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Thursday, August 9, 2018

Weather in Hacienda el Paseo - July, 2018

A weather summary for the month of July and the period from the beginning of April to the end of July appears below.

The temperature reached 90°F on only one day and dropped to a low of 64°F on only two days. The number of days with rainfall (19) was coincidentally the same as that in June. However, in contrast to June, the total amount of rainfall in July was only a fraction of that in June - just over 5 inches compared to over 15 inches.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Breakfast at the Feria

This morning we went to the Grecia feria to have breakfast at one of the sodas - there are a number to choose from - and to walk around looking at all the gorgeous fruits and vegetables. You can also buy dairy products, breads, meats, fish, and plants and flowers, clothing and leather goods.

Most of the sodas do not have menus, but they may post what is available on a board. In any case, you need to know what you want to eat and you need to order in Spanish. We decided on coffee, scrambled eggs and gallo pinto. Cost for two meals was 6,000 colones, about $12 USD.

The coffee was super hot and strong, the way we like it. We drink our coffee black.

Here are our breakfasts (sorry that the picture is not in focus). You can see that the portions are generous. They also came with fried plantains, which are sweet and almost caramelized. We couldn’t finish all the rice and beans.

At the end of our meal, our server gave each of us a square of cajeta - a fudge like candy. I might try making these.

After breakfast, we wandered around. Rambutans are in season now (also known as mamon chino and lychee). I also bought a few mangosteens, because this is a fruit I hadn’t tried yet.

Rambutans on the left and mangosteens on the right:

Here is what they look like cut open. I like the mangosteen - it’s a bit tart.

Our final purchase was fresh flowers - gladioli and a white flower that I can’t identify. The flowers will continue to open up along the stem so it lasts for quite a while.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Road Trip to Zarcero, Alajuela, Costa Rica

We decided to drive to the town of Zarcero last Sunday morning. We hadn’t been there for a number of years and it’s a nice place to visit. From the center of Grecia to Zarcero is 39.1 km which isn’t far as the crow flies, but the winding, climbing mountain roads will add to the driving time. It’s a beautiful drive though.

Zarcero is at an altitude of 1736 m, so the temperatures are brisker than what we experience where we live. It’s an agricultural area - coffee, vegetables, dairy, cheese. There are two protected areas that attract tourists - the Juan Castro Blanco National Park and el Chayote Protected Zone. Another attraction is the Los Angeles Cloud Forest Reserve.

I think what Zarcero is best known for is all the topiary in the park in front of the church, Iglesia de San Rafael Arcangel. The church is beautiful, inside and out. We didn’t stay long because it started to rain but I managed to take a few pictures. 

Oops, I didn’t have time to smile!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Else Kientzler Botanical Gardens

Recently we visited the Else Kientzler Botanical Gardens, near the town of Sarchi. Before reaching the gardens, we passed by what seemed like acres of greenhouses. This is Innovaplant  a company that grows all sorts of ornamental plants that are shipped around the world. They also have a laboratory for developing new species of plants.

We were the only visitors at the time we were there - I imagine because it is the off season and we went during the week. So we had the entire place to ourselves and could stroll around at our own pace. Admittance fees are modest. Apparently you can have a guided tour and there is also a restaurant for lunch. This is a popular place to hold a wedding and we saw tents being taken down from a recent one. The venue is beautiful of course.

We didn’t go on all the trails because some were not suited to our footwear. Perhaps we’ll visit again and see what we missed the first time. So many species of plants/trees and everything is marked with it’s name. Highly recommend these gardens - gorgeous.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Our Bountiful Backyard

We have a lovely, very quiet backyard at our new house. I put my hammock under the orange trees and out of the sun. It’s so peaceful reading a book there.

We also have a lot of fruit trees, as do most properties in Costa Rica or so it seems. At our previous house, we had mangoes, bananas and oranges - although the oranges were tart and didn’t peel easily. They were good for juicing though.

Now we have mangoes, bananas, coconuts and oranges - the kind with loose skins so they peel very easily. I guess they are mandarins.

Immature orange:

Mature orange:

Coconut tree:


Bananas - not sure how we’ll get this bunch down. It’s up very high.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Weather in Hacienda El Paseo, June, 2018

We moved from Vista Atenas to Hacienda El Paseo on April 1, 2018. Weather records have been kept since that date but this is the first summary of those records. During April, May and June the weather moved from the end of the dry season to the midst of the "green" or rainy season.

Daytime highs are now generally lower - all because of significantly more cloud cover. All along, the "feels like" temperatures have been quite moderate. As the air temperature rises and gets quite hot where we are located (e.g. 92°F / 33°C on one day in early May) it is typically accompanied by a significant drop in relative humidity. The result is a "feels like" temperature ("heat index" in the U.S.; "humidex" in Canada) which is below the actual air temperature. In the interior of Costa Rica where we have lived, there is rarely a stifling combination of heat and humidity as can happen in the eastern U.S. and Canada.

With regard to rainfall in June, there were two days with over 2 inches, 5 days with between 1 and 2 inches, and 12 days with less than an inch. (1 inch = 2.54 cm / 2 inches = 5.08 cm).

The proximity of Hacienda El Paseo to the center of downtown Grecia can be seen here.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Costa Rican Restaurant in Chicago, U.S.A.

Check this out - a Costa Rican restaurant in Chicago! It’s named Irazu, Irazu being Costa Rica’s highest active volcano at 11,200 ft (3,432 m). We have been there and it is so cold at the top.

Irazu Restaurant was also featured on the Food Network show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. The episode is here.

So, if you are in Chicago or planning to be - try this restaurant out for a taste of authentic Costa Rican cuisine.