Sunday, January 9, 2011

pura vida

Pure Life. For anyone who's ever been to Costa Rica, they're probably familiar with the term. Ticos (Costa Ricans) use it all the time, literally. They say it when exchanging "how are you"s, when talking about their days/weekends, when praising or encouraging just about everything. It's such a nice thought.
Which brings us to my time in San José. Ready for your first peak? On Friday morning I awoke to this view from our hotel window. Sure there's a huge parking lot, but I like how you can see the mountains in the distance and the clouds overhead. This truly is a lovely place to be.
We get complimentary breakfast at the Marriott Residence Inn, so each morning I've been gladly helping myself to their array of options. The first day I opted for toast because no matter how delicious gallo pinto (rice and beans) is, I have a feeling I'll get tired of it in the long run. Although I did literally just finish my morning plate of today with a generous serving. Gotta keep it interesting ;). On the other hand, whenever possible, I always reach for the fried plantains.
After breakfast, I've been taking advantage of the wi-fi in our lobby before we head out for our day. Friday we ventured outside the city to explore the surrounding towns that are famous for their crafts and woodwork. The first stop, Grecia.
Then Sanchi where we visited many shops and even a factory where they process the different kinds of beautiful wood and create the souvenirs. I'll let the majority of the photos from Sanchi speak for themselves...
In the past, ox carts like the one above (minus the amazing artwork) were widely used throughout Costa Rica. Now, they're mostly produced for decoration. 
Have you ever seen a coffee plant? Now you have :). They're along almost every single road. Coffee is one of Costa Rica's most important crops and has been throughout the country's existence. As I learned yesterday at the museum, it was also a form of currency for quite some time.

Out of all the wood used in jewelery-making, tiger wood was my favorite. The rings at the cross section look like brush strokes. Gorgeous.
Eventually we stopped our touring for a late lunch. I was starving. We both ordered casados, so the restaurant served us homemade chips and a sweet pico de gallo as an appetizer. It was gone quickly.
Then came our lunch plates; rather than served on one big one like usual, were separated into smaller servings. First came the salad with an odd macaroni salad over it and citrus lime-like fruits to squeeze over it as a dressing. I have to figure out the name of these, they're wonderful.
Then the vegetarian plate with rice, beans, a fried egg, corn salad, fresh cheese, and the belle of the ball, a fried plantain. Yum, yum, yum. I'm not strictly adhering to my veggie ways but there are a lot of options here which is great.
Afterwards, we headed back into San José to wash up and rest up before meeting some of the Gap Adventures crew. They're a fun group :). I was kind of tired but I did have my first taste of Costa Rican rum. For the record, it's very good.
If you couldn't tell already, I'm having a grand old time in Central America so far. I have one more day of San José to catch you up on and then we're headed to the rain forest for two days before traveling south to the beach and Panama. Pura vida just got a whole new meaning...


  1. Costa Rica is one of the places I plan to visit so I LOVE this post!

    I also love plantains! My mom used to make "plantain fingers" instead of chicken fingers and they were soooo good.

    Good to hear you're having fun!

  2. weeeeeeeeeeee! that wood is gorgeous!! it looks almost fake?! Interesting eats too and gorgeous pictures!!

    (p.s. sorry for being so out of the loooop!)

  3. danielle,

    i have not commented in far too long (life gets in the way, what a biatch!) but i could not be prouder of you for taking this leap and going to central america. i seriously sense such WONDERFUL things to come your way this year - this trip being the first of them. have an amazing time, and you know - if someone gets sick or has to drop out, i am ready and waiting to take the next flight to meet you down there.

    much love,

  4. Girl you've got some AWESOME pics! I am SO jealous that you're in costa rica! I have always wanted to go but haven't made it there yet. You are so lucky! Have an amazing time!!

  5. Fantastic pics!!!! Loving the colors.

  6. What a visual feast! I would LOVE fried plantains in the morning! I have a plantain smasher I have yet to used, but I'm feeling inspired :)

  7. VeggieGirl: Agreed :).

    Cindy: I'm so glad! Those sound so, so, so unbelievably amazing. The best fingers there are, I'm sure! Ha.

    glidingcalm: I know! Thanks so much and please don't apologize. Love, love, love.

    holly: Thank you so much for everything, my dear. I'll definitely keep you in mind if anything comes up!

    Courtney (Pancakes & Postcards): Thanks! You haven't made it YET, can't wait to see your pics when you do :).

    Jaclyn @ Baking Charms: Thank you!

    yearsoflife: Thanks! They're probably the best part.

    Gillian: Ooh, please use it :) yummm.


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