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Monday, November 18, 2019

Club Aleman de Costa Rica - Expo Fair

This past weekend - November 16 and 17, 2019 - the Club Aleman de Costa Rica (German Club of Costa Rica) held an expo fair at the National Convention Center in Alajuela.

Fifty plus companies were exhibiting - offering food, drink and crafts of German origin. In addition, there was an exhibition of services related to the economy and cultural exchange between Germany and Costa Rica. As an aside, there are many different clubs in Costa Rica for the expat - Canadian, USA, British, Dutch and Italian as examples.

We had been wanting to see the convention center so decided to go. Freeway traffic on this Sunday was good - but it can be a nightmare during the week. 

The grounds are beautifully landscaped:

These beauties are Dietes iridioides. The flowers last just one day:

One of the booths:

Too early for beer but you could get it:

There were booths selling chocolate, coffee, Christmas ornaments, sausages on buns, and all sorts of products - we decided on pretzels with spicy mustard. When I saw a fellow selling smoked fish, I had to stop. Here is his card:

It was trout he had smoked and it looked really tasty. So we bought trout, cream cheese with spinach and smoked trout mixed in, and a very nice green sauce to go on the fish. The sauce is made with honey, mustard, spinach, dill and balsamic vinegar. 

Not inexpensive but some things in life are worth a little splurge. Bruno lives in Escazu and he said if we wanted to get more, give him a call and we can visit him at his house. I guess that is where he does the smoking.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Eyes on Costa Rica and Weather Records - October, 2019

In October, visits to this blog were received from the following 14 countries:

The following is a summary of  weather for the month of October in the area where we live:

As expected, the rainy season continued in October. While there was at least some rain on most days, there were only 3 days without measurable rain. However, the total amount was less than that in September which had 9 days without measurable rain.

High and low temperatures were generally within the norm for October. However, it should be noted that these temperatures are measured in a truly shaded area of the property. There is no direct sunlight and reflected sunlight is minimal. On our patio which is partially shaded and where we spend a lot of our time, daily highs occasionally can be 5 to 10 degrees (°F) more than in the truly shaded area.

Nevertheless, higher temperatures on the patio are typically accompanied by significantly lower humidities than those in the truly shaded area. The result, if the measured temperature is 80 degrees or more, is a "feels like" temperature comfortably less than the measured temperature.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Asparagus, the Feria and the Soda

I’ve been on the hunt for fresh asparagus. Some expats have said they have found it at their ferias so we decided to see if anyone at our Grecia feria was carrying it today.

First order of the day - breakfast. We went to El Restaurante Griego, a soda run by a father, a mother and their son. It’s 100 m. north of the Peri Mercado and right on a corner. It is very popular with Costa Ricans, so one gets a taste of daily Costa Rican life. Another plus is that it opens early in the morning. The food is very good, typical soda food, and the prices so reasonable. While we were there, a lot of take out orders were being called in.

But I think what really makes this restaurant are the owners. They are so friendly and personable and you will be greeted with a handshake on arrival and  the usual pleasantries are exchanged - how are you? Fine, thank you. And you? All is good. But it is in Spanish: ¿Como estas? Bien, gracias. ¿y usted? Todo bien. The owner has some English. It’s our favourite soda.

Here’s the menu (photo by Brian Cordoba on Google Maps):

I had the omelette and gallo pinto, but I asked for just a small portion of the pinto. Lance had two eggs and gallo pinto but his serving was huge, took up half the plate. Impossible to finish in one go so we asked for take away (para llevar) and you can see below how much was left. It will feed the both of us tomorrow morning, with bacon and eggs. Our tradition is to have bacon, eggs and waffles on Sundays. We’ll skip the waffles this time.

Off to the feria. I so enjoy going to these weekly markets. Grecia’s is open on Friday from noon to 8pm and on Saturday from 4am to 1pm. Closed the rest of the week. First stop was a stand selling leather goods, purses, etc. Lance bought a new belt. Then we wandered around searching for asparagus - but nobody was carrying it. You can buy just about anything here - meats, breads, all manner of tropical fruits and vegetables, clothing, dairy products, sodas (the eating places) and so on. Plus it’s such a lively setting. We enjoy interacting with the sellers, some of whom speak English.

Here is what we purchased - red peppers, green beans, sixteen eggs and tamales. Two tamales tied together are called a piƱa.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Strawberries, Breakfast, Cows and Poas Volcano

On the recommendation of a friend, we decided on Friday to visit Bosques de Fraijanes - a recreational park on the slopes of Poas volcano.  The park has a lake and forests and hiking is popular. Another reason for a visit was to buy the luscious strawberries that are grown in the area. 

We left our house around 0730 - we wanted to have breakfast in the Fraijanes area. Freddo Frescas was recommended but instead we stopped at Restaurante Tipico de FraijanesIt was open and had lots of parking available so in we went. We were not disappointed.

It’s a very large restaurant and the interior is beautiful. I think it caters to a lot of tour groups and tour buses going up to Poas volcano.

The menus are in English or Spanish. We always choose Spanish because it forces us to read and order in Spanish. We no longer have much trouble doing this but if we get stuck, I have a translator on my phone. Our server was really nice.

We both ordered mora batido con leche and a desayuno tipico (typical Costa Rican breakfast). The mora is a fruit similar to blackberries and a batido is similar to a smoothie but you can have it made with milk or with water. We had ours with milk. Lance also ordered a coffee.

This breakfast was excellent. Starting from the left and going clockwise - two eggs, slice of local white cheese, toast, plantains and lastly the gallo pinto. I thought this gallo was really tasty but, as usual, the quantity defeats me and I can never finish the portion. This version had nice big pieces of cilantro in it. Total cost: 11,000 colones (about $18.84 USD). You can get similar breakfasts for less at the sodas but, as I said, this restaurant probably caters to tourists so the prices would be a bit higher.

A view from our table. Dark clouds were starting to come in. Sure enough, as we left the restaurant it started spitting rain.

Hydrangeas everywhere and always blue because of the soil.

Off we went to find the park and strawberries. At an elevation of between 3000 to 4000 ft., almost in the cloud forest, strawberries grow very well. The volcanic soil, temperature and the annual rainfall all contribute to big juicy berries. Coffee is another crop grown in this area. I’ve seen both strawberries and coffee grown under shade cloths. 

I’m not sure what’s under these shade cloths - strawberries or coffee, sometimes it’s tomato plants.

We found beautiful berries at a shop along the way. 2 mil for this container (2,000 colones, about $3.40 USD). I’ve seen much smaller sizes in our local grocery stores for a higher price and not as good looking.

We found the park but decided not to go in because of the rain. We’ll leave this visit for the dry season. The area around Poas is absolutely stunning. Dairy cows thrive here because of the cooler temperatures. Here is a cow tied up to a fence outside the field so she could eat the fresh green grass that was there. Several other cows were also tied up and none of them were bothered by the traffic going by or by me taking photos.

Breakfast was so good and the strawberries a real treat that we are going to make going to the Poas area a more regular occurrence. After all, it’s only about a 45 minute beautiful drive from our house.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Dental Visit

Since moving to Grecia from Atenas, we have been looking for a new dentist. On the recommendation of several expats in Grecia, we decided on Dr. Marco Vega Quesada. The reasons for this are that he speaks English, and is young which to me means he is up on all the newest treatments and has the latest equipment. Yes, yes - I know - my Spanish should be better but when it comes to dental/medical I prefer to converse in English so I don’t misinterpret anything important. Here’s his business card:

His offices are across from the cathedral and central park on the west side. The cathedral faces west (as do most churches here apparently) so you can orientate yourself that way. Dr. Vega is on the second floor of the building that also houses Pops ice cream and Kentucky Fried Chicken on the first floor. These are completely normal directions for Costa Rica.

He has a really nice receptionist and a small waiting room. There are three treatment rooms. Today I went for a cleaning and a consultation. The first treatment room I was in looked out onto a balcony and the park. They don’t skimp on air conditioning and I was told they would give me a blanket if I was too chilly. All the equipment was modern. Dr. Vega did the cleaning with help from an assistant. They work fast. Then it was off to another treatment  room for the x-rays.

Final cost for the cleaning, which included the x-rays, treatment assessment, polishing and a fluoride treatment - 40,000 CRC or about $70 USD.

My next appointment is in November to start the work for replacement of a crown (estimate, if I remember correctly, was less then 300,000 CRC or less then $520 USD.) And then we will go on from there.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Eyes on Costa Rica and Weather Records - September 2019

In September, visits to this blog were received from the following 27 countries:

This is the second month in a row where the total number of countries was unusually large. Also, the total number since November 2012 has increased to 128, the most recent being Kazakhstan identified above. The source of the one visit from Kazakhstan was not identified. The connection was probably by satellite internet.

The following is a summary of the weather for the month of September in the area where we live:

September and October are typically the worst months of the rainy season in Costa Rica. September was no exception. During the month we had two significant deluges - one on September 4 and the other on September 20, the latter of which produced a one day record downpour for the current year - over 3 inches (8 cm).

But, the deluge on September 4 which produced only about half the amount of rain on September 20 was even more remarkable. It was accompanied by very high winds. For a short time, the rain was literally blowing and whirling around sideways. The wind knocked over chairs and other stuff on our patio - almost like a mini tornado. Worse, it managed to drench and destroy the normally sheltered outdoor component of our digital thermometer. To keep outdoor records for the days which followed, we had to use the indoor component of the thermometer.

As of September 15 we received a new weather monitoring system. It not only measures and records high and low indoor and outdoor temperatures and humidities on a daily basis but also records rainfall on a daily, previous day, week, month, and all time basis. The "previous day" feature is great. In the past, we used a simple plastic tube rain guage. Consequently, some records for a given day might have included rainfall from late the previous night.

Friday, October 11, 2019

A Whacko Day

What a whacko day. We have a rental car because our car would not start (figured it was the starter motor or battery) and we didn’t know when Carlos our mechanic could attend to it. I needed a car as I had lots of errands to run. We use Adobe car rental in Grecia, using a taxi to get there. 

To call a taxi, I walk down and up the road to the front gates of our complex. I could ask for the taxi driver to come right to our house but that involves trying to explain to the dispatcher, in Spanish, that the driver should call my cell when he gets to the gates, and explaining that I will open a gate for him. Since I do just fine asking in Spanish for a taxi, giving my complete address, name and phone number - I leave it at that and get a bit of exercise.

Sometimes that doesn’t work though so one of the guards will talk to the dispatcher for me.

Carlos was supposed to be at our house today at 0830 but he was late, due to a longer then expected job on another car. He arrived at 1130 and determined the problem was our old battery. He jump started it and took it to his shop, leaving his car at our place.

Off we went to go to the ATM, picked up my meds at Caja (our medical system here), and paid the ICE bill (electric). Dropped Lance off at Carlo’s shop and I drove to Compre Bien (grocery store) because we are having lunch guests tomorrow and I needed supplies. Lance phoned me, our car was ready to go so he drove it home. He didn’t have a house key with him.

I finished my shopping and drove home thru a tropical deluge, up and down the twisty roads, thru the sugar cane fields. Poor Lance locked outside! And what’s the first thing I noticed when I got into the house? My laundry hanging outside on the line - soaking wet. I’m just leaving it there until tomorrow because it’s still raining. I’ll put it in the dryer then.

Carlos and his helper arrived at our house - he forgot his car keys. Off they went to his shop, then back here to get his car.

Managed to prepare two of the items we’re having for lunch tomorrow.

I picked up mini frozen pizzas at the store - so that’s dinner. And I’m having a drink.