 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and pout the mixture through a sieve of tea strainer into a cup or mug.
  7. Leave to cool for a few minutes and enjoy.

Crush the stems and add water to grandma’s old enamel pot

If you don’t have a field of lemongrass to harvest, it grows easily here in Costa Rica in any sunny spot or if you have a green thumb, try growing a clump as a potted plant. For all of you outside the tropics, most Asian food markets carry nice batches of fresh lemongrass.  I use about five good size pieces, cut down to four-inch sections for each pitcher of tea. Before I add it to the water I crush the ends to make sure all the goodness seeps out. Bring to a boil and then turn off the heat and let it sit to cool. At this time, I usually add a dollop of honey but if you want to be really creative add some sliced fresh ginger to the boil or mint leaves while the tea is cooling. Personally, I like having it chilled in the fridge but it is just as tasty hot right off the stove, should the temperatures where you live dip below shorts weather.

It’s a perfect drink to have on the porch to watch the jungle, unless the sun is going down. Then it’s wine time.


Welcome to the wild side

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It’s been a while. Even now I am shocked to see the calendar in August. Two months I have been incommunicado. I am sorry. But I am back! And with so much to tell too. The biggest news being that CCR will no longer be located in the central valley because Rafa and I have moved  out of the concrete jungle to the real jungle. Yep. We just went through two months of craziness moving what little we have to the wilds of the Nicoya peninsula. Sure there are idyllic beaches minutes away, sunsets over the pool, heady perfumed ylang ylang tress, wildlife that literally falls into your lap (much to my surprise, mind you), but what really turns my engine is the fact that the property is bursting with food. Granted the slide show I have posted is only a sampling of what is around here and not a day goes by where I don’t see something else ripening before my eyes. It really is heavenly and could not get my hands dirty fast enough. I have a whole list of other things I want to plant: guanabana, granadilla, and mangosteens. The list goes on.

I have so much to share and really, what do you do with all this?

Sure, I will still be bombing around the country, finding new places to explore, new places to eat, but the base of operation is decidedly west coast. Oddly enough, the place is surprisingly civilized (a REAL French bakery? Who would have thought?) so there will definitely be some pretty interesting blogs. Stay tuned!

The passion of the fruit.

I haven’t written a blog like this in quite some time. Mainly, because I thought I had pretty much tapped into all there could be. Silly me. It started off innocently enough. A late run to the Sunday farmers market to net some goodies for the week had me lingering in front of a stand judging the merits of eggplant. The seller thought I was balking at the price, but I was really trying to figure out how much I needed for my recipe. I ended up buying the rest he had, and since he was relieved of having to haul eggplants back home, he tossed in a half a dozen of these fragrant fruits for free.

“What is this?” I held one up to Rafa as I was unpacking my bounty. They were over ripe, orange sized yellowish fruit with a wonderfully perfumed scent.

Maracuyá, or passion fruit” He says helping me with my bags.

“Huh. What do I do with it?” It seems they needed to be dealt with quickly since anything left in the Costa Rican climate rapidly deteriorates and becomes a cloud of fruit flies, hell-bent on making your life miserable in the kitchen. I pondered over one, feeling its papery wrinkled rind and out of curiosity, I cracked it open, and in egg like fashion, a mass of juicy, pulpy seeds plopped to the floor. Was not expecting that one.

Maracuyá (Passiflora edulis) is in the family Passifloraceae and is a common fruit in Central and South America and used mainly in desserts and drinks. Like most of the fruit down here, it is packed with vitamins and antioxidants and is touted to do everything from relieving depression to increasing libido (like I need that). Lets face it, pretty much any fruit you get here is awesome for you in some way, shape, or form and I love eating them all!

I opened the rest of them into a blender thinking I would whip up a smoothie on a hot San Jose afternoon but decided against it. Staring back at me from the blender pretty much looked like a mass of sweet-smelling fish eggs.

I ditched the idea of the blender and went to my fine strainer and ended up squeezing the juice and pulp from the seeds. The juice was sweet but rather acrid. Not good to drink straight, but I can definitely see how well it would go with gin or rum. I ended up just mixing it with other fruits. Lame, I know…but tasty!

Now, I didn’t think that really warranted a blog (then again…what does) but a week or so later I come upon these.

Not Maracuyá, but close: Granadilla. Passiflora ligularis, is still in the Passiflora genus but is the sweeter, less acidic cousin. Again, this fruit is used mainly in jellies, drinks and desserts, but for me there is only one way to eat them; straight up. It’s easy to pop through the thick papery rind and the good stuff is held in this white fluffy padding (not as runny as maracuyás), then you just suck it down. It’s like doing fruit shooters. The seeds are edible and add a crunchy dimension but are not big enough to feel uncomfortable to swallow whole. They are really good if you leave them in the fridge for a bit to cool. Self contained in a thick rind, sweet and crunchy, they make the perfect fast food snack. Do yourself a favor, if you see these crazy fruits around suck a few down. But do it in front of your partner for the libido increasing effect.

Embrace your inner zombie and suck it down!

Jardín Del Parque, my substitute kitchen

Everytime I think about it, I give a mournful sigh. I miss it with a depth of sorrow few people can understand and, at times, it can lead me into quite a funk.  Maybe that is why I covet those of others. I want my kitchen.

Circumstances being what they are, Rafa and I are only guests, or how I sometimes see it: homeless. Sure, we have a comfortable place to live, but it is not ours and that wears on me. We have been in a long limbo waiting for opportunities to manifest and we still have some time to go. So we wait, and I ache for a kitchen of my own.

Normally, my kitchen would be stocked with a plethora of good-for-you goodies. I love cooking healthy because going out meant splurging on a hamburger, chicharrónes, a plate of prosciutto and cheese, or any number of tasty delicacies I wouldn’t necessarily make (although Rafa savoringly raves about my hand packed hamburgers.) For the most part, what we eat out is what we don’t normally have, but since I have not been cooking, I miss a nice healthy meal of food I feel good about.  Enter Jardín Del Parque .

Jardín Del Parque was, oddly enough, right under my nose all along but it took me, and my never-ending search for good eats, to tentatively begin talking to (and then never seeming to shut up) to the owner, whom I met at the Feria Verde. I am horribly self-conscious about my limited Spanish and pointing at everything I see with a childlike “¿Qué es eso?” Then someone speaks English to me and I start chattering away like a monkey in a tree looking for a treat. Needless to say, English is widely spoken at this restaurant.

Only open since the beginning of the year, this lovely establishment is set east of the Parque de National tucked into a small hotel of the same name. The eating area is under a wonderful custom-made bamboo tent, made by the same person who built their tables and chairs. One of my biggest pet peeves about  eating around here are wobbly tables. I have shimmed countless tables to keep my food from sliding around but these are perfectly sturdy and something I would even invest in for my future home…*sigh*

Sometimes I find vegetarian food a little lacking (like meat) but you will not miss your portion of protein with these flavorful meals. Not only is the food tasty but everything is organic, locally grown, free of refined sugar or artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated fats, artificial colors, artificial flavors and GMOs. Basically, just like I make!

The plato del dia is an ever-changing delicious offer of all that is good in the world. The meal includes a starter of soup or salad and a generous main meal with a choice of drink. The day I went, I had a mushroom risotto that I still long for. Curious about good fresh mushrooms, I was told these were a combination of some personally grown and farm produced from around Cartago. Oh, how I love mushrooms.

I plowed halfway through this before I remembered about taking a picture.

The drinks are wonderfully creative mixing fruit and spice to tantalize your taste buds, like ginger mango, or blackberry cinnamon.  There is fine coffee and loose tea (no commercial tea bags here) should you need something to chase away the cool blast of afternoon showers. Since those showers can linger a bit, be sure to add one of their sweet and savory desserts too. I have been finding that my sweet tooth is being refined with my added consumption of Costa Rican made chocolate. It’s not the sweetness I crave, but the depth and complexity of flavor. Needless to say, all the chocolate used at Jardín Del Parque comes from the finest chocolatiers (more on that soon!)

I tend to take my time through the menu since it all looks divine. Open Monday through Friday (because weekends are for decadence) from 11am to 7pm. Be sure to check daily specials on their Facebook page and drool over the luscious pictures they post. Luckily, all this is a short jaunt from where we live. I have a feeling I will be making this place a regular escape. If they get their wifi up, I may just take up permanent residence.

Lubnan: A Hankering for Hummus

I started this blog because, well…it’s fun chronicling and consuming my way through Costa Rica, but also I found such a lack of information (and misinformation) about what was out there in term of the whole gastronomic experience. I mean, who the hell writes for Lonely Planet and when was the last time they updated their CR food section?  Frommers is no better either, and they have a puny restaurant guide too. So for those of you who are making a go at it here in CR, regardless of where you originated from, let me tell you… Costa Rica is poised to be the culinary capital of Central America. I truly believe that. So keep reading my posts, and I will prove it too.

For instance, who would have thought, here in downtown San Jose, you could get Lebanese food! Ok…the surprise may not be the place itself, but how I now crave grilled lamb. From the outside, it’s a nondescript little place tucked on Passo Colon, the main (and freshly paved!) road into downtown. It’s easy to miss and even harder to park, but if you can overcome those tiny little obstacles, it’s worth it.

Inside, you are transported to another world of fez wearing waiters luring you into the dimly lit, cozy dinning area. There you can sit at tables or cushions on the floor (better to smoke your hookah) and be lulled by the exotic sounds of a kanun. Or was it a rebab? Either way, you are far from the craziness of the Central Valley. I am not an expert on Lebanese food, but I know I like it. So if your mediterranean tastes are more defined than mine feel free to pick one of the dishes off the menu. BUT if like myself, it all looks so damn good, go for the mezza entre. This meal is listed for two, but easily serves more. It is basically a table full of all that is on the menu, served in small dishes.

Fantastic Falafel

And when I say table full, I’m not kidding. There had to be 16 dishes of hot and cold items, not to mention a big basket of pita, covering our table and everything was fresh and flavorful. Rafa and I have always been the couple that swaps plates mid meal, but with the mezza, all you do is share and nibble and drink and just enjoy. Few more glasses of wine, and I would have been sharing with the table next to me too. I could graze on the mezza at least one a week.

So if tabbouleh, baba ghanoush, kibbeh, luscious lamb, and grilled kabobs make you drool, make some reservations and hump down there (get it!…camel…hump….nevermind).

Paseo Colón, Cs. 22-24, Paseo Colón, San José, 10103

2257-6071 (Don’t even bother with thier Facebook page. It sucks.)

Festival Cerveza Artesanal!

Wow. No, really…wow. I know I have a tendency to be overly upbeat about things but it’s tough not to be optimistic here. At least for me. But when I heard about the Festival Cerveza Artesanal, I dare say I was worried. I wanted it so much to be good that I was even thinking about not posting about it if it was bad. Luckily, I didn’t have to worry about that. It was fucking great.

Not only was it great, it blew my expectations out of the water, especially since it’s the first EVER here in Costa Rica (maybe even in Central America). I have gone to my share of beer festivals and some have come to near riots when beer ran out midway through the event, so when Rafa and I finally got there, nearly four hours after it started, I was a tad panicked. People packed under a long sprawling tent lined with beer vendors, most of which I never heard of. I was vibrating with excitement.

The event was organized by Product C, seafood restaurants, and Costa Rica Craft Brewery. Both highly successful and perfection driven companies that broke into the new market of Costa Rica. Many of the brewers that participated were just fledgling businesses, with no distribution yet, and even others were only personal brewing enthusiasts. With a limited amount of tickets being sold, it made the whole event quite intimate. People where there for the love of good beer.

Ticket holders were given one of two booklets to rate the beers. The “VIP” tickets allowed access to the full selection of  beers, while the rest were only allowed to sample eight. Since the “VIP” tickets were already sold out, Rafa and I were relegated to the lower class. Based on past beer festival experience, I told Rafa not to offer the booklet unless asked. We pretty much weaseled our way into all we wanted to try. I guess it also helps to tell them you are going to give them free advertising too. What really surprised me the most was the variety of beer. Each vendor went out of their way to produce some unique and amazing brews. There were porters, stouts, reds, divine pale ales, and a delicate petite saison by fellow blogger and beer lover Thristy Pilgrim. I was blown away. There was a cacao stout on the VIP list who initially refused my request, but I got it anyway in the end (nah, nah) and malpais pale ale  by La Perra Hermosa, that was out of this world. Look for Treintaycinco to break into the market on creativity and sheer enthusiasm alone, not to mention they swept up many of the awards in the festival.

Treintaycinco gang

Volcano Brewery looks to be the next big craft beer on the market and will be giving CRCB a run for their money. Competition is good. It keeps quality up. I could go on and on about these brewers but I am going to let you in on a little secret. I plan on trekking to and posting about each one. What better way to get the word out there?!

In the meantime fellow Costa Ricans and parched expats, should you have the initiative to try brewing your own batch be sure to look into La Bodega de Chema for all your beer brewing needs. I can think of no better way to learn Spanish than taking a class on how to brew beer. I feel truly sad for those of you who missed this opportunity BUT fret not! All it takes is for you to demand good beer and well, look for it. If you drink it, they will brew it. Check out the links I have posted and make connections. Life is too short to drink crappy beer, especially in paradise. Stay thirsty my friends.

Product C calamari to die for!

The Panama Parallel

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Yea we’re runnin’ a little bit hot tonight I can barely see the road from the heat comin’ off of it.

Sorry. Still got the song in my head. Seriously, how can you not be happy in Panama. Granted, when the friends you are staying with have a palatial home overlooking the valley, not to mention a sweet little private rental on the ocean too, its tough to wipe the dopey smile off my face. I had an amazing time, with amazing people. It’s not often that things work out so beautifully, and you have no idea how thankful I am they did.

Certainly, the whole trip got me thinking. I am seriously smitten with Panama but it was funny to observe the differences between the two countries. Now, I never got to go into Panama City. I bounced between the highlands and the ocean, so this is not a comprehensive view. So keep that in mind. I’m still getting my bearings in Costa Rica and it’s been over a year and a half.

The first thing that really struck me was how puny the local farmers market was as compared to Costa Rica. Not only small, but not necessarily that fresh either. On the rare occasion I saw brocoli, it was brown and limp. Even the fruit was off, or should I say, not to Costa Rican standards. I was baffled. Here I was in the middle of this amazing tropical valley, and the mangos looked nasty and a guanábana cost over $5!  Go into a local grocery and you will see endless amounts of canned food from every corner of the world and a teeny space for fresh produce. I needed an explanation and this was the consensus:

Because of the canal, Panama can import food cheaper than it is to grow and because they can import anything, what you get is an enormous amount of shelf stable food. Add to that, Panamanians don’t seem to eat fresh vegetables either. It’s a very starch based diet; yucca, potatoes, yams, cassava, some pasta and tons of rice. Even the ubiquitous red peppers (chili dulce) were absent in Panama. The protein is chicken/eggs, or fish. I saw little beef and next to no pork.  My recommendation to the traveler coming to Panama, go for the fish. They may not grow a lot but they certainly know how to fish and I had some amazing seafood. Also surprising, I thought the street food was rather…meh. Think lots of rather bland starch and canned meat.

Overall, Costa Rica has a wider diet, better fresh selection, and many more options for those who are conscientious eaters. People raved about Panama being cheaper, but in the long run (and because I don’t really eat a lot of shelf stable food) I found prices to be about equal, if not more for certain fresh products. While doing a grocery run with my hosts, I commented on how cheap booze was. It’s nearly half the price it is in Costa Rica with double the selection. I saw a bottle of excellent Scotch $20 cheaper than in the US! As explained by my friends…that is why people are so happy in Panama. The US influence in Panama is evident everywhere, especially in the developement of infrastructure. Panama just looks nicer. Then again, I am hanging out with great people, drinking good booze, swimming in the ocean, trekking through the jungles, having an amazing time…what’s not to love!

As I set back to Costa Rica, the rainy season started. The trip back was uneventful. I wore the Panama hat I bought for Rafa’s birthday as I bobbed around the bus station looking for him over the groggy throngs and eager taxi drivers. I am so happy when I see him I nearly cry.

“I didn’t see you get off the bus,” he says squeezing me,  “but I saw this Panama hat weaving through the crowd and I knew that was my girl.”

It’s good to be home.


Insert Van Halen riff

(dramatic pause while you rock out)

Yes. I traveled back to Panama. While I still love Bocas del Toro, this was my first trek to the Pacific side. And my first adventure without Rafa. Now, I write a lot about my travels and well…that’s what you need to do to consume a country (or multiple countries as this may be). So here you go: the Costa Rica, Panama parallel.

Rafa drops me off at the Tica bus station an hour before midnight to catch the red-eye to Panama. He lingers with me and reviews the litany of information he has given me should disaster strike. I stay quite, knowing I am fully capable of whatever craziness comes my way, but also touched at his tender concern. Still, bus travel is rather new to me. Add on that my shitty Spanish, well you never know.

The bus is big. I settle into my hard-fought after window seat and send a final wave to Rafa outside. Strangely enough a Brit plops down next to me and immediately asks to give up my seat for his girlfriend across the aisle. Um, no. He shrugs it off and continues to chat incessantly away. I thought Brits were more reserved. You know, that whole stoic persona. Nope, not this one. I was rather excited about my trip so he viewed my perkiness as an invitation. Apparently, he took a great exception to his “around the world vacation”, at least his part in Latin America, and was more than happy to prattle on about all the ills he suffered, much to the chagrin of other passengers who wanted to sleep away the ride. To tell you the truth, I think his girlfriend was quite pleased to be seated next to a snoring Tico.  It was a long sleepless ride.

For those of you who have never crossed a Latin American land border, my level of writing could never fully encapsulate the experience. Airports are bright, mostly air-conditioned, and contained in a neat package. Land borders have an aire about them similar to the Twilight Zone, “a mixture of self-contained drama, psychological thriller, fantasy, science fiction, suspense, or horror, often concluding with a macabre or unexpected twist”. It’s one of those life experiences that everyone should go through. The Brit was getting it first hand. Sure you may want to fly out of Panama City to Australia, but not having that proof of departure can make for a surreal experience. And why, oh why, must people believe that talking louder makes understanding a foreign language any easier? Being next in line, I smiled and handed over my passport. They stamped it and handed it back over without ever asking me a single question. Que the Twilight Zone music.

The next challenge for me was getting dropped off where I needed to go and not making the whole trip to Panama City. With the shrill voice of the Brit bouncing around the station, I saddled up next to the bus driver and as sweetly as I could muster in my broken Spanish asked him to drop me at km 97. With no luggage in the hold, it would be an easy stop and I batted my lashes for all they were worth. With the issue of the Brit being settled, and people eager to get moving, the driver softened like a puppy.

I found the Pacific side of Panama to be oddly beautiful. It was an endless landscape of dry rolling hills getting larger and larger until they met the spine of mountains in the center of the country. It was cattle land but I saw little livestock and even less agriculture. Go anywhere in Costa Rica and food production is packed into every available space. It’s not uncommon to find coffee growing in empty lots in the middle of San Jose. I tried to pick out produce stands but saw few in the four hours before my stop. The roads were butter smooth and there was very little trash around, even cleaner than Costa Rica. Another thing I found interesting, the cops. They are everywhere! They even stopped the bus…twice! It wasn’t even a shaken down. Just a passport check. And they LOOK like cops. In San Jose it’s easy to mistake a cop. For the most part, they look pretty goofy. They are almost always texting or chatting on their phones, looking disinterested. The female cops always make an effort to glam up their uniforms with dayglow make-up and flashy jewelry. I’m not kidding. I live practically next door to a police station. Never, have I once seen them ever do anything. Even when things are going blatantly wrong around them. But the Panama po-po is paramilitary. Let me ask you: Who would you take more seriously? The cop with neon blue eyeshadow and door knocker earrings, or the fatigue wearing, automatic weapon welding guy who probably had relatives in the School of the Americas?

By the time km 97 came up, I had endeared myself with the driver and was given many flirtatious glances. After a handful of seats freed up after the border, I had been blissfully Brit free for the rest of my journey into Panama (I also got the distinct impression he was a little miffed at me for “abandoning” him at the border…Sheesh, men can be difficult about things).  When I got off the bus the air was like a hot slap to the face. The driver registered my concern and asked if I was going to be alright. I recomposed myself and flashed a grin. “Of course!” I’m in the middle of no where with a backpack and a phone number of my destination and a limited grasp of the native language. Don’t they realize you can conquer the world with cleavage and smile?

Getting yer Irish on

Green beer at Stan's!

Saint Patrick’s Day has always been a favorite of mine. More so than any of the “big” holidays. Not only is it a time for copious amount of beer and sweet reverie, but as fortune would have it, it is also the day a Latino leprechaun stole my heart. I had never been a big believer in luck or fate, but that day certainly marked a huge and wonderful turning point in my life. I still consider myself very lucky, even with all the crazy challenges here. So crank up some Flogging Molly or Pouges and get yourself ready for a wee bit o’ fun.

Stan’s Irish Pub

Last year, Rafa and I inadvertently stumbled into Stan’s with the thought of a quick beer and an early night. Oh, how wrong we were. It was a banner night and it led to many wonderful discoveries, which I posted last year here. I like Stan’s and I like Stan. He is a great guy and he runs a good business. Besides, this is my hood now and even though I have mellowed these past years, I like having a neighborhood bar.  If you find yourself on the Eastside of the valley, Stan’s is the place. I know there are other places around that may be hipper or newer, but no one will have a world-class bagpipper gracing their establishment making me weep and want to go into battle at the same time.

Time Out Tavern

I have recently given them snaps here. But what I had failed to include (because I finally diverted from my hamburgers and wings) was their awesome reuben sandwich. I don’t know what it is about March and my sudden craving for fermented cabbage, but it happens every year. Sauerkraut is an acquired taste and it is certainly not on the in Tico diet, but I love it, and strangely enough, so does Rafa.  Not only that, this sandwich is huge! Big ol’ pile of corn beef and kraut! It may not have been on the dark rye bread I am use to, but it was still damn good!

Granted, there are other places around Costa Rica but these are my suggestions. Besides, I’m not going to endorse a place I have not been to. I will get to them and vet them carefully. I do have standards, you know!  Rest assured, both offer good food and have Costa Rica Craft Beer on tap too (a MUST). The best part is that CRCB has brewed a batch of stout specially for St. Patrick’s Day. Guinness is certainly a go-to but do yourself a favor and down a pint of CRCB stout. It’s divine. I have been lucky to see and visit parts of this country that maybe are not necessarily on the radar of the typical tourist/expat. At least in my research, there has been nothing that touched on what I wanted to know. Maybe this little blog, with its tidbits about Costa Rica, will help you get lucky too. I can only hope.   

May your days be many and your troubles be few. May all God’s blessings descend upon you. May peace be within you may your heart be strong. May you find what you’re seeking wherever you roam.

Trying NOT to be consumed

I had to post this. Just a small change of pace from eating to being eaten. Anyone, and I do mean ANYONE who has lived here has suffered at the ferociousness of the mosquito. I spent my first few months here dappled with bites. Live here long enough and you do develop a bit of a tolerance, but who hasn’t been woken up with the WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE of those little fuckers in your ear, or dancing on your face. Turn on the light and poof, like that. They’re gone (said in my best Kevin Spacey voice). I have waged midnight wars, flailing around, slapping myself silly. Begged for screens. Put up mosquito netting. Used bug spray like perfume. All to no avail.

Not a fan of chemicals, I have steered clear of DEET. DEET (N,N-Diethyl-3-methylbenzamide),can cause potential neurotoxicity to humans, especially when DEET-based repellents are used in combination with other neurotoxic insecticides. The EPA concluded  that, as long as consumers follow label directions and take proper precautions, insect repellents containing DEET do not present a health concern. Unfortunately, you never really know what you are getting here, so I have just been airing on the side of caution. I have seen many places mix and sell their own natural concoctions and I have found them to be quite effective. My problem is the application, or should I say the routine application. It’s not uncommon to find me sunburned and bug bitten.

So far, I haven’t suffered from any ill effects, but this is the tropics and dengue, malaria, and yellow fever are certainly flying around here. Not necessarily in the Central Valley, but the coastal areas and all the crazy places tourists like to think they are exploring. Outbreaks of dengue fever have been reported annually from Costa Rica since 1993 and there was over 5000 case in 2011. Malaria, not so much. 2006 was the last outbreak and it was right where our cabinas are in the Caribbean. But lets face it, there will always be something chewing on you on a regular basis.

There are a myriad of products out there ranging from simple to extreme, but as a hardcore DIY kinda girl, I was giddy to find this article. As you read this, I will be putting these together and placing them strategically around. I am hoping in combination with making sure there is no standing water, blocked gutters, or anywhere else those little blood suckers like to breed, I will get some peaceful nights. Also, wordpress has added a global map on my statistics page and I have readers in Africa! How cool is that! So I hope this helps all of you too.

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