So it turns out that the people of Costa Rica love avocados, and my prediction of guacamole for breakfast, lunch, and dinner was correct. I was staying at a resort (for my cousin's wedding) which isn't a real indicator of what people eat in Costa Rica, but I did manage to leave the resort a few times, and when I asked a local what he typically eats in a day he replied 'In Costa Rica we like to eat all of our meals with a side of avocado'.
I was pretty obsessed with guacamole when I was there, probably because there were bowls strategically placed around the resort with salsa verde, guacamole, and chips. I added avocado to everything (just like the Costa Ricans do), and then I left Costa Rica and returned home with not only a splotchy tan but also food poisoning. For the past week, I have not been able to look at an avocado without giving it the dirty eye. I am sure it wasn't the guacamole that ruined my insides, but sometimes you develop these arbitrary associations when you get ill. It's usually the last thing that you've eaten that forms the negative association, regardless of whether it was really the culprit. Good news! I seem to be on the mend now, actually yesterday was my first 'normal' day, and funny enough, I woke up craving guacamole. Yesterday for lunch, I shoveled this delicious guacamole with a pineapple into my mouth standing in the kitchen, trying to type an email from my phone. I added some pineapple, which gives it a subtle sweetness that is incredible. The pineapple and the garlic create this wonderful flavor combination, and then with a dash of lime and salt, it all really comes together.
Besides eating my weight in guacamole, I did manage to do some other things in Costa Rica. We flew into the Guanacaste region, which is on the Pacific side. This region is made up of volcanoes and dry forest. It is the area known for the cowboys, livestock, and ranches, which is not what I ever pictured Cost Rica to be. The rain forest is on the opposite side, the Caribbean, and that is where all of the interesting wildlife lives.
It took us 11 hours to fly there, with a connection in between. We flew the red eye, and I was able to sleep most of the way. The week preceding our departure was full of stress, tears, and panic. We put in an offer on a house, and it was accepted a week before we left (surprise!) more on that later. This gave us only a week to prepare documents, pull together a down payment, etc. To make a long story short, the day after our offer was accepted, Brent flew to California for a management training work retreat in the mountains. And if there is anything we know about the mountains, there is usually no cell signal. He spent the week frantic, running around the woods like a crazy person, trying to find cell signal. I think he eventually found a dusty old fax machine in one of the boy scout cabins that was to send documents.
The Friday we were scheduled to fly, we had arranged to sign our documents earlier in the day. We were all ready to go, and everything was set, until Bank of America decided that they would not do a wire transfer over $1000. Brent had to run half way across Seattle to the Bank of America (because I was caught in rush-hour trying to drop off my dog at a friends), and right as BOA were locking their doors, he banged on the door begging them to let him in. Luckily we got a cashiers check, but then we had to drop it off at a friends, and by now, we were pushing for time. We rushed to the airport, barley making our flight, me almost shitting my pants in sheer panic. Everything worked out though, and we are now slowly spackling, sanding, and painting our way to a new fresh house.
A few days after we settled into vacation mode and the stress wore off, and after drinking our weight in margaritas, my family arrived to the resort. This definitely made the whole 'staying at a resort' worth it. I was so distracted by my little niece and nephew that I didn't have time to pay attention to anything else that was going on. The weather was spicy hot, which made the sand and all surfaces like walking on molten rock. Brent and I woke up early each day to beat the heat, and to begin our quest in search of the sea turtles. It was the only reasonable time of day to do anything productive. The rest of the day was spent either by the pool, in the ocean, or in our air conditioned room, napping. It was pretty relaxing.
Half way through the trip, after we ate at every restaurant and saw every show in the resort, and developed weird blotchy sun burns, we decided to book a tour to
, where we went zip lining through canyons and relaxed in some natural thermal water baths. Our guide spoke exceptional English, so I spent the whole drive there playing the game, I'll ask you a hundred questions about Costa Rica and hopefully you wont eventually kick me off the bus.
We were able to stop at a local village. I spent some time in the grocery store, which made me really happy. We stopped for some coyol, a drink made from fermenting the sap from the coyol palm tree. The fermentation process doesn't produce a very high alcohol content, but coyol contains enzymes that can cause similar effects as alcohol. Our guide told us that the effects of coyol increase once you step into the sun. It's even said that the day after you drink, if you spend too much time outside, you'll become drunk again. I wasn't a fan of the taste.
We stopped on the side of the road near a bunch of cashew trees. I had no idea that cashews are a fruit! The fruit looks like a pear hanging upside down. Attached to the bottom of the fruit is a cashew encased in a hard shell. The shell contains urushiol oil, the same oil as in poison ivy, so much care is needed when processing in the plant. The employees who are handling the fruit, must wear goggles, and protective gloves. The fruit is soft with a thin skin and tastes like sweet cashew. The whole thing amazed me.
We arrived at Rio Perdido, where we were thrown around like rag dolls being zipped up and fastened into harnesses. We zip lined, swung across on Tarzan swings, and walked across hanging rope bridges. My sister filmed the whole thing, and I promise that you will never see it, because I am in hysterics, and it is mildly embarrassing. We finished off the day in the most beautiful natural hot springs, which seems like a bad idea in the intense heat, but they actually did a remarkable job at cooling you down. It was perfect.
After such success with the tour, we decided to book a sunset snorkeling trip for our last day. Unfortunately, false advertising got the best of us, and we ended up on a giant party catamaran, which would have been awesome if I was 19 and looking to get smashed and make out with a local. I wanted to see wildlife, and enjoy some peace. We didn't see anything too exciting while snorkeling, a few fish, and and some jellies. On land, a local had caught a small octopus, which he assured me that he was going to let it go free. Locals were feeding wild raccoons, as some sort of tourist gimmick thing, and to be honest, the whole thing kinda weirded me out.
On the final night of our trip, we set out on the beach one last time to try and find the famous sea turtles laying their eggs, that we had been hearing so much about. We walked the beach one way, and then back, with no luck. Just as we were about to head back, I had a weird feeling that we should take one more look. We went to the far right side of the beach, looking around like fools with the light shining from Brent's cell phone. We then heard a soft voice whispering 'tortuga, tortuga'. We walked back into the trees, and there she was, a beautiful sea turtle swatting and flailing her flippers, trying to bury her eggs in a giant hole in the sand. It was one of the most beautiful things that I have ever seen, and at that moment, I new the trip had been a success.
I wasn't able to snap a pic of the sea turtle because it was dark, and all I had was a cell phone, and it seemed weird to be taking photos of this beautiful creature trying to lay a whole lot of eggs, so instead, I have inserted a picture of a lizard. Seems close enough.
makes 1 1/2 cups
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
2 small limes
1/2 tsp salt
Cut the avocados in half, and remove the pits. Scoop the avocado into a bowl, and mash with a fork. Add the garlic, pineapple, juice from 2 small limes, and salt. Combine.
Serve with tortilla or plantain chips. Should be eaten right away, or stored in the fridge for a couple of hours. The avocado will turn brown quickly, one exposed to oxygen.