Te extraño, Costa Rica
I miss Costa Rica.
I spent a month there studying Spanish a few years ago, and I was reading a friend’s blog about her more recent trip, and now I miss it desperately. I miss the dumpy street in Zapote where I lived with my host family. I miss the churches, the mountains, the pristine beaches, the hot springs. I miss the dirty streets and winding indoor markets and street vendors and exhaust fumes of San José.
I miss the food.
Gallo pinto is Costa Rica’s national dish. It literally means spotted rooster, and it is composed of black beans, fried rice, a mix of herbs and spices, and often topped with a fried egg. You can eat gallo pinto for any meal of the day, but at lunch or dinner, it’s called a casado when it’s combined with meat and side dishes like plátanos or wedges of their delicious queso blanco. It’s called a casado (married) because it’s the perfect marriage of delicious flavors. I’d kill my dog to have a homemade casado here in front of me right now.
My host family used to make me a breakfast just like this every day, with fresh squeezed juice and all the fixin’s. The only thing missing here is a steaming cup of fresh Costa Rican coffee.
And the fruit! We used to take a break from class mid-morning for un cafecito and fresh mango, pineapple, and papaya. I’ve never had better-tasting fruit in my entire life. One afternoon at the Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio beach, I was jonesing for some pineapple, so I approached a vendor who had strung up some fruits between two palm trees. For some ridiculous price, like 50 cents, he pulled down a pineapple and hacked it into neat rounds with a machete. I have sweet dreams about that pineapple.
If I had my life to live over, I’d stay for six months. A year. Maybe one day I’ll go back. Take the family to Laguna Lodge on Tortugero and watch the sunset on the canal.