La Parra

I had the single best meal tonight for dinner since arriving in Costa Rica. If you are ever near the University of Costa Rica for dinner, I highly recommend La Parra. Like most restaurants in this area, it seems, they don’t have a website. But they are good solid Argentinian food. Their “address” is Barrio Escalante, Del Farolito 200 este y 25 sur. I got to meet all three co-owners, a mother, her daughter, and her daughter’s husband. The mother also joked that the 1 year old grandson might as well be co-owner too (and what a cutey!). The head chef (the daughter) was actually the person who took my order, as I was the only diner in the restaurant (they are a new restaurant, and I think I was a bit early for Tico dinner time). Her English was good enough, and my Spanish bad enough, that we figured out something for me to eat. When she learned I have la enfermedad celiac and that I wanted fish for dinner, she told me she could make tilapia with garlic. It doesn’t sound impressive, but oh, it was. I saw, and tasted, a bit of rosemary in there too. I definitely savored every bite of that fish. Dessert was some flan. And then some more flan. I could have kept eating, but decided that since I leave to return to the US tomorrow, that getting back and getting packed was a wise idea. Even if I haven’t started packing… more than an hour later. To top it all off, my dinner was less than $15, and that includes two glasses of decent Chilean wine. Good food, friendly conversation with the owners, that to me is what makes a good meal out.


Exercise motivation

I managed to get myself motivated to exercise again tonight. I’m still sore from the other day! The thing I hate about exercise is sweating. Oddly enough, I love feeling sore.
And nothing like some added motivation. Turned on the tv in my hotel room hoping to find music. I found the season finale of Biggest Loser instead. Even better!

Todays log:
12 sun salutations
45 crunches
15 leg ups
boat pose
half of my physical therapy exercises

Tico times

If you have not been to Costa Rica, let me tell you a few things.

One, it is not incorrect to say that many Ticos (what Costa Ricans call themselves) know English. However, for many of them, their English is about as good as the average American knows another language, which is to say not very well. Even more are just shy about their English. One of my collaboraters undergrads told me when I first got here that she didn’t really know English. Yet yesterday when she walked me through campus her English was quite good. If you know basic Spanish here, you’ll likely be like me, able to get your point across but unable to understand the response. Or look like an idiot when you stare quizzically at people.

Two, Tico drivers are NUTS. They put New York drivers to shame 10 times over. Double yellow lines, red lights, stop signs, speed limits, are all just mere suggestions. The private drivers are nuts. The taxi drivers are nuts. Hell, even my bus driver the other day was nuts cutting off other buses. And yet everyone here seems to jay walk. At least all the motorcycle riders wear helmets and reflective vests.

Three, there are no addresses in Costa Rica. At least not how we think about it in the US. Nothing has a true street address. Hell, the undergrad last night told me she doesn’t know the name of the street she lives on. The address of my hotel? 70 meters west of Taco Bell. Don’t know where the Taco Bell is? It’s near the University and Mall San Pedro. Yup, that’s the best you’ll get.

Four, this city is noisy unlike any city I’ve been in. Particularly since the hotel doesn’t have air conditioning, which means I can’t close my windows (the temp outside is fine), which means that I can hear the night time traffic, and the significant uptick it makes early in the morning (and then the whistle for the commuter train). I think I’d much rather be back at the Biological Station with all the odd night creature noises.

Five, do Ticos not believe in wash clothes? The first hotel I stayed at didn’t put any in the room. The Biological Station didn’t either. Nor does this hotel. Not sure n=3 is significant though.

Six, Ticos just elected their first female president and I believe the first female president in the region. They also have a goal to be carbon neutral by 20?? (sometime not too far in the future that I can’t remember right now). Costa Rica actually was carbon neutral a number of years ago, but fuels have put them back to spewing out more. Some places do a fabulous job with this. The biological station asks you to sort all of your trash (paper, plastic, organics {in the true sense of the word}, etc). Many places have little signs reminding you to save the world by turning off lights and using less water (I’ll have to get a picture of the one in the women’s room in the building I’m working in the University). This should probably be split into two things because I think their carbon neutral plan is absolutely awesome. In this regard, I think the US has a lot they could learn from Costa Rica.

There you have it. Six things I think you should know about Costa Rica.

Do it NOW

I’m back in San Jose for a few nights. I spent the last 10 days at La Selva Biological Station. Un/Fortunately el comedor fed me very good comida sin gluten, so I doubt I left any lighter than when I arrived, despite spending a few VERY sweaty mornings on the trails both wandering around and doing some collections. Right now I’m hanging out in my hotel room. The unfortunate side of traveling during el invierno is that it’s been raining all afternoon. Not good wandering weather. I wandered around el Museo Nacional for a bit and helped stimulate the Costa Rican economy but now I’ve nothing to do. Rather than think about how much I really need to start exercising when I get home, I did some exercise NOW. Why wait? I’ve got nothing else to do with my time. I’d like to do a load of laundry so that I don’t go to Monte Verde with a suitcase smelling like a peccary, which you can smell from 15 feet away, even if you can’t see them in the forest. Below is my exercise log, which maybe I should make more public to keep me more accountable?

8 sun salutations
40 crunches
tree pose
boat pose
10 girly pushups
physical therapy exercises

Costa Rica

My life schedule will be totally messed with likely for the next 2+ weeks. I’m in Costa Rica to do field work. So on the one hand, some of my food will probably be some of the best local food you can get. On the other hand, some of it will be pure crap. And who knew that the TSA didn’t allow natural peanut butter through security? I was peeved and it was the one thing that almost set me over the edge tears wise with this trip so far.
The up side is that doing field work I will likely get more exercise than I’ve ever regularly gotten. But I think I’m going to have a hard time balancing it with the food culture here. I snack. Often. And my snack food will likely be gone soon (hell, we had lunch at around noon today, but dinner won’t be until after 8pm). My body does not like this thus far. But hopefully it will all add up to me returning home a few pounds lighter and appreciating a few things that I currently take for granted.

By the time I return home, it should be almost CSA season. I’m looking forward to writing about what I do with my CSA boxes again.

Braveheart – follow up

How did I do on the weekend warrior challenge?
Well, if we were to go by numbers on the scale this morning, crappy. That sliver of green this weekend is still my only sliver of green. At the rate I’m going, I should explode in a few months.

1. I made it to the Farmer’s Market Sat morning. But as I said in my follow up post to that, there isn’t much produce to find at a Wisconsin Farmer’s Market at the end of April.
2. I stopped in to lab Sat and took the stairs. I also went in to get work done Sun and took the stairs then too. This goal is becoming old hat and I think I’m going to need to up the ante soon.
3. I’m not really sure how I did with the whole eat my veggies first thing, but it’s an idea that’s stuck in my mind, as I did it today and I know I’ve been thinking about it. So I guess we can say I did it.

Eating seasonally

Eating seasonally in Wisconsin can be hard for part of the year. While much of the rest of the country is celebrating spring vegetables, spring is really just starting here. And that was in full evidence at the Farmer’s Market this morning. While I’ve seen tons of recipes popping up for asparagus, as the quintessential spring vegetable, there wasn’t a single one in site at the Farmer’s Market this morning. It’s just too early in the season. So while I went with the intention of beginning my ‘eat even more local’ quest, I didn’t come home with much. My only real veggie options were spinach, rhubarb, spring onions, mustard greens, and some greenhouse tomatoes. As usual, there were tons of different kinds of cheese and an assortment of evil baked goods.

This is what I came home with:

What you see here is 24 oz of Basswood honey (good for tea supposedly, which is what I’ll use it for): $7.75. 12oz of spinach: $2. 1lb of nitrite free bacon and 3.5lb or so of chuck roast: $21.85. (you can also see the kitchen counter bin for stuff destined for the worm bin)

Not exactly enough to get me through to next week! But it’s a start, especially the meat. I’ve not bought meat from the Farmer’s Market before. There were a few meat vendors, two selling pork and beef (and one selling just Elk!). As I’ve got an Amish raised chicken being purchased for me this weekend by a coworker, I stayed away from the chicken people. Jordandal Farm seemed like they had reasonable prices and cuts of meat I know what to do with, so I went with them today for the bacon and chuck roast. Though honestly, if these are the prices I’ll need to pay to eat local meat that I believe in, I’ll be eating a lot less meat real fast!