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Published: November 9th 2008
Ah Turrialba, the land of farms, friends, and oddly enough, the Rawlings factory that produced the weapon Barry Bonds used to hit his record breaking home run.
The weekend following our trip to Nicaragua, Steve and I made our way to nearby Turrialba to visit my good friend Guillermo (Memo) who I had met while harvesting the Earth’s bounty at the Bean. It is partly due to his stories of Costa Rica and the friendship we built that I find myself in this truly “Rich” country.
Early on Saturday morning, we hopped on the bus in Cartago to start our hour-long ride to Turrialba where we were met by Memo, his girlfriend Adriana, and their beautiful baby boy Andres. The town of Turrialba sits in a valley surrounded by beautiful mountains and rolling hills with endless farms in the shadow Volcan Turrialba. Here, you can easily find incredible vistas, great people, and something not common in Tres Rios… fresh air.
When we got to their house, we settled in to our room and had lunch that Adriana had prepared. It was delicious. Not long after lunch we dropped Adriana of at work and Memo, Steve, Andres, and I
all went to the farm belonging to Memo’s parents. Once we got to the farm we sat down to some fresh coffee, warm bread, and homemade cheese. The Turrialba region is known for its cheese. After our coffee we headed out to see the farm. Memo's dad had been working with the cows so we went out to help. By the time we got there he had finished his milking but was just beginning to make some cheese. I couldn't believe how simple the process was. I was hooked right away. Cheese making just might end up being one of my many hobbies. After the work was done we went back in to relax and watch some futbol (soccer). This was also an excellent opportunity for me to practice my Spanish. It is always a struggle but that is what makes it so rewarding and so much fun. I had a good hour-long discussion with Memo's father about farming, politics, and doing what you love. It was the best conversation I have had since I arrived here.
We woke up early on Sunday morning in hopes of spotting the peak of Volcan Turrialba, just out the front door, before
The view out the front door.
the clouds moved in. We were lucky enough to get a pretty good view. We then packed up the car and started to make our way to Adriana's grandparents' farm. On our way we made a stop at CATIE, an organization promoting sustainable agriculture in Costa Rica, but only spent a few minutes driving through. The trip to the farm took about an hour due to the poor quality of the rural roads but we made it. The farm was beautiful and sat in the foothills overlooking the town of Turrialba. Once we arrived we were greeted with fresh cheese tortillas and fresco. After our snack we went to explore the farm. Adriana's family farms mostly sugar cane and pejibayes. Pejibayes are a relative of the coconut and can be found on many street corners throughout Costa Rica. They are boiled in salted water, peeled, and then cut in half to remove the seed. The taste and texture is difficult to describe but they are very fibrous and taste like a cross between a chestnut and pumpkin or squash. They are delicious with a little bit of mayonaise. I definitely recommend trying them if you ever make your way to
Someone out there might recognize that handmade hat.
Costa Rica. The hike around the farm was gorgeous and ended with a little bit of a horseback ride as we made our way back to the house. When we got back we sat down to a typical Costa Rican meal called "olla de carne" which is a soup with meat, potatoes, green plantains, chayote, yuca, and rice. I love it. Its like a Sunday roast thrown into a pot and made into a soup. After our meal we went out and harvested a few sugar canes to have for dessert. We then said our goodbyes and trekked along the bumpy road back to town where Steve and I picked up our backpacks and caught the bus back to Tres Rios.
This has been one of my favorite trips so far and a place that I will go to again hopefully many times in my life. It is nice to get out of the busy streets of the city and slow down for a little while. For obvious reasons, to me anyway, I think that life is best spent breathing fresh country air, taking in beautiful views, and enjoying conversations over coffee with truly good friends. My advice is
to take those opportunities whenever and wherever you find them.
I hope this message finds you all doing well. I look forward to seeing you soon.
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