Tag Archives: Family

La Tamalera

La Tamalera means the woman that makes Tamales. You may wonder what a Tamal is, but no reason to get impatient. I’ll get to that all throughout this post.

Tamales are one of the most time-honored Christmas traditions in Costa Rica. Like the rest of Latin America, tamales are a principal part of Christmas dinner. In Costa Rica, tamales are made from corn flour and are filled with many different ingredients, such as potato puree, rice, vegetables, garlic and onions, and shredded pork or chicken or beef, all wrapped in banana leaves and tied with string into squares, and boiled.

Christmas traditions in Costa Rica

After last nights party I slept in. Something that resulted in it being very warm already (26C) when I woke up. So… I decided to sleep some more.

When I woke up again it was already 1pm and Roshy y Mami had started making Tamales.

Roshy and I were put into the time lengthy job of cleaning the banana leaves so they were all clean of dust and other stuff, preparing them for using.

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Roxana washing Banana leaves

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Me washing Banana leaves

mami started cookinge the meat and the vegetables for the filling and the broth.

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Meat cooking and preparing for Tamales

Then we prepared the fillings.
We used Carrots, Prunes, Olives, Red bell peppers, Green peas, raisins and potatoes cut in stripes.
Not to forget:  For each tamal a peace of meat.

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Carrots prepared to be used as filling for Tamales

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Mami preparing La masa (the dough)

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How to fill a Tamal

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Mami filling tamales

Once the Tamales are filled, bundle them up two and two and put in a huge casserole for cooking. They now need 1-2 hours of cooking.

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Finished Tamales – Wrapped and ready for cooking

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Tamales cooking over open fire outside in the yard

Of course, this was a lot of work and a lot of effort inside today, however it was an excellent way to spend the day with my family and learn one of the most popular traditions for christmas.

And.. For dinner. Tamales.. Yummy :D

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Our Christmas Portal

For the full recipe to make Tamales go to my Recipe blog

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Canas Dulces with Angelica, hanging out with friends and watching the Hobbit at the cinema

This morning when I woke up Mami was already awake and she told me that one of our puppies had just died.  We went outside to check on it. There was no sign as to what might have happened to it, but a fair guess would be either a scorpion or a spider had bitten it. Poor thing. It was just lying there – stiff already. It’s mommy was visibly upset, checking on it constantly, trying to lick it back to life. It was sad.

Mami made us breakfast a bit later we had a very nice conversation. After that I had my shower and I prepared to go meet my friend Angelica and her daughter Mariangel. Angelica is a school teacher in Cañas Dulces  and she had an appointment with one of the parents today to hand over the school pictures and grades to one of the students and they had invited me to come along with them.

Cañas Dulces, In English: sweet canes, is known for its sugar production. Huge fields of sugar canes surround the city.

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Cañas Dulces

As we drove through the tiny city we saw these two horses parked outside the local pulperia. Horses are a common means of transportation in the Guanacaste region. Guanacaste is known as the agricultural region of Costa Rica.

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Horses parked outside a pulperia

We drove past the village and the school and we turned left and onto a small unpaved road which led to a beautiful old house and a gorgeous garden.

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Beautiful Bougainvillas in the garden

Back home in Norway each year for christmas we decorate with small Christmas Stars (Poinsettias) indoors to light up an otherwise dark season. In Costa Rica they grow in bushes that can become as tall as 5 meters. This one is only 3 meters tall :D

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Me

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Angelica y Mariangel

The owners of the house wanted to show us around on the farm and they took us for a walk. They have cattle. I always loved this species of cattle. They have huge rabbit like ears. I am also fascinated by the loose skin hanging down from its neck.

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Cows

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A beautiful calf. It looks like its skin is several sizes too big still.

Once we had crossed the fields where the cows were grassing, we came to the banana plant area and then we walked through the bean and rice fields. It was a gorgeous day and a beautifu walk.

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Banana Palms

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Angelica showing off the beans

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Angelica and the kids with the Espantapajaros

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Caterpillar

We returned back to the house after enjoying the view over the nearby valley and then we bought each our 5 kg farmbred chickens. They were frozen and plucked already, but at very good prices.

After our visit at the fam we went up to the Mirador restaurant to get a view over the Cañas Dulces area, before we got home.

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Panoramic view over Cañas Dulces

Around 3pm we were home and I had not had enough adventures for one day so I took off again in search of my friend Bryan to take him out for a walk. We walked around in the barrio where I used to live, we walked past my old house and into Barrio San Roque where we found a Musmanni bakery where we got some pastry. From there we went back to barrio Moracia and followed the streets behind the Hospital (Enrique Baltodano) and we went to visit our old school friend Marlen.

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Marlen and Bryan

When I finally was done roaming around my sister Roshy, her husband and the kids were on their way to go to the movies and they invited me to join them. Even if I had already seen the film I joined in. Going to the movies is never a bad thing and one can never watch The Hobbit too many times :D

Our new pet the dove, picking grapefruits in the garden and other adventures

This morning I found a baby dove hiding in between one of our dog’s legs.

It was so small that it’s feathers were not yet fully grown yet. It had probably fallen out of the nest in the Grapefruit tree in our garden and our dog, Laika, had decided to take care of it. She was so up for her task that she was growling at the white dog, Gemela. when se tried getting close to look at the bird. She also got angry with her puppies when they wanted her milk (probably cause they sat down on the bird) and that was my call to rescue the bird.

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The dove hiding between the dog’s tits

We put her in a cage and gave her a tiny blanket and Luis asked his mom if he could keep the dove as a pet. When she said yes, I went out to search for a veterinary to figure out what to feed her. I got 250 grams of chicken food for 25cents and instructions on how to feed her. When I got home we mixed the food with water and gave it to her and to our luck she ate. She is big enough to eat by herself, which will mean she has a chance at survival. We served her food in a tiny lid and made sure she was good in her cage.

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The dove in its box

While I was out walking and searching for the veterinary I passed by one of my best friend’s house and dropped by for a surprise visit. We haven’t seen each other since 2006/2007 when I was here for 3 months. Last time I came to visit Liberia, he was in out travelling and we didn’t get to meet however we have kept in touch through skype and email. It was really nice to meet up again we spent hours catching up and when I went home he gave me a huge bag of carambolas (star fruits) to bring home to Mami y Papi to make juice from them.

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Starfruit – Carambolas

Mami was happy to get the Carambolas and I had bought a Papaya, so when I got home it was my job to peel and cut the Papaya and a Pineapple to keep in the fridge, wash the Carambolas and then I helped Mami to pick Grapefruit from the tree in the garden.

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Mami and Luis catching Grapefruit

We picked a whole basket full,  but in the end we were both covered by ants that fell down during fruit picking. Thankfully we found most of them before they started biting…

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A basket full of Grapefruit

About 7:pm I headed downtown again to meet my friend Ana. We had scheduled a dinner date so I met her at her work so that we could leave together. We brought with us a cute 10 year old friend of hers, Eidi Luisa, and headed for a seafood place called Marisqueria Tierra Mar where we ordered lovely pasta with seafood and Ceviche. Great food and a great place.

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Ana’s husband, Jim, joined us later on and I told them about my adventures earlier in the day picking grapefruits. Both their mouths were watering as I told them about how juicy and sweet the grapefruits were and when they offered to drop me off at home I was happy to share from the bunch and give them a few. It was a lovely day and a lovely night. At home everyone were sound asleep and I went to sleep as well.

Puppy love, Swimming pool and the Beach

I woke up at 6:30 and had a lovely Tico breakfast with Mami. Papi was already working in the garden and when breakfast was over and I had had my shower I joined him out there to play with the puppies. We have 3 adorable puppies (what was left of both the litters). They are so cute!

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Deeply focused in what his sisters are playing with…

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And these tow are trying to bite each others ears off.

The one to the left Papi named her Kaiman and Mami named her Dulcita. Seems like there is no hope of them agreeing to the name either. Papi is set on the name Kaiman. They laugh and joke around with it though.

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Roxanas kid Luis’ joined me in the garden to play with the dogs.

At 10:30 I was ready to rumble and packed my bag for a day in the sun and headed out. I walked around enjoying the lovey weather for a while and then headed to the Best Western Hotel El Sitio. They have a lovely swimming pool that they let locals use for a small fee.

I changed and enjoyed the sun utterly. The sun kissing my body and the warmth radiating from it. I ordered a Papaya in Milk smoothie which tasted like from heaven. It was just wonderful.

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At 1:30 I ordered Chicken  Rice and Chips and just a few minutes after my lunch arrived Federico called and asked if I wanted to join them for the beach. Federico had a meeting to attend to with his work so instead of going alone, he brought the family with him so they could enjoy the beach.  Of course I wanted to join them so I ate as fast as I could and just a few minutes after they called again to ask me if I was ready. They were outside the hotel already. I changed and packed in 5 minutes and finished eating and ran outside. In the car I realized I had already gotten a sunburn. Dammit.

Anyways, we were soon on the road and the whole gang was rather cheerful. We stopped to get some water for the trip and then we continued on to Tamarindo. It takes about an hour and 20 minutes to drive to Tamarindo from Liberia. The kids were fed up by then, but when they finally got their way out of the car they were superhappy. Tamarindo is a beautiful beach, but it also has a beach village famous for tourist parties and not only that, it is also a small part of the National park Marino Las Baulas.

We enjoyed the village of Tamarindo and we walked around shopping. We found a store called Papaya con leche where they make custom made bikinis. I ordered one that they will make for me. It wasn’t cheap, but… its gonna be awesome :D

We continued shopping for a while before we went down to the beach where the kids played in the sand and went for a swim.

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Anita playing in the sand

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Isabella

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Noylin and Rebeka walking the beach

We watched the sun set over the Pacific ocean while listening to the waves hit the beach and the mild wind sweep through the palms … A dream come through.

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Sunset at the beach

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On our way back to meet Federico we walked past a few nice restaurants that were decorated for Christmas. I guess Santa will visit at the beach too

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Christmas at the beach.

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Federico was done in his meeting and soon we were on our way home. Not long before we arrived to Liberia

On our way back home we stopped to buy chicken and we had dinner back home at Federico’s place. I spent about an hour there before I went back home to Mami and Papi to spend the rest of the evening with them.

Running Errands in Liberia

On my third day in Costa Rica it was finally time to go get organized and after breakfast I joined Mami in running errands. Mami first had to go to a different bank, but she asked me to draw a number for her as well in case that would come up first and she would make it in time. Monday mornings are busy in the bank (like 1 hour lines etc) and back in Norway I would do most of the things I had to do in the bank electronically, but here I don’t have an internet banking option for my account yet and I need to get a new code for my BNCR debet card anyway, so I went to the bank to draw my number and one number for Mami. Mami is a senior citizen and senior citizen/pregnant/disabled have a special priority line where they will get served faster. Unfortunately for me to be allowed to use her number she has to be present and she didn’t make it in time so I went to pick up a new number for her. She arrived shortly after and then it was our turn and I got a shitload of Colones and felt really rich (for a while – until I started using them :D They are about 500 per Dollar)

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After my errand at the bank I went to visit my friend Ana from Venezuela. Ana’s hair dressing salon, Pura Belleza, is located just 100 meters from the post office.

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It was great seeing her again and we chatted along for a while until she had her next appointment, but we made sure to organize a new meeting within a few days and then I moved on to go shopping. My first stop was at Arenas, one of the many local surf shops exclusively for clothes, shoes and accessories for beach sports in town. I found a nice little bag that I bought before I moved on.

Arenas

I went home after this and spent a few hours sorting the gifts I had brought from home and wrapping them in paper and sorting them in giftbags. It was enjoyable as Mami accompanied me the whole time and we talked and talked.

At about 2pm I left the house and went for a walk. I ended up down by Jumbo where I picked up a few groceries for dinner and then I went back home to help Mami making dinner and then after dinner we watched TV at home. Some western movie but it was nice to spend time with Mami and Papi.

Breakfast wedding

I woke up at 5:30 this morning and got showered and when Mami woke up she asked me if I wanted to accompany her for a wedding. The wedding was set for 8am in the church serving breakfast after the ceremony in the local community building afterwards.

There is a first for everything.
This wedding actually has 4 firsts for me:
1. It is the first wedding I go to where I don’t know either Groom nor Bride
2. It is the first wedding I go to where I don’t even know the name of either Groom nor Bride
3. It is the first wedding I go to where I don’t know any of the other attendants
4. It is the first Breakfast wedding I have ever attended.

Of course I had to go :D So I prepped up and put on a summer dress and makeup and joined Mami and Papi for the ceremony. Papi wanted to join us for church, but he was elsewise engaged after mass and not able to join us for the celebration.

We went to the church where Mami met several of her friends. Mami works as a volunteer at the local Retirement home and the bride is one of her colleagues. At the church I had to ask what the names of the Bride and Groom are. I was quite embarrassed, but Mami just laughed (although she did tell me their names).

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Oscar and Valeria getting Married

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Mami and I at the wedding reception

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Mami and Dona Florita and other volunteers at the retirement home

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The newlyweds celebrating with their friends and family

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Cabita dancing around while serving wine for the toast.

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Bride and Groom enjoying entertainment.

It was a nice wedding, We were served Gallo Pinto, Cheese, Eggs and Coffee (No eggs for me :( … ) and fruit for dessert. Gorgeous Papaya, Sweet Pineapple and Guayaba and Apples and Oranges.

After breakfast the Bride threw the bouquet to the single women and the Groom had to remove the garter from the Brides leg with his mouth and then he threw this to the single men. All of this I have seen before, but I have not seen that the Single man that caught the garter had to put it on the Single woman who caught the bouquet – with his mouth. That gave a new touch to it all.

After the entertainment Latin rhythms filled the community building and people started dancing. This was when Mami and I felt we had participated enough and called Papi to come pick us up and Mami offered one of her friends a ride to get home.

Houston USA – Liberia CR – Cañon de la Vieja

I woke up 5:30 as Lisa woke up in the other bed in the room and we spent about an hour talking before we had to get out of bed, which left me with 30 minutes to get ready and on my way. Lisa drove me to my terminal where I checked in and went through the security control. My flight had changed from terminal C to E, but that great because between the two terminals there is a nice little shopping area. For breakfast I had some amazing chocolate covered strawberries and I found some really cool Christmas decorations for my tree. A Texas cowboy hat and a boot ! :D Awesome.

The plane was almost full, but the seat next to me was unoccupied and both me and the guy by the window were happy for that. Extra space in airplanes is not granted too often :D He was a Costa Rica first timer and had lots of questions about where to go and what to see.

We arrived Costa Rica on time at 12:30, and in the passport control I was lucky enough to meet one of my friends working in the airport who opened up a new counter and let me go through customs as one of the first in line. I was also lucky to find my luggage coming out as one of the first ones :D Yay! Go VIP treatment :D

Mami, my sister Roxana, husband Gilber and son Luis were my welcome committee and they relieved me from my luggage and showed me to the car, and then we went home to have lunch.

Cañon de la Vieja

During lunch my brother Federico called to ask if I wanted to join his family to go swimming and enjoy the afternoon. Of course I joined them.

Cañon de la vieja is a hotel with swimming pools, spa treatment, hanging bridges and much more and its just about 15 minutes drive away from Liberia. Federico came to pick me up with his wife Noylin, kids Ana and Isabella and nanny Rebeca. Arriving there Federico sat down in the shade in the bar and had a drink and the kids and I went for a swim. Noylin joined us shortly after and we had fun for a long time playing in the water.

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Swimming pool at Cañon de la Vieja

When we were done we decided to go check out the hanging bridge. I brought with me Ana because she was really afraid to cross but in the end she had lots of fun. Isabella, Noylin and Rebeca joined us shortly after.

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Me with Ana

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Isabella and Noylin on the hanging bridge

Later on we went to the spa pools. Costa Rica has lots of thermal waters, but this was a regular heated spa pool. Nonetheless… Very enjoyable temperature compared to temperatures at home right now.

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Spa pool

Just before 5pm we joined Federico by the bar and changed the kids before we headed back home.

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Noylin, Federico and Isabella

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White Throathed Magpie-Jay

Well at home I arrived just in time for dinner and Mami had cooked us a nice meal which we enjoyed together. A great day ended with movies at home with Mami and Papi and early bedtime after 2 nights in a row with just 3 hours of sleep :D