Although I moved to Costa Rica from Virginia, I am originally from Tennessee. My father was in the bottling/soft drink industry and we moved around a LOT. (I had attended 13 schools by the time I graduated from high school.) Because I was “from Tennessee” (and moved about), I was often teased that we were really moonshiners. Though we were definitely not in the “alcohol side” of the industry, I was always amused by those who made their own. Well, I continue to be amused. Costa Rica has their own “moonshine”. Costa Rica’s moonshine is Vino de Coyol. The beverage is not really a “wine” as it comes from the sap of the Coyol tree. The Coyol is a type of palm tree whose trunk is covered with 4 inch spikes and commonly found in the Guanacaste region. Once the tree is cut, a hole is cut about the size of a fist where the sap is extracted. Once cut, the trunk is left for the sap inside to ferment. Coyol is typically not clear, but actually milky in color. It doesn’t really have a very high alcohol content, but it has enzymes and properties that have a similar effect as alcohol. I was told it is served in 1 of 3 stages: 1) immediately after cutting it is milky, sweet and not too potent; 2) after fermenting a bit, it could be a bit clearer, smoother and similar to Japanese sake in potency; or 3) a longer fermented, thicker, chalkier version. This latter version is the version that the Ticos like to talk about. The story around the Vino de Coyol is that with only a few glasses, you are “on the floor” drunk. One of the locals told me that Vino de Coyol was a “cheap” way to get drunk. It can produce one MEAN hangover, but a day out in the sun following a night of drinking it, you get drunk all over again. I have not tried the Ticos version of “nectar of the gods” ….but I eventually will…stay tuned.
June has proved to be truly beautiful in Guanacaste. The rains in that began in May have turned everything from scratchy and dry (including my skin) back to lush and rich (no skin comparison here). Some days it may be cloudy, but most days are sunny with a period of rain first thing in the morning or after sunset. The wildlife is very active again and the birds are singing and vibrant against the backdrop of the lush green foliage. The anoles and small lizards are out and are fun to watch..that is until…
I am a nature lover, but not the kind of nature lover that wants to watch the REAL survival techniques of nature. (I only watch the Shark Week episodes where the people get hit…not the baby seals.) These little lizards and anoles run out to sun themselves and puff up their chests in a funny manner. They are quick and funny to watch. They also RUN like the dickens when they sense a bird nearby. But the bird often outwits the lizard and they return to get more sun and then WHAM…it’s carried away. I think I would like nature even more if all other creatures just ate grass and insects. But as of late, we have witnessed both the lizards and beautiful moths devoured by the birds in a flash.
In addition to moths, we currently have butterflies EVERYWHERE. They are even spotted out at sea. There are a number of varieties spotted, but there is an abundance of yellow butterflies everywhere. Although the entire country of Costa Rica is only about the size of West Virginia, we have 1,300 – 1,500 species of butterflies in Costa Rica. In addition, there are currently a lot of caterpillars/centipedes/millipedes everywhere. Not sure what the “pedes” turn into, but most of them seem to just die on the sidewalk.
Almost everyone that comes for a visit asks me what I miss the most from the USA. Up until recently, I always answered “conveniences”. I mean TRULY we came from the “Land of Convenience”. Break something? Run to the store. Out of something? Run to the store. Need it by tomorrow? God Bless Amazon. But here…it’s going to take some time…IF you can ind it/buy it here. At this point though, I am getting used to not having the conveniences. If we need something, we have learned to ask people to bring it with them when they come. Amazon must now think I’m the most generous person in the world. I have gone from an account with 3 delivery addresses (self, parents, sister), to all over the USA and to a variety of names. But the conveniences are no longer what I miss most or the “hardest part” of living here.
My son visited a few weeks ago. I had not seen him in 10 months. For the past 10 months, I have cried just talking about him. My daughter, who lives with us here, threatens t smack me when I tear-up. May finally came along and I could tell everyone he was coming “THIS MONTH”! The week prior to his arrival, I would cry just thinking about the fact that, in about 8 days, I would be sad again because he was gone. That was BEFORE he even arrived. However, his trip was GREAT. We had the BEST week and had a blast zip-lining, mud buggy riding, surfing (he and his sister), fishing, eating, and just hanging out together. The only way to let loved ones go without crumbing is to discuss and plan the next visit. At the same time, I need to plan a visit to see my folks, my hubby needs to get back to Europe to visit his family, and we have to run a business. Soooo I would say being INCONVENIENT to those you love is the hardest part about living here.
As I’ve stated many times, the BEST part of living here is the people and the overall vibe. Costa Rica’s mantra is PURA VIDA, which means pure life. Others translate it as good life or simple life. Anyway, you get the meaning. The phrase is heard EVERYWHERE. Some people replace the “hola”, “buenos dias” and other greetings with simply “Pura Vida”! To the Costa Ricans, it is not just a phrase, but a way of life. The phrase originated over 50 years ago, presumably from a Mexican movie in the 1950s with that same title. The character in the movie kept saying “Pura Vida” to keep optimistic and happy in spite of contradictory circumstances. The Costa Ricans have embraced “Pura Vida” to its fullest as a motto for life. The locals focus on living a stress-free, laid back lifestyle. The “don’t sweat the small stuff” is very much a Pura Vida mentality. Life is about focusing on and being grateful for what you have. Life is good. So PURA VIDA!