If you have been reading my blog for a while, you have heard a lot about the Central Pacific Coast region of Costa Rica, especially the community of Jaco. We still live in Jaco, and we love it, as always. There is always something to do, and at the same time, there is always peace and tranquility, too. The beach is a constant source of beauty and enjoyment.
In the last year, we have expanded our Costa Rican experience to include the area around Volcan Turrialba and the city of Turrialba. This area is located east of San Jose, the capital, in the province of Cartago. It is characterized by verdant mountains and hillsides, with farmland and forest competing for the most beautiful shades of green.
We spend part of our time there in a cabin that overlooks fields, mountains, volcanoes, ravines, and forests. I have to admit it’s pretty stunning. We sit at the foot of Volcan Turrialba. Locals tell us when it has erupted, it has always blown toward the north and west. We trust the locals. They know the area, and so far, they have always been right.
The climate in this region is cooler than the coast. Temperatures are usually in the 70’s, sometimes reaching into the 80’s. In the evenings, the temperatures will dip into the 60’s or even the upper 50’s. Many nights, the fog rolls in and out at regular intervals. We’ll look out the windows and realize that it has crept up on us, and we are surrounded. In a few moments, we will notice that it is clear, and we can see the lights of the homes on the hillsides and mountainsides, as well as lights of the city far below. I love looking out at the lights on the hillsides. It is fun to see the many places that people live.
We have found the Costa Ricans in this area to be the salt of the earth – honest, hard-working, willing to help their neighbors, full of faith, and very welcoming. Many of the women are amazing cooks, and we enjoy eating at the local “sodas.” A soda is a small, typical restaurant with a few tables and chairs, and a local cook. It only serves local, typical food, so don’t expect to order a hamburger or a hotdog. One of our favorites is the La Cabana Restaurant on the two-lane highway where you turn off to go up our gravel road. We always order the same thing: Casado Vegetariano.
Casado is a typical dish in Costa Rica. It usually consists of rice, beans, salad, maduro (baked plantain), some type of chicken or beef, a cooked vegetable. Sometimes a slice of cheese, a fried egg, a slice of avocado, or some tortillas find their way onto the plate, too. Whatever the cook has on hand goes into the casado.
Tradition says that casados developed when wives fixed meat and vegetables wrapped in banana leaves and sent it with their husbands for lunch as they worked in the fields. Later, casados were the noon meal when workers came home for the two-hour lunch/rest time. Today, casados are the most popular of typical Costa Rican meals, and are eaten any time (after breakfast). It usually comes with some kind of “refresco” – a natural fruit juice drink.
Being vegans, we modify the traditional casado somewhat, and local restaurants and sodas are always happy to accommodate us. Last night at La Cabana, the Casado Vegetariano was a scrumptious plate of rice, refried beans, sauteed carrot/squash/chayote, lettuce and cabbage salad, a small piece of toasted French bread, and a pile of French fries. It all melted in our mouths. Every few minutes, we would look at each other and say something like, “Can you believe how delicious this is?” We will generally choose a soda meal over a fancy restaurant when given the choice. We have our favorite in Jaco (at the beach), too, but that’s a story for another time.
For today, I’ll just let the thoughts of a casado meal lure you into a fantasy of visiting Costa Rica. If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach – the way to discover a ountry’s heart is through its cuisine – and Costa Rica has a wonderful heart.
This is Paul, a Part-Time Expat.
See you soon.
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For more from A Part-Time Expat, visit the sites below.
Jaco Hoy/Jaco Today. There you will find photos of Jaco, Costa Rica, and the surrounding area that I have taken. I invite you to “like” and follow the page to see the sights of Jaco and the Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica.
Turrialba Hoy/Turrialba Today. There you will find photos of the area around the city of Turrialba, Costa Rica, as well as Volcan Turrialba. I inviteyou to “like” and follow the page to see sights of this beautiful region.
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https://tinyurl.com/tfz5nz2 Youtube channel for Aparttime Expat
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqlXDrZvDmRtJq4SbNfXhFQ Piano by Paul