Tales from Costa Rica – Part 4

Published 27/10/2012 by julierkendrick

Tuesday morning dawn and I’m up and ready to meet my pirate Captain. Bounding downstairs I see Annie looking despondent and she tells me that the guy who runs the tours had phoned her to cancel the trip due to bad water conditions.

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!! It can’t be. But sadly it was true. I would not be sailing off into the sunset on the Black Pearl after all. ūüė•

We decided to drive into a little town called Zarcero where there is a beautiful church with quirky hedges out the front. The story goes that many years ago a homeless man started to cut the hedges to earn a little cash from the church. He was very talented and made them into little animals and arches. The locals loved it so much that when the old man died someone took over to keep his memory alive. To this day someone will always keep the hedges trimmed in the funny little shapes started by the homeless guy all those years ago.  What a lovely tale.

Zarcero church and hedges

Later that afternoon we went on a coffee tour. You can’t come to Costa Rica without going on a coffee tour. ¬†We drove through the driving rain until we came to Naranjo a little town where the coffee tour was held. We were the only ones there and the guide, Norman, opened up just for us and took us to see the whole process from bean to cup. ¬†He strapped a basket to my front and led us out to the coffee fields where I picked the red berries that house the beans. He showed me how to squish the berry between my thumb and finger and the bean popped out, yellow and sticky. On Norman’s instruction I ate the bean and found it very fruity¬†and¬†not at all¬†like¬†coffee.

One you have a basket full of berries they put them in a machine that strips the berry skins, leaving just the yellow beans which are then put in the roasting machine. ¬†This is where the beautiful smells take over and as we walked into the roasting room my mouth started to water with the waves of the warm aroma that filled my sinuses. We went over to a huge metal roasting machine and watched as the freshly roasted beans were poured into a huge vat to cool. Norman thrust his hand into the boiling hot beans (which I thought was an attempt to impress me with his ability to withstand pain), now brown from roasting, and grabbed a handful blowing on them and handed a few to me. “Taste, taste” he says excitedly. ¬†A little dubious I put the warm beans into my mouth and chewed and Oh wow!! They were¬†crisp and crunchy¬†and the flavour burst into your mouth like pure heaven. The were so easy to eat and not at all bitter and I had to resist plunging my own hand into the boiling bean vat and grabbing more to chew on. (I don’t think Norman would have been impressed with my¬†ability¬†to scream in pain like a little girl).

Once the beans were sufficiently cooled, 2 young girls scooped them into bags, sealed them up and that was that, ready to be sold. A simple but pure process. Of course I bought loads as I now felt a personal connection to those beans. Plus my husband will love the flavour.

Feeling quite happy we left the coffee tour and went to a little steakhouse called Marios where everyone knows everyone and Mario holds court going from table to table shaking hands with the men and kissing the women, he is a real latin charmer. Just as we were eating our pasta the table started to shake a little. I looked at Annie wondering why she was moving it. She looked at me probably wondering the same but then the table moved more and so did my chair. Oh my lord, an earthquake. SERIOUSLY?? I am from England, we don’t have earthquakes there. What am I supposed to do? Grab hold of a post? Lay on the floor? Run screaming into the street? I looked around the room but the diners were just holding steadily on to their tables and the waiters were catching the cutlery falling to the floor. No one outwardly panicked but I could see that the people were concerned. Within a minute it was all over and everyone went back to eating and drinking. Someone later shouted out that it had been a 6.6 which apparently is quite strong. I survived an earthquake. For the Ticos here it is just one of those things but to me a naive English chick it was a big event. I am a survivor of a real live earthquake. Well that’s what I’m going to tell my friends anyway. Ha ha.

Not long after we headed for home and our beds and as I lay there thinking back over the events of the day I realised that even without the luscious Johnny, the earth did move for me after all.

More tomorrow.

Julie ūüôā

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