When I lived in Ontario, I often suffered from migraines caused by the change in barometric pressure. I usually could tell if there was rain or wind on the way. My migraines were rarely, if ever, induced by food like so many of my fellow migraine sufferers. I find it interesting that since we've arrived in Costa Rica, I've not experienced one episode of headache trauma (for those who are blessed not to know what a migraine feels like, the use of the word 'trauma' is no exaggeration in my estimation). So, I'm not sure what the difference is as we certainly live through all kinds of barometric pressure change in the mountains. All I can say is that I'm ever glad that I've been spared so far.
Rolando invited us to visit his coffee plantation. We met him at his house in Santa Maria at 8:30 am and we jumped into Rolando's old Dodge diesel pick-up truck. His plantation is just north of San Marcos. It was beautiful and sunny today. October is coming to an end and summer is definitely in the air!
Most of the Dota region is dedicated to coffee growing. It's also considered the best coffee in the world. All hand picked and only the highest quality (ripe bean) is accepted in Costa Rica. Costa Rica owns only 4% of the coffee market. Due to the market saturation, the government has mandated that it will only export the very best, highest quality coffee. Kevin doesn't even like coffee (are you kiddin' me?)
As soon as we arrived at Rolando's coffee plantation, he quickly climbed an orange tree and started passing some oranges to Kevin. I thought he was just picking two or three for us to try, but he just kept throwing them down to Kevin. We have a whole sackful now. Roland also gave us several large avocados, some weird little yellow fruit and a big bunch of bananas, too. What are we going to do with all this fruit! I think we need to buy a freezer so I can make banana bread and freeze the loaves!
Kevin's never played baseball, but he'd make a great catcher!
And the sack poor Kevin had to lug around for the rest of our walk through the plantation. I would have offered, but I had my hands full with the camera :)
Coffee grows on large bushes. Green berry means it is not ripe. When the berry turns a deep, dark red, then it's ready to pick. The best time to harvest is in the summetime (January to March). Although, they do harvest pretty much all year-round depending on location and altitude.
A vulture high above.
We drove up in Rolando's truck all the way up to La Cruz (The Cross). In the 1940s or 1950s, the community walked a cow-pulling cart up a rutted road (it was rutted today, I can't imagine what it must have been like back then!) with cement to build this cross. It can be seen from a long way away in the Los Santos region (San Pablo, San Marcos, Santa Maria and other 'Saint' places that I still haven't memorized). At one point, Rolando took the wrong turn and we had to reverse all the way down the hill. There was a steep cliff on Kevin's side (the passenger side) and a steep vertical mountain hillside (upwards) on Rolando's side with a dirt gully. How Rolando managed to reverse and not drive off in either direction is a feat for sure. I was impressed (after holding my breath the whole way down). Once we were able to turn around and drive up to the cross... the Catholic in me bubbled to the surface and I felt rather grateful.
The Learning Center in Copey (10 minutes from where we live) is actively looking for English teacher volunteers. If you or anyone you know is interested in this amazing opportunity and enriching experience, please contact Seidy or Angela directly. All details below:
Volunteer EFLTeachers Needed in Costa Rica Starting February 2013
Friends of Nature Copey Learning Centre is a non-profit educational center dedicated to promoting social development through the learning of English as a Foreign Language. We offer programs to community members of all ages in the areas of
EFL, environmental education and cultural development in order to foster social sustainability. Our school was founded and is run by community members of Copey de Dota.
LOCATION: Our community school is located in the town of Copey de Dota in the beautiful Zona de los Santos, Costa Rica. We are about an hour and a half south of the capital of San Jose, in the heart of the coffee growing region of Costa Rica. Our town is set in a national forest reserve amidst dramatic scenery and lush vegetation, and nearby Parque Nacional de los Quetzales.
WHEN: We are looking to fill positions starting this February 2013 for a period of 3 months to one year.
Native English Speaker.
Bachelor of Education or EFL certification (if EFL certified, teaching experience is required).
Willingness to integrate with the local community
Experience living and working independently.
Because we are community-based, there is no fee to volunteer with us nor can we offer a salary. Instead, our program will provide:
Transportation from the San José Juan Santamaría airport or your current location to the community.
Lodging and 3 meals per day. Accommodation includes a private room and laundry facilities.
Ongoing support from the school Board members in what the volunteer might require during their stay.
The volunteer is responsible for their flight to and out of Costa Rica and medical insurance for the duration of their stay.
Our volunteers teach an average of 20 hours per week. Our program is offered to the general community and as such, student ages can vary from toddlers to retired adults.
To learn more about our Learning Center, visit us online www.copeylearningcenter.org
Please apply by emailing your resumé and references to Seidy Rodríguez at firstname.lastname@example.org or Angela Tribus at angela@ copeylearningcenter.org.
While we were in the car today, we turned on the radio. There are 3 stations that play predominantly English songs, but not 100% of the time. Well, as we were listening (and sometimes singing along to old 1980s tunes), a song we've never heard before came on. Neither of us said anything for quite awhile. Then, Kevin turned to me and said with frustration in his voice 'what is this guy saying, I don't understand a word he's singing'.... I replied 'something about the moon because I heard him say...luna.' Kevin looks at me and says 'he's singing in Spanish?... that didn't even occur to me!' Bless him. I couldn't help but laugh out loud.
I fried up our two fresh eggs and we had one each, on toast. How very satisfying and delicious. Then, I boiled some corn on the cob, dowsed in butter and sprinkled with salt and pepper. As more and more vegetables grow in our garden, we will have more variety to choose from. Life is good. We feel very blessed, indeed.
I wish I could properly capture the 'Avatar-like' lighting that goes on here. It's so surreal. Neither of these pictures was taken with a flash during a downpour. I can't express how bright it really is. It's as though a yellow filter was added to the atmosphere. I'm not sure we'll every stop being amazed by it.
Martín taught me the classic art of basket weaving this morning. We had decided to meet at his restaurant, so I walked up our long driveway, down the road and over the river across the log (which is now a breeze to do with the handrail) and had my first lesson. Martín had already gathered and cut the thin pieces of wood. Unfortunately, since I didn't follow him into the forest to see what he cut, and the language barrier is still too severe, I was unable to understand what type of tree it came from or what method he used to get these long thin strips. I will have to ask Nacho to translate next time. However, Martín did show me how to start a basket and the trick to weaving it. Once you see it done, you realize it's pretty simple, but the craft is sadly being lost. The kids nowadays don't care about such things. It's sad to see traditions like these disappear, especiaily since these baskets are incredibly useful. People used to use them for coffee and blackberry picking (replaced by plastic buckets, such a shame!), to carry wood, for laundry... a multitude of uses. All natural and last practically forever. Our neighbour, Holly, has inherited several large baskets from her mother. Martin made them over 20 years ago and they still look new. We also inherited some from the previous owners and we use them to hold our wood near the fireplace. They are very sturdy and can handle heavy loads.
So, Martin showed me how to get the bottom of the basket woven together and then he folded the pieces that will make up the sides of the basket over and under the bottom portion. He said we had to wait at least an hour before continuing to let these pieces bend properly. At that point, it was getting close to lunchtime and he and Clara had to get ready for customers. I thanked him for taking the time to show me. We will resume tomorrow. Maybe this is a craft I can show our guests, if they're interested, and they can take home a small basket as a souvenir? We'll see.
We have a two-day booking in February! First an egg... and now a booking... this is a pretty sweet day.
May I introduce you to our first freshly laid egg! I guess being their maid has its rewards afterall. It's quite small so we're not sure if that is a result of the kind of hen laying the egg, the fact they are not all pumped up with hormones, or if the first eggs are trial size ;) We shall see. Hopefully the rest of the hens will follow suit. We're told hens lay one egg every 25 hours (anytime during the day or night). This is very eggciting! (Sorry... I'm not one for puns, yet for some reason, I'm quite happy to be corny this morning).
This is the Magnificent Hummingbird, sitting on our clothes line, just outside our office. Kevin and I have never actually seen a hummingbird sit still before. They are always flapping their wings and hovering or darting from one flower to another. This was a first for both of us. It appears that I need to buy a better zoom lens. The image is very poor quality from the severe cropping I had to do. The glare you see to the right is from my flash. When I got outside, it was still sitting there, but as I crept up, trying to get closer, it flew away.
That's our greenhouse, which sits on an island in the middle of our largest pond. This is the view we see from the back of our house. We count our lucky stars every single day!
This is my nemesis... the outdoor wood oven. I still have yet to figure out how to use it. Someday... I will master it. In the meantime, it looks cool.
Frankie relaxing after a fun day of running around in our 'yard'. With all this rain, she gets very muddy. She's not allowed in the house until I give her a bath. She is both the dirtiest dog... and the cleanest dog... all within the same day.
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Dave and Krista are a couple from the Pacific Northwest that led overwhelmingly busy lives.
Click here to pick up your copy of Anne's book! It's all about their adventure and the establishment of Hush Valley Lodge: from leaving their middle-class suburban lifestyle in Canada to reinventing themselvess in the beautiful mountains of Costa Rica. Check it out and if you enjoy it, please spread the word! Thanks!