Published: July 5th 2006July 4th 2006
I’ve recently learned that Heredia is not just city living. Gerardo had mentioned that he wanted to take us to his cousin's farm up in the mountains of Heredia. His cousin, Rigo had a wood burning stove and Gerardo wanted to take him some scraps of wood he had left over from his shop.
Tejoncito is the perfect vehicle for this type of road trip. We had 7 people, yes 7 - in the truck along with multiple bags of wood on the roof. Kudos to Toyota for making such a fine vehicle.
While waiting for Tejoncito to be loaded up, I noticed multiple leaf cutting ants alongside the road by the Delgados house. These things are amazing. Marching in line with their little bundles while other ants sped past them in the other direction ready to carry more. Leaf cutting ants do not actually eat leaves. They instead grow a type of fungus in their nests which they eat. Each nest can have multiple fungus gardens. The leaves are to feed the fungus, allowing it to grow for future meals. They even go so far as to ensure the leaves being fed to the fungus are properly cleaned
to rid them of any other type of damaging fungus, chemicals, or any other harmful attributes. Pretty wild. And we think WE'RE advanced.
Rigo's place is about 25 minutes from where the Delgados live. People have heard us say that the roads here in Costa Rica are very bad however nothing really beats a good picture. The roads in Heredia are actually very good with the exception of a few large potholes that one must swerve around if you want to keep your axles intact. Rigo's road however was pretty bad with a steep 6 foot drop off on BOTH sides where the road had collapsed due to water erosion. My heart was definitely pumping while sitting in the backseat of Tejoncito, watching out the window as the edge of the road came closer when Matthew tried to turn the truck around!
I found Rigo and his family to be very gracious hosts. They have some really nice land and I have to say, this was a very nice change of pace from the city. THIS is the Costa Rica I fell in love with.
Rigo's farm is quite a sight to see. He has cows, horses,
chickens, turkey, pigs, even squirrels. Lots of fruit trees, vegetables and coffee plants as far as the eye could see. He seemed excited to show us around his farm, explaining all about the different crops and animals. Rigo told us that they do eat some of the young male cows since they only need females to produce milk. They do keep a few lucky bulls who live our their lives as studs. The zookeeper in me was a bit sad to know that many of the animals here get eaten although I do know that this is a necessity. If I really think about it, I'd be much happier eating meat that I know came from a healthy animal than eating meat from a store that could have come from anywhere.
Rigo's business is a varied one. He sells milk straight from the cow to his neighbors, making deliveries every day. He delivers it in 2 liter soda bottles and customers generally boil the milk before they use it as it is not pasteurized. Rigo's family also skims the milk and bags what is known here as Natillas - a buttery sweet spread that is popular with breakfast.
Rigo also grows strawberries that he sells to various supermarkets. His operation is 100% organic although he said that many fruits in Costa Rica are not. The only real way to know if you're getting organic or not is to ask, however he wasn't exactly confident that farmers would be honest with us. One more reason to grow our own once we're set up here.
Speaking of organic fruit, at one point I mentioned to him that I love nísperos, to which he climbed the nearest nísperos tree and brought me down some ripe, perfect little beauties. Talk about being in good shape. This guy must be in his early 60’s yet climbed this tree like he was 10.
As we ventured back to his house, he asked us if we’d like to see a waterfall. He explained that it was a little far from his house but that it would be a good hike. He sent his nephew, Jesus to get one of the horses and be our guide. Jesus knew the trails like the back of his hand, showing us shortcuts all the way down to the waterfall. As we got deeper into the
woods, the air changed to that rainforest smell as the area got colder and more damp. What a beautiful site. As we got deeper into the woods, the plants got more exotic and everything became a dense green.
The waterfall was beautiful. The pictures don’t do it justice. We spent quite a bit of time here, just relaxing in the spray from the falls. After the long, hot hike, this was a much needed break. Time to cool off!
By the time we got back to Rigo’s house, it was almost 5pm. It gets dark here between 5 and 6pm every night. There is no daylight savings time here so you can always count on it getting dark at the same time every night. Rigo’s wife, Ana, had dinner ready for us - traditional dish which is very much like chicken broth with potatoes, meat, carrots, etc. All very good although I couldn’t help but wonder if the meat was from one of those adorable little cows I saw out in the yard!
We started back for Barva at about 6pm. Driving at night here is not the safest thing in the world as you often
can’t see the holes in the road and if you aren’t very familiar with the turns, could be dangerous. We made it home with no issues other than I was completely exhausted - both from the hike and the drive. I have to say, I slept like a baby dreaming of perhaps having our own horses once we’re here. Considering the prices Rigo quoted us to buy our own, that dream may become a reality sooner than expected.
There are more photos below