Sunday, January 20, 2019

Things that are different here

Things that are different here: 
-when you go to a restaurant, usually you just walk in and seat yourself, the server will come to your table when he/she is ready
-no tipping, cause the tip is included at every restaurant
-all US branded products made here have a different flavor
-most if not all stuff in the grocery store is in bags, pretty much no boxes
-in smaller grocery stores, you need help to get meat. An employee takes your order and puts chicken or beef in a plastic bag with a price sticker for checkout, bakery also.
-no self-serve at gas stations! You have to give your credit card to a guy and he pumps for you
-dogs and cats are not social. They keep their distance and do not seem to crave human attention
-no addresses. no mail service (in areas outside of San Jose at least)
-you can walk and ride your bike in the streets here and people just go around you
-if you want to pass a car in front of you, you just do it, you don't have to wait for them to pull over and let you pass

Fried Sweet Plantains - Platanos Maduros

I (Angela) love fried sweet plantains for breakfast. You can't make them with regular bananas, you have to get plantains. They're the green, larger bananas and they're at all markets here. I looked it up online, and you can fry plantains in oil, but you will get very different results depending on whether you use green or ripened plantains. You can find the ripened (yellow) plantains at markets, but it's hard to find ones that are super ripe and beat up, probably cause everyone else is looking for those as well. I did buy some green ones, but they've been sitting on my counter now for like, 2 weeks and they aren't really getting very yellow. I bought some yellow ones and fried those up. They have to be really beat up to turn into the super sweet, mushy plantains. I finally cut up a green one and cut the pieces smaller and thinner, cause I knew they would come out like potatoes, and they did; kind of crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside. I salted them and they were a lot like french fries, but you have to eat them right then - they don't keep very well. All you do is heat some vegetable oil in a pan and put the plantains in there, about 3 minutes on each side and that's it. The really ripe ones already have plenty of sweetness.

US Food in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Now that we have been in Costa Rica for a few weeks, the rare restaurant that serves US food is so tempting. 

We went to Pizza Ranch for dinner and loved the pizza.  We had breadsticks, chicken wings, and a large pizza and drinks for under $30 USD (including tip) -- delicious!

Swimming in the Rio Fortuna

There is a river near our house, so the kids went for an afternoon swim:

Neighborhood Animals in La Fortuna

Carson asked how he could earn some money, so I told him if he spotted a sloth near our house and showed it to the family, then he could earn a few dollars.  I didn't really expect to see any, but Carson did it.

While studying in our covered outdoor living room for school, Carson jumps up and says: 'I see a sloth!'  It was a really cute blond colored sloth in a tree about 20' from our house.  It stayed in the trees by our house for a few days.

This week, while at home, we also saw:
6 Keel Billed Toucans
A Two Toed Sloth (we saw it on three separate days)
2 Laughing Falcons (we heard more, but didn't see them)
Lots of Tanagers, Vultures, Egrets, and other birds

Carson's Photos:

Lake Arenal

Lake Arenal looked so beautiful at a distance while we hiked near Arenal Volcano, so we wanted to see it up close.  Yesterday we drove to it, hoping for some amazing views.  Instead, we found really windy roads, surrounded by trees that blocked all possible views of the lake.  Well, there were a few places that had nice views, but they were on bends in the road with no shoulder, so you took your life into your hands if you stopped and got out of the car.  

Eventually, we found a small community that had cleared enough trees that you could see the lake.  We stopped at a small German Bakery, got some treats that looked much better than they tasted, then headed home.

Kids Shopping Alone

Tucker and Savannah walked to a nearby store to buy some treats.  They brought their Colones (Costa Rican currency) and a cheat sheet with common shopping phrases in Spanish just in case.  Pretty brave of them to handle the transaction in Spanish without their parents.

Tucker bought:
Pinguinos (like Hostess cupcakes - 540 Colones or $0.90)
ChocoMax (frozen ice cream cone, 300 Colones or $0.50)
Oreos (540 Colones or $0.90):

Monday, January 14, 2019

Rock Stacking at the Rio Machuca

We perfected our rock balancing and rock stacking skills at the Rio Machuca.

Arenal Volcano National Park

As we finished breakfast, six toucans flew up to our house.  An amazing way to start the day.  Despite the overcast, slightly rainy day, we decided to head to Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal (Arenal Volcano National Park).  Clouds are almost always covering the peak of the volcano, for a few minutes, we were able to see the entire volcano.

On the drive there, we saw two sloths in a tree and noticed that one of the sloths was actually holding a baby sloth.  It was an incredible sight.  If you look closely, you can see the mother and baby sloth together in this picture that Carson took:

In the National Park, we saw amazing birds and animals.  Below is a Laughing Falcon.  They primary eat venomous snakes, especially the Coral Snake.

It took us a while to figure out what these birds were, they had browning red backs with a yellow tail, and an orangish/red beak.  They are called Montezuma Oropendola:

A neat tree:

We also saw quite a few Coatis in the park:

This tree looked like a dinosaur:

A large hornets nest.  We also saw a really huge hornet (maybe about 2" long):

We saw several Great Curassows.  They kind of looked and walked like turkeys:

Tucker is walking on some of the lava flow from the 1992 eruption.

We are all standing on cooled lava from previous eruptions.  In the distance, you can see Lake Arenal.

Strange tree roots:

This is El Ceibo, a 400 year old tree near the base of the volcano.  It was huge.

A large group of Coati, blocking traffic on the way back from the Volcano.  Pretty neat, cute, animals.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Church in Quesada

We drove to church this morning in a town called Quesada, which was about a 50-minute drive from our house in Los Angeles (near La Fortuna). The hermanos y hermanas (brothers and sisters) there were very welcoming, there being a group of about 5 men there at the door to shake our hands and greet us as we walked in the door. I am wearing a stohl I received as a gift from Neha, a friend of ours who lives in Maryland. 


There are bakery sections in grocery stores here just like in the states, but they aren't self-serve. You get a tray and tongs, select your purchases and bring them to the bakery counter where an employee will bag them and tag them for you. Then, you are ready to checkout. This goes for some of the panaderia stores we have been to as well. On my tray I have a huge frosted cornflake (that's what it tasted like), a custard burger (some pastry creme in a bun with sugar on top), a couple different turnover type things. 

Animals We've Seen

Here are some of the animals that we've seen so far:

A Three toed Sloth
A Keel Billed Toucan
Some White headed capuchan Monkeys
These were all taken by me, Carson

Golden Hooded Tanager

 Cherrie's Tanager

 Great Kiskadee




 Another Cat