Johnny Depp

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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

Tales from Costa Rica – Part 3

Published 26/10/2012 by julierkendrick

So, you remember the story so far? Finally arrived, no case, went to bed? Good. So I got up in the night for a pee and what was outside my bedroom door? Yaaaay my suitcase. It had been delivered at midnight, although how the guy found this house I will never know. There are no road names and few decent road signs. You just have to direct people by landmarks. i.e. turn right at Charly’s bar then go north down the pothole road and it’s the pink house on the right. Madness. But hey I was happily reunited with my clean underwear.

Showered and smelling of Molton Brown gorgeousness I came downstairs to the smell of french toast and maple syrup. I ate on the back porch looking over stunning views of the rainforest and the mountains. Absolutely breathtaking.

We then went to visit some friends of Annies who lived about half an hour away. They are Cubans who move to Miami 40 years ago and then to CR 5 years ago. They are what the locals call “Gringos”. I am told that this is not an insult but a name used to differentiate between the¬†indigenous¬†and those from other American countries. The Costa Ricans are called “Ticos” and the Nicaraguans “Nicos”. Any (pronounced Annie) and Norman are a lovely warm couple who are completely devoted to their 5 dogs. 2 pugs called Joey and Matilda, a large red dog of unknown breed they call Red, an Alsatian called Osso and an old black Labrador called Nina (pronounced Nine-a).

After taking us for some lunch in the local tin shack where once again the food was outstanding (this waiter was lucky enough to possess a full set of teeth), we went for a drive up the mountain to see a river that flowed down the hills and was apparently a sight to behold. We drove for about 20 minutes higher and higher up a gradient that felt as though the 4 x 4 we were in was about to tip over backwards and I was holding on for dear life much to the amusement of the two Annies. We stopped at a rickety old bridge and got out. To the dismay of Any the water was completely brown and the banks beside it had sunk into the water during the recent landslides. There had been an earthquake here about 4 weeks before I arrived (more about earthquakes next time!!) and this was some of the effect that it had had on the beautiful landscape. As we could no longer climb down to the banks we headed back and decided to call on some more friends called Mike and Earl.

Mike and Earl are realtors who live in a mansion in the clouds. No I haven’t transported you to Enid Blyton’s mind they really do live in a fantastic Spanish hacienda cut into the side of a mountain. They had it built for themselves about 7 years ago and Earl, who is a very talented painter, filled the walls with his brightly coloured art. The main focal point of this residence is the amazing back porch on which they have a suspended day-bed facing out across the mountains. However when we arrived the clouds were low and the porch was obscured. After we had been there for a while the clouds parted and I was treated to the most magnificent views that really did take my breath away. A lump formed in my throat and at that moment I was truly glad that I was there and a feeling of complete peace came over me and I realised what a stunning world we live in. I am very blessed.

We drove back to Annies with a feeling of contentment and as I went to bed that night I thought about the forthcoming trip to Tortuga the next day. In my mind Captain Jack Sparrow would be there waiting for me to sail off into the sunset and I couldn’t wait.

The next morning another disaster befell us….

See ya next time

Julie ūüôā

PS Any excuse to put a pic of Johnny in my blog and I will take it ūüėČ