First of all, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many hummingbirds in my life. These little flittery birds are everywhere – well, there are flowers everywhere and there is a hummingbird feeder by the front door. It is so neat to see them. The number of hummingbirds is second to the number of butterflies! Last night when we were visiting Norman and Annie, she and I saw a blue Morpho butterfly go by. She was very excited because blue Morpho’s are not commonly seem in this area. She said it was a sign that Jeff and I belong here. There are roughly a bazillon butterflies here at our casita.
We woke up this morning to birdsong – what a racket!! There are singing, chirping, squaking, and cooing birds in all the trees around us. We left the bedroom window open all night, what a great way to wake up.
We have an agenda for this trip to Costa Rica: check out Atenas as a possible town in which to relocate, and spend time in “our” town of San Ramon and experience a “soda”. We’ve gotta get up because today is an exploring day, and more importantly, a farmer’s market day!
After a quick breakfast of drip Costa Rican coffee and 1/2 of a Clif bar each, we hop in the car and head for Atenas.
Atenas is about 45 minutes (15 miles) from here. I know what you’re thinking…15 miles in 45 minutes? Seriously? Yup…the road, which is in good condition (i.e. paved) is VERY steep and windy. Amazingly we get to Atenas without getting lost!! Atenas, like nearby Grecia, is named after a Greek town. Atenas, of course, means “Athens” the capital of Greece. It is a nice little town and is said to have “the best climate in the world” as the temperature ranges between day and night are small and vary only by a few degrees all year round. The evening temps averages 19 Celsius (about 66 degrees F) to the average daytime high of about 26 degrees C or 78.8 F. This area is popular with ex-pats because of the nice climate, and other things, of course.
We find street parking a couple of blocks from the main square where we expect to find the market. No, it has been moved a bit out of town, but there is a free(!) bus that takes shoppers back and forth. The bus runs every hour and one just left. Talking with a young woman we learn that it isn’t far, maybe a mile and we talk about walking. An older lady joins the conversation (people here are so nice). Her English is better than the young woman’s and definitely better than my Spanish. She advises us not to walk as there is nothing between here and there, just the road, and we might get mugged. Always listen to the locals! We decide to drive to the market and are happy that we did…the road was good, but there really was nothing along the way – no sidewalk and there was one good steep hill. Parking at the farmer’s market was easy, well-organized and free. The market itself was in a huge empty metal building…well, actually a metal roof as there were no sides. It did have a concrete floor which made it easy to push the REAL grocery carts that were available.
Nirvana! We spent at least 90 minutes selecting our fruits and vegies. We splurged on two ready-made tamales and two little containers of rice pudding. I know this is weird, but here is a list and photo of what we purchased for about $18.
3 cucumbers, 3 gorgeous tomatoes, 4 ears of corn, 4 white potatos, 1 cantalope, 1 pineapple, 2 small watermelons, 1/2 kilo of green beans, 1 liter of delicious, creamy yogurt, 3 lbs of carrots, 2 heads of green leaf lettuce, 1 large head of broccoli,, 1 bunch of kale, 1 loaf of delicious homemade herb bread, 6-8 pound of juicing oranges, the tamales and rice pudding and a bunch of flowers.
If you take out the cost of the flowers, we spent about $16 for our food for the week!
There are farmer’s markets every week all year round. Nice, healthy fresh vegies…though I did just recently learn that Costa Rica ranks #1 in the world for pesticide use – including some that are banned in the US. Bummer.
We begin to unload our shopping cart into the cloth grocery sacks we always pack. There is NO WAY all of that is going to fit in these bags. Thank goodness we drove!! How would we even carry all this stuff on the bus?? We get it all packed away in the back of our borrowed 4-Runner and go back into Atenas proper.
We explore Atenas for most of the afternoon…nice clean town, friendly people, well-stocked stores. Unfortunately we don’t know anyone here and won’t have a chance to check out the residential areas.
Back to the car…we are ravenous. It has been a long time since that 1/2 Clif bar and coffee. Jeff rips off a hunk of herb bread and opens the yougurt while I unwrap and snarf down one of the tamales with a rice pudding chaser. Yum!
Time to head home. To get to Atenas you need to go through the town of Palmeras, and you guessed it! We got lost going through Palmeras. We thought “maybe we could just follow that bus.” Dumb idea! Time for Google maps…just as I got our geographical, electronic location on my phone, Jeff recognized a turn and we were back on track.
Safely home we unpack and relax.
Now, back to the promised answer to the burning question: “why are there lentils in Jeff’s suitcase?”
First of all, it was my suitcase and more importantly it had more than lentils in it . Before leaving Colorado, I put together two different, homemade dehydrated soup mixes and put the ingredients into baggies. This is something I’ve adopted doing whenever I know we’ll be arriving late somewhere or if we need food before going grocery shopping. That’s what I did last night, I made red lentil soup for dinner because we knew we would not buy any food until today. So, I’m happy the little customs guy asked if I had beans and not lentils! Actually, what I think he saw were my bags of roasted peanuts.
Tonight we finish last night’s red lentil soup and enjoy a fresh salad and yummy bread.
Tonight is also experimentation night. We brought our Chromecast device with us to see if it works in Costa Rica. Success! We can “cast” Netflix and Hoopla from our iPad to the TV. We don’t watch much television at all but do enjoy Netflix especially. Good to know for future reference. In our testing mode, I start up the disaster movie “2012” (you do know that I have a penchant for disaster movies, right?). Next thing we know we’ve sat through the entire movie and it is after midnight. We go to bed!!