Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Banana Feast Anyone?

Banana bunch freshly cut off of tree.

Abundance of ripe bananas!

The double banana.
Well about two and a half weeks ago, I was feeling adventurous and craving bananas ….so I decided it was time to ripen one of the three huge banana bunches hanging from the banana trees in our backyard.  I read online that you can cut a bunch of bananas from the tree, put it in a bag, and leave it to ripen for a week or so.  With cleaver and chair in hand, Carolyn and I ventured out into the backyard.  After blood curdling screams when a huge grasshopper sprung out from the bundle of bananas and after a few failed attempts to cut all the way through the thick 4-inch branch, the bananas finally fell to the grass with a thud. Next came the challenge of lifting the dirt covered 30 pound bundle and placing it in a large black garbage bag. When all was said and done, we closed up the bag and left it outside under an overhang.  When I checked on it a week later, a raunchy rotten smell engulfed me, and I had to cut two black, moldy, half-eaten bananas of the bundle…yuck! I lost hope that my experiment would yield good results. I should have had more faith though, because a few days later we were eating ten ripe bananas from our bundle. After forgetting to check on the bananas for another 4 days…SURPRISE! The entire bundle was ripe; we counted over 100 bananas total! All ripe at the same time! It was officially a banana overload for the week…banana bread, chocolate covered bananas, bananas with yogurt, bananas for snack, bananas for breakfast, and fried bananas with dinner.  We still have way too many bananas in our freezer even after giving large quantities to the people we work with. J  Well, it won’t be necessary to cut down and ripen another bunch of bananas for a while!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Rain, Rain, Rain

The term ‘rainy season’ has taken on new meaning for me.  The rainy season in Costa Rica is said to last from May to November.  Well, when I arrived here early September and the sun was shining every morning with temperatures reaching into the 80’s and the rains only coming in the afternoon, I thought ‘The rainy season in Costa Rica really isn’t bad at all!  It’s 100 times more comfortable and cheery than the rainy season in Seattle.’  The month of October has proved that September was exceptionally dry this year and that I hadn’t really experienced Costa Rican rainy days yet.  October has brought with it clouds, rain, and cooler temperatures all day every day.  I hear this is more typical weather for the season.  Also, October has brought many illnesses passing around at Casa Maria, mainly colds and flues.  For me specifically, the change in weather has kept me sick…possibly a combination of cold and allergies.  I’ve started taking an allergy medication recently, so fingers crossed that it will do the trick!
A Quick School Update
Work has been going well.  It is definitely challenging for me, but I learn something new each day.  Lately, I have been subbing for Sor Nela in her religion classes.  This mainly entails explaining to the girls what they should be doing or a new assignment and then supervising the class.  When I’m not in classes or running office errands, I get to be the master decorator.  I trace and cut out large letters to create sentences and draw then cut out various scenes to paste to the walls of the school as decoration.  I get to use my artistic side a little!  In the afternoons, I still monitor the internas and talk with them.  Last Wednesday afternoon was particularly exciting.  The washroom was turned into a beauty salon!  Three hairdressers came to Casa Maria and cut, dried, and styled the girls hair for free.  The girls absolutely loved it.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A New Discovery -- La Feria!

What’s my new favorite place to visit on Saturday mornings?  La feria (farmer’s market) in Guadalupe.  I have never in my life seen such a wonderful, vibrant, and deliciously appetizing array of fresh, local produce all located conveniently within an area about the same size as a football field.  Farmers from all around the Central Valley come to Guadalupe around 6 AM on Saturday morning to sell their fruit and vegetables to us city people until around 1 PM.  Canopies and boxes of produce create aisles upon aisles of vendors and food to choose from.  There’s even a cold section with meats, cheeses, and eggs.  I’ve now been introduced to all sorts of new produce including maracuya, cas, cherimoya, yucca, and chayote.  Not only is the quality of the fruit and veggies at the market superior to local grocery stores, but it is also generally much less expensive.  I end up walking away from the market with as much as I can possibly carry and wishing my arms were a bit stronger.  Visiting la feria is going to be my new Saturday morning tradition!
While we’re on the food topic, I guess I’ll mention that I have also been introduced to a few new entrees at Casa Maria in addition to the usually rice, beans, and spaghetti.   One day I was privileged to receive chicken intestine served over rice.  Not easy to stomach I dare say.  Another day I sat down to be startled by a battered pig foot that was happily nested atop my pile of rice.  The correct way of eating the specialty pig foot, I was told later that evening when I recounted the lunch to someone, is to suck on it and slurp the juices out each bone from its end.  I guess my palette is not refined enough to appreciate this treat.  However, my palette is just perfect to appreciate the lovely huevos rancheros, gallo pinto (beans and rice mixed together), and handmade tortillas that I got to eat this weekend when Marta, the physical education teacher at St. Francis College, invited us over to her house for brunch.  She is from Guatemala and is married to an American.  The couple lives comfortably in a gorgeous sunlight home with pictures of their two twenty-something year old children who are both currently attending universities in the United States.  Marta and her husband, Paul, were even generous enough to invite us over to their home for the American Thanksgiving celebration that they host every year!  I guess I won’t miss out on Thanksgiving after all this year (though it won’t be comparable to Thanksgiving at home of course).