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Los Ticos – Culture

I have a whole new respect for tamales, the traditional treat at Christmas in Costa Rica.  Two friends from my Intercambio de Idioma (language exchange) invited us gringos (and Canadians) to help make their family recipe, Tamales Criollos.

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Florella, Delecta, and Jonathan did lot of the prep. work the day before, including the hand-grinding of yellow corn.  Our job then was to mix it together with pork fat and sour orange juice to make the masa.

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Delecta showed us how.  Her mother taught her this recipe when she was 16 but her own signature addition is a little Achiote paste for color and smoky flavor.

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We formed the masa into 240 balls, bigger than a golf ball, smaller than tennis.  That’s a lot of tamales.

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The ingredients, including pork meat and bacon, carrots, potatoes, rice and sweet pepper, get assembled onto two platano leaves – not banana leaves because they are bitter.

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All of the ingredients go in raw – that’s one of the things that make these tamales  Criollo.

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The packets get folded up and tied into pairs or pinas.

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Jonathan was gracious enough to say that we were quick learners.  He couldn’t believe that most of us had never made tamales before.  We took this as a special complement because Jonathan runs a very good restaurant here, Villa Bosque.

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Then we boiled the pinchos in what can only be called a cauldron, over a wood fire.  sandal works best.  The fire should be very hot with not too much smoke.

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With leaves on the bottom and leaves on the top, plus a lid, the tamales cooked for two hours.

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Taste test proved very successful.  All the flavors had fused together and permeated the masa which was rich and sweet.  Muy rica!

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The family will serve them with coffee to visitors who stop by all day Christmas Eve.  Steve and I will enjoy ours for Christmas breakfast.

clean ocean

All of the broken fans didn’t all end up in the landfill.  Some washed down the river and returned to the beach with the tide.  Trash pick-up in Costa Rica only happens in urban locales.  So, if you don’t have a car, are you going to take it to town on the bus?  Probably not.

natural center samara

Story-teller, Carolina Quiroga, who uis from Columbia via USA, Janashared some latin tales with the children of Samara yesterday at the Natural Center.  Presented in Spanish, it was also good practice for those of us who are still earning the language.

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Jana Siimes entertained us during intermission with her soprano saxophone.

samara arts festival

Carolina was a pleasure to watch as she engaged the children with her animated expressions and brought them into the stories she told.  This event is part of the Festival International Puro Cuento and presented here by Festival Arte Samara. Events like these are precious in Samara.  We thank Festival Arte Samara, who brings something fun to town about once a month.

samara cleanup

It seems like everyone was involved in last Saturday’s cleanup of the village of El Torito and Playa Carrillo. Busloads of volunteers from UNA (Univerisida Nacional de Costa Rica) and Florida (our local bottler) collected trash and garbage from roadsides and yards. The idea is to eliminate places for standing water and breeding potential for mosquitos.

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The volunteers and staff came back on Monday to continue their work in Sámara. Garbage trucks from the Municipalidad hauled it all away. This is what a “national emergency” looks like in Costa Rica: funds for equipment, gasoline, lunch, garbage bags and gloves.

And lots of volunteers.

Thank-you to all who helped.

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From the Voice of Guanacaste, this is the best thing I’ve read about what all those people are doing on the beach at Ostional during a turtle Arrival (Arribada).  It says that, in a big Arribada, many of the eggs are destroyed by other turtles “over-digging”.  When 251,000 turtles try to lay their eggs on the same stretch of beach within a few days, it’s bound to happen.  So harvesting during the first 3 days doesn’t have a big impact on overall survival.  Caring for the nests and cleaning the beach, however, does have an impact, a positive one.

http://www.vozdeguanacaste.com/en/gallery/turtle-eggs-ostionals-subsidy

What the article doesn’t explain is how SINAC assesses the market and who the buyers are.  Even so, if you run the numbers, you can quickly see that a large Arribada like we saw in September produces a $40 share for each of the 230 members.  Seems like a labor of love to me.  More important, perhaps, to turtle survival is to stop polluting the oceans.