Te extraño, Costa Rica

by Jess

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.

View from Laguna Lodge, on Tortugero

View from Laguna Lodge, on Tortugero