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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Jorge's Wedding

Recently, we were invited to the wedding of Jorge and Fabiola, held on Saturday, November 23, 2013, at Iglesia Los Angeles, 5:00 pm. Jorge is one of our regular taxi drivers and also our friend.

What to wear? I had brought a navy, silk, sleeveless dress with me when we moved here from British Columbia and had sandals to match. The dress needed a wash and an airing out after having been hanging unused for two years but it was perfect for this occasion.

Lance, too, already had the perfect clothes in his closet - lightweight and light colored trousers and an ivory colored shirt worn untucked, very much like embroidered dress shirts that men wear here for special occasions.

Jorge asked that guests not give presents, but money which was fine with us - made things much easier. An envelope was included with the invitation for this purpose. He has already built his house and will use the money to buy exactly what he and Fabiola want/need.

Jorge and his parents arrived first, as well as three pretty little “bridesmaids” (not sure what they would be called here) and lots of guests. Jorge walked around the church greeting guests, shaking hands, while awaiting his bride. When it was time for him to walk up to the altar, his parents walked on each side of him with firm grips on his elbows. They were followed by the little bridesmaids. There was no best man.

Then Fabiola was walked up the aisle with her parents on either side of her. She looked lovely, in a long, white dress with veil pinned at the back of her hair and trailing behind. At the altar was a bench for Fabiola and Jorge to sit on, decorated with her colours - mauve and white netting. The wedding invitation had a mauve ribbon on it and the lettering was mauve. Our friend and neighbor, Rose Mary, offered me a selection of English wedding cards to choose from and by coincidence one had a bridesmaid wearing a mauve dress so we chose that. She thought they might like to have a wedding card in English and it was a good idea.

There was a singer with a lovely voice. Of course, the service was all in Spanish but we caught a few words here and there. Costa Rica is a Catholic country so obviously this was a Catholic service. We just watched what everyone else was doing and stood and sat down when they did. A Tico acquaintance sitting in front of us helped us out also.

Then they were officially married and so began the “night of the photographs”. Jorge and Fabiola stood patiently while everyone in the church had their picture taken with them. Once that was done, everyone went to “en casa de Familia Castro (Guizaro)” which turned out to be a large, open sided facility obviously built to be used for parties, receptions, etc. We were given a lift by one of Jorge’s family members.

It was beautifully decorated for the reception. There were nine tables and the head table and we reckon there were about 100 people there. There was a DJ, a bubble machine and a smoke machine. We were assigned to table 9, which seemed to consist of a lot of Jorge’s relatives. A fellow sitting across from us spoke some English and he introduced us around. When Fabiola and Jorge arrived, a toast was given, she had a dance with her father (Mario), and Jorge danced with his mother-in-law. Then off the two of them went to spend most of the night having their pictures taken. A wooden swing had been decorated with lights, they sat in it, and the photographer had all his equipment set up.

Appetizers were served to each table. I had a juicy piece of pork on a small corn tortilla and a yuca fry. There was wine for the toast but, after that, most people drank soft drinks or beer. Each table was called in turn to go out to where the happy couple were and, yes, have their picture taken with them! Jorge and Fabiola must have had achingly sore smile muscles the next day.

In the meantime, the guests were enjoying dinner which started with a creamy, squash soup. On the dinner plates were rice, pork, chicken, vegetables and something that tasted a lot like grits. It was good and I would like to know what it was. No dessert was served and there was no wedding cake. We were so full from the meal that anything else was unnecessary.

As people finished eating, they got up to dance, including little kids. Lots of lively, Latin music.

Jorge and Fabiola finally finished with their photos and sat down to have something to eat, this must have been about 9:30 pm. Jorge was still circulating around talking to people and shaking their hands. In Canada, wedding receptions are all about the bride and groom with lots of speeches and toasts. Here, it seemed the reception was to acknowledge the guests and the bride and groom played a secondary, and hard working, role.

We had a wonderful time and felt so special being invited into the Tico community and seeing a part of this country that I think a lot of foreigners are not able to experience. We believe this is because we do not have a car and therefore have always used taxis and the bus system, becoming immersed in the culture.

Here is a video I made of the wedding and reception.



Saturday, November 23, 2013


I made empanadas today for the first time. I know I can buy them made by people who know what they are doing, but I wanted to try making them myself to get a feel for the food of the country we live in.

So I bought a bag of Masa Rica corn flour (harina de maiz) and used the recipe Corn Flour Empanadas from the great little cookbook, Gallito Pinto, Traditional Recipes from Costa Rica, author Andrea Corrales. If you see this cookbook, buy it. She explains the history behind the dishes.

I made a picadillo with carrots, onions, garlic, red bell pepper, fresh cilantro, and Complete Seasoning. This, along with refried black beans, made up the filling. There was enough picadillo left over to have on the side at lunch.

Making up corn flour dough is completely different from using white flour. I needed to add a lot more water to the corn flour then the recipe calls for, in order to make a workable dough. Some time ago, I had bought a wooden press so it was easy to put small fist size pieces of dough into the press to make pancake type empanadas. In went the filling, not too much. Some of the empanadas broke up a bit when I was trying to shape them. We like spicy food, so I added some hot peppers to the mix.

We ate them for snacks around 10:00 am and had the rest of them for lunch .... so I think they were a success and I learned something about the country we currently live in.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Atenas Art and Craft Show

The first annual Atenas art and craft show was held on November 16, 2013, at El Rincón de Nana. it appeared to be a big success, with many vendors selling quilts, jewlery, cards, handcrafted lamps and tables, and much more.

I was there with a few cattle and horse paintings, plus Christmas cards that I had printed with my own designs. The cards sold well and I received positive feedback on my art. A craft show is not really the right venue for what I do. My market is cattle and horse people.

The lunch selections provided by "Nana" were so good. We had the ham and cheese buns with cold iced tea.

Kudos to the organizers ... great job.



Some of the displays


Some of my work


More of my art


My Christmas cards (thanks to Sean Prynne for permission to use his photograph as the foal model)


Friday, November 15, 2013


We finally went out and bought ourselves a machete complete with leather scabbard.

The scabbard is quite nice, with a tooled oxcart and "Costa Rica" on it. We bought it at Vargas in Atenas, our hardware store.

A neighbor's banana tree fell down into our yard, which prompted us to buy a machete so our gardener could chop it up. In the end, their gardener did the job so our machete still hasn't been used. It needs to be sharpened first anyway. They are sold unsharpened.

Fallen banana tree on the right.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Goblins At Our Gate

Halloween is not a Costa Rican custom. Instead, mascarada parades are held. You can read all about them here.

November 2nd is the Day of the Dead, or Dia De Los Muertos. Costa Ricans remember their deceased loved ones by visiting cemeteries and decorating the grave sites with flowers and candles. I drove past the Atenas cemetary yesterday and it was crowded with families and flower sellers.

This year on October 31st, friends got together to create a Halloween for two young ladies, one of whom just recently moved to Costa Rica. Since Costa Rican kids do not go trick or treating, the parents of both girls arranged for friends to hand out candy so one of the traditions from home could be carried on here.

The girls came to our gate dressed in their costumes and received their candy loot.

Then up the road they went to the next house, more candy, more photos. The final stop was a good one, because it included cupcakes. Next year, I think I will get dressed up and go along with them so I can get some goodies too.

The Goblins
The Cupcakes