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Friday, November 4, 2011

An Amazing Sunday

Our gardener, Luis, invited us to his house for lunch on Sunday. Luis also does work for our Canadian friends, Diane and John, so that is our connection. Our Spanish is so bad right now that Luis phones John who phones us with messages from Luis. John's Spanish is very good.

We felt very privileged to be invited.

Diane and John picked us up and off we went in the direction of Palmares - after that, I was totally lost. We climbed up, up and up through the most amazing scenery. The day was perfect so we could see for miles.

Ticos' houses are quite often modest compared to North American standards. Small, but perfectly able to house a family. I think we North Americans are too spoiled and greedy and want this, that and the other thing, the bigger the better .... and then we get deep into debt trying to pay for all that stuff, a lot of which never gets used. For instance, Luis is making a covered patio outside the front of the house but the work gets done when they have a bit of money, not before. So it takes much longer to get what they want but no money is owed at the end.

We were fortunate to be served a typical Tico meal: olla de carne and it was so good! Beef, cilantro, onions, celery, red bell peppers, carrots, corn, chayote, yuca, ayote, sweet potatoes, plantains, and potatoes.  The bowl of broth with beef is put in front of you, a big plate of rice is on the side, along with a big plate of the cooked vegetables. You put whatever you want into the bowl of broth and enjoy, enjoy! Costa Rica coffee served alongside. This is a very hearty meal.

I'd like to try making olla de carne - Diane did and she said it came out more like a stew so there are obviously some tricks to getting it right.

Diana, Lance, John, Diane enjoying olla de carne
Our host, Luis, and Lance

Luis prepared the meal for us as his wife was at church, so we met her a bit later. Here are his wife and children:

The young lady on the left along with the little boy are neighborhood friends. We met their son but he was not around to be in this photo. So, second from the left is their youngest daughter, then Mrs. Luis, and then their oldest daughter.

After lunch, we took a walk to Eco Torunes Lodge, which is a resort with two swimming pools, cabinas, restaurant, and mirador (lookout).  It is located atop a coffee finca. This is a coffee cooperative of 11 farm families and they sell export quality coffee, either whole bean or ground. You can go for a tour of the shade-grown coffee and see how coffee is grown. We didn't have time for the tour but we were shown one of the cabinas that are available for rent and it was really nice - bedroom (king bed), bath, living room area, kitchen and a view that was hard to beat.

The two pools are down the side of the mountain and you can walk down to the pools or just jump into the (very long) slides. The views all around were amazing - we could see Atenas. This resort is where mostly Ticos stay but, because we know Luis, we could stay there at Tico rates.

Back to Luis' house - and it was all uphill but not so bad and myself and Lance led the pack. Ticos are very affectionate people - here are two photos to prove that:


The first one is of Luis and his youngest daughter, and the second one shows John on the left, Lance and Luis with his arm on Lance's shoulder, and the youngest daughter again. It is quite common to see teenagers holding their parents' hands as they walk around town, mothers and daughters arm in arm. Men greet men with hugs and handshakes.

When we met Luis' youngest daughter (I am sorry but I did not catch all of the their names this time) she went to each one of us in turn and gave us a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

John and Diane brought several cans of wall paint for their casa and also the meat for our olla. They have visited Luis a lot in the past and always bring something useful, such as tile for their bathroom, etc. We came bearing two bouquets of flowers for Luis' wife and dessert, not knowing what else to bring - being newbies.

I think Mrs. Luis liked the flowers because she gave me this when we left:

Mrs. Luis likes to paint! like me! This is a glass bottle that she painted the design on.
 This is my new treasure. I might bring her some acrylic paints next visit. Not only that, we left with this:

Half of a big squash, the other half was given to Diane and John. And we were also given instructions on how to cook it. Plus, the seeds are to be planted into the ground to give us more squash.

This blog entry was a bit hard for me to write, because at one point Luis' wife said, in Spanish, to Diane and John, "You are our friends and family, and now Lance and Diana are our friends and family", and she held her hand over her heart  - I am parphrasing here but I think that is what Diane's translation was. It was obvious I was moved by this declaration, because Mrs. Luis came over to me and gave me a big hug.

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