Summer is over here in Costa Rica – usually December through April – and it’s cooled off. Back in November, we saw for the first time an abundance of inexpensive table fans for sale and we all bought them. Expecting a summer hotter and drier than usual, which proved to be true, we out one in every room. Now the season has ended and those cheap fans are dotting the garbage piles in town to be picked up by the trucks Wed. morning and carried off to the land fill. Our own are still working fine but this climate is tough on equipment: humidity and salt air. It begs two questions, “Is cheaper better?” and “Do we have a choice anymore?”
While on our morning walk today, we encountered a beautiful Tarantula crawling up a rock wall. Suddenly this huge and vicious insect came in and in a bare few moments TOOK HIM OUT. Wrestled him to the floor, killed him and then flew a way. Turns out he’s a Tarantula Hawk Wasp and this is his modus operandi. Sorry the photo is so bad – I guess I was a little shook up. Nobody gets a free ride, not even Tarantulas.
Our cashew fruits are ripe on the tree. About the size and shape of a small apple, this juicy fruit is called Maranon in Costa Rica – the n needs a tilde but I can’t get my keyboard to cooperate. The fruit is juicy with a lot of texture and the skin is a little waxy. Makes a great smoothie but I like to eat them fresh.
Each fruit is host to a single cashew nut hanging from the bottom but beware. An un-informed friend of mine recently tried to eat one raw and broke out into a fiery rash that lasted nearly two weeks. Don’t try this at home. The nut is correctly processed through a number of steps including fire to get rid of the skin, shell, and caustic coatings that my friend encountered. I’m amazed they’re not even more expensive to buy than they are. Gretchen processed them once and later offered them to us. “Would you care for ONE cashew?”
We’re getting ready for a change of seasons. Marielos came today and polished our toenails.
We drank a little wine and chatted while she worked.
Then off to the pool to admire the results.
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.
Jana Siimes entertained us during intermission with her soprano saxophone.
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.
In Costa Rica, Spring precedes Winter. We might be seeing right now the first signs of the coming rainy season. Rising humidity – we’ve 4 cloudy starless nights in a row – and precipitation – Tina says it rained the other day in Santo Domingo, just 4 klicks away but I didn’t feel a drop – have encouraged the trees to bloom.
The Sandal is usually the first and easily recognizable with its clumps of small salmon colored blossoms, possibly my favorite.
The Roble Sabana – Pink Trumpet tree – comes in white and pink with trumpet flowers on a dark striated bark. I always thought these were two different trees until I took a closer look.
But a third one, quite rare, had me baffled – bright fuschia. Maybe you’ve seen it on the way to Nicoya, west side of the road. I can’t find it in any of Steve’s books.
Closer examination solved the mystery, I think.
It’s actually a Verenero – Bougainvillea vine – wrapped around an Indio Desnudo – Naked Indian tree. Huh?!
The other surprise is that all of these trees, that usually come into flower in succession over the Spring weeks, are all blooming at once this year. Even the bright yellow Cortez Amarrillo – Yellow Cortez – and the flaming red Malinche – Poinciana – have open flowers right now. What does that portend for our coming Invierno – Winter?
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.
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.
Buche de Noel
My Steve was born on Christmas Day and since I love all things French, I decide long ago that his birthday cake would be a Buche de Noel – his middle name is even Noel. I don’t think I ever asked him if there was some other kind of cake he preferred or even if he liked chocolate cake. A buche it is.
When we lived up north, I had a several successful attempts. Over the years, I’ve learned to make an acceptable genoise and a pretty good ganache. Whipped cream, butter, and dark chocolate, how can you go wrong? I’ve even carried the cake to other family members’ homes with few problems.
But baking in Costa Rica is a whole different animal. First, there’s no such thing here as “heavy” cream for whipping. There’s only ultra-processed cream-like liquid in a tetra pak. I don’t think it has any butter fat in it. I do my best by getting it really cold. I even chill the metal bowl and the beaters. But it’s 85 degrees in my kitchen on Christmas Day and nothing stays cold for long. With the oven on, I just have to take my pants off, wishing I was 25 again and that someone might appreciate this view. Every year, as I struggle to get the mousse to firm up and the ganache to stay on the rolled cake, I beg to Steve to shoot me if I even threaten to try it again next year.
Mine didn’t even look this good.
Yesterday, we rigged up a support system of ice and wedges in the Styrofoam cooler – pre-chilled, of course – to transport what should be a simple dessert to the dinner venue. I cringed with shame as I set the mess on the table in front of my friends. But after tasting it, they raved and begged me to make it again next year. Really, how can you go wrong with dark chocolate, butter and cream? Maybe I’ll just put it in a bowl next year with a dozen spoons for passing.
Albeit, brief, the rain was welcome relief today. Maybe there’s more to come. The skies still look pretty dark.
I live in one of the prettiest landscapes imaginable, with thick deciduous forests.
Volcanic mountains that reach right down to the sea.