Day 162, el domingo 22 de diciembre 2012 11:28
Christmas in Costa Rica is all about the food, well actually all days in Costa Rica are all about food. So in preparation for Christmas we made tamales, and a lot of them: 444. Tamales is traditional Central American food, corn mass, with herb mass, vegetables and meat wrapped up in banana leaves.
First on Friday we cleaned and cut around 800 banana leaves, they came from a farm from one of my uncles, always gotta have banana leaves ready around Christmas. Yesterday we got up early to go to Desmonte to the house of my uncle, they told me that we were going to get up at 5 but we always end up getting up at 7 anyways. At my uncles house I first slept a few hours more since I was, and still am pretty tired of all those busy days. I assigned as kitchen assistant under the leading chef cook trio of my uncle, aunt and hostmom, who were fighting all the time about how the Tamales should be made; interesting is that the grandmother of 89 years old always has the last call, old people are very well respected here for their experience and knowledge. As an assistant my job was to grain the herbs, we used a lot of herbs and everything had to be as pure as possible, you don’t buy pepper powder in the supermarket, you buy real peppers at a market and grain them with a wine bottle. Hours passed of getting the ingredients ready and cooking the mass, and then finally after 7 hours we could actually start making the tamales.
Making tamales is done in the following order:
1. Grab 2 banana leaves
2. Put 1 spoon corn mass on it
3. Half a spoon herb mass
4. 1 piece of pork or chicken
5. Vegetables L
6. Fold them into a package
7. Put 2 together and tie them together with a piece of rope
8. Cook them
Too bad we only make tamales one time a year so I can’t really learn how to make them but I’ll do my best next year in The Netherlands with Christmas.
Day 162, el Domingo 23 de noviembre 2012 22:54
I noticed another Christmas tradition of Costa Rica today, parties a lot of parties. They are like the New Year receptions we have in the Netherlands; people get together drink and eat something. Today was the party of Taekwondo, it was not such a good party, not that many people came and we practically just ate meat in tortillas and drank coca. One of the trainers told a pretty funny story about a teammate of mine who broke his leg a few days ago during the national championships; good imitations will always be funny, not important which language.
The best part of the party was before the party, I went with Chino and his dad, also Chino to a nearby river. We climbed a bit over de rocks to a small pool within the river, and from there we threw ourselves from rocks a few times. I really like Chino and his dad, they are very good to talk to and I like how they see life, they aren’t like the average Ticos. An example:
-I’m not sure if I want to swim.
- What’s going to happen? You will get wet and then you will dry.
I love it because most Ticos are like, oh no you will get cold, and you didn’t bring a towel. To me they are living very Pura Vida, more Pura Vida as most people. They invited me to do a lot of stuff, so I hope we will actually do it, I guess so since they are not like the average Tico, but still the initiative has to come from me.
In the evening I cooked dinner and watched a movie with my brother, it is always good to do something together. But still I have to be honest that sometimes it feels kind of forced to do something if you haven’t done anything together for a while. That’s what I miss, the fact that everything is natural in my family in The Netherlands, nothing forced. Also I sometimes still feel that I am invading a life, I know it is not that way, they are happy with me and I know that, but these ideas will always come into my head time by time, either during television commercials, under the shower or in bed; ideas good or bad come and go.
Dia 165, el Miercoles 26 de diciembre2012 10:10
Christmas; the event of the year in a lot of cultures around the world. In Costa Rica it is a big deal, 2 months before the magic days people start talking about it, decorating the house and putting up trees. And with all this talking and decorating and singing the same Christmas song (actually just 1 sentence over and over again) with all this; they still don’t plan. Christmas presents are bought in the 24th and the Christmas party is organized 3 or 2 days before. But I now I finally got how come they don’t plan and still a lot of people come to the parties, and the parties still are good. It is because of the fact that nobody plans; nobody has plans for the day so if they get called, they can always come, and everybody brings some food or cola so that isn’t a problem either. This ‘system’ works pretty well, but it doesn’t really work for me since I do make plans and I get called when I already have plans. So I never understood why they call me on the day itself and that way I missed out on a few things.
Now about Christmas; the 24th is preparation, I went to my uncle in Desmonte with Marcela a really cool cousin of mine who works in San José but actually just spends all day on Facebook, which actually is her work. She works for Múúú milk and promotes it on Facebook, seems like a nice job to me. And she has a cool beachboogie which we will take through a river someday! So, at my uncle’s house I made my famous chocolatechip brownie orea fudge cake for the party later in the evening. At 8 I went to the church with my hostbrother and the grandmother to keep her company. I must honestly say that I did not like since I am not religious, I felt like a liar being there.
After the church it was time for the party, a lot of food, cola karaoke and dancing. It actually was just like every family party we have but with a bit more people. It was nice but it did not feel like Christmas at all, there is no cold, no cooking and preparing family dinner all day, no snow, no Christmas songs ( we don’t have a radio). I did have a good time, it just didn’t feel like Christmas. After the party we drove around Orotina without any purpose, just to drive. That is another thing Costa Ricans like, after you have been somewhere they love to drive around, just through the streets of the town or to another town; just driving. I have no idea why they do it, maybe it is culture, or maybe they are crazy.
The next morning I slept till 11:20; extremely late in Costa Rica. It is a tradition that everybody can sleep until they want, and I loved it. Normally we have a wake-up time, like most little kids have go-to-sleep times I have a wake-up time. First we went to my other grandmother where I could use the internet to talk with my family for a bit and later it was present time! It felt a lot like 5th of December except for the fact that the presents were under the tree instead of in big brown bags. It felt very good to give all my gifts, half from the Netherlands and half I bought here in Costa Rica. They were very thankful, and I got very very nice gifts as well. I had a huge smile on my face during the present sharing.
Later we went to the beach; we went to an open-sea beach about half an hour away from Orotina. The beach was not that pretty but it was very nice to swim and just to go somewhere with my family. First we drove the whole beach up and down, just because. And then we settle down at a huge rock formation. I had never seen something like that in Costa Rica. it is like Great Britain, but a bit smaller, just 300 meter of rock, 5 meters high standing there, separating 2 beaches; I loved it. We took a walk over it and we saw some beautiful houses. And I always can’t led it to think about how it would be to have a host family here. And I dislike myself for thinking that way, but thoughts are there, they come and go. There was a beautiful sunset. The sunsets in Costa Rica simply are just way more beautiful as the ones in Europe, the sun is so much bigger and it just is.
I made dinner with my hostmom later in the evening and after it everybody was tired and went to their rooms to sleep, I would have liked to have a game night sine my hostbrothers got cool presents from my parents in the Netherlands, but that has to wait till another night.
So Christmas was not the special for me, I had a very nice time and I bonded more and more with my family but it was not epic. But with that comes that I have not been homesick because if Christmas, so that is a good point!