Saturday, September 24, 2011

Costa Rica - Part 6, Chocolate and Iguanas

Sorry kids, but lately my blog has been so boring that I don't even want to read it.  So I'll stick to mostly pictures for the wrap up.

Iguanas are being hunted for food... but unfortunately take a good 10 years to make a good meal.  Soooo an indigenous couple are running this farm to raise iguanas to release back into the wild.

So, naturally there were turkeys there.

Baby iguanas.
After they've been released, many of the iguanas continue to hang out in the area, or at least return when it's time to lay their eggs. 

These are the iguanas kept for breeding.
The guide spoke Bri-Bri and Spanish, but no English.  So I'd listen to him and try to get as much from the Spanish as I could, and occasionailly asked a question in Spanish as well.  Intelligent questions like - "Como se dice 'iguana' en espanol?"

"Uh.... iguana."

 After looking at iguanas we ate lunch from a leaf shaped like Peter Pan's hat.  Lots of roasted root veggies (typical indigenous fare) and chicken... yummers!

Then we tromped off into the rain forest again.

Cacao tree!
Mmmmm..... chocolate.
Tasty tasty chocolate.

It was interesting - the white flesh is kinda sweet and fruity.  It's the purple seed that they roast and ferment to make chocolate.  It was a bit bitter, but it did have a faint chocolaty taste.

The guide told us that when the conquistadors showed up a lot of them started dying from mosquito bourne diseases. His people never had a problem, because they'd drink a tea brewed from these leaves. 

 Introducing - quinine!

The rain-forest was super dry, this was supposed to be the tail end of the rainy season, and yet everywhere there were dry crispy leaves and cracked earth.  Not good.  Climate change is happening people!  The chocolate is in danger!!! (actually, it really is - some mold started attacking cacao plants back in the 70s and it's still going strong - at least in Costa Rica)

Another magical rain-forest tree.  They boil down the bark and soak bandages in it - it has antiseptic and healing properties.  It's good for treating machete wounds apparently.

Thus ends the last official activity of the tour group.  Finally a couple days to relax on my own!

 For my first 'on my own' meal, I wandered a few blocks away from the main tourist street, found a place where some locals were eating and sat right down.

This 'casado' (married man's lunch) was the single most glorious meal I had in Costa Rica (and half the price of any of the places on the main street).  The chicken was roasted in some kind of jerk sauce.  The beans were amazing.  The salad had the perfect amount of crisp tanginess, the rice was cooked in chicken broth and was a mellow compliment to the spiciness of the chicken.  The cooked banana was such a perfectly sweet note to finish on.  AMAZING.  I couldn't stop dancing in my seat and attempting to compliment the chef in my ridiculously broken Spanish.  So when she asked "What part did you like so much?" I had no choice but to answer her in English "Everything!"
This is the cabina where I stayed.   A block off the main street, and about three blocks from the beach.  Sweet!
This is the hammock on the porch of my cabina a few blocks from the beach.
And these are my toes in the hammock, on the porch of my cabina, just blocks from the beach.  There was a rainstorm, and I just hung out with a rum & coke and watched the whole thing from my hammock.  Pura Vida!

All told, it was a good vacation.  I definitely would have enjoyed a bit more time on my own.  Next time I go abroad I might consider going with a group - because it is nice to have someone doing all the planning and looking out for everyone's safety - but only if I can have an equal amount of time to explore the country on my own.  Traveling independently is where all the adventure lies. 

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