Friday, December 26, 2008

This little sticky toed frog and his friend like my bathroom.

Erika and Humberto at the Christmas pig party.

On December 24th our employees had their annual Christmas pig roast at our farm. We hired entertainment for the event and everyone ate and drank too much.

Here is a photo of my new play stove made by Sunbeam. I never thought I would own one of these, but it is interesting. Unlike American stoves, my full size roasting pan or cookie sheet will fit by inserting the pan in length wise rather than sideways. This means that I can cook the same amount of stuff in the play stove. Who knew?

My first cooking event in the oven was potato and squash enchiladas with a lite mole sauce. This recipe from cookbook author Didi Emmons is a keeper. Make extra because there will be no leftovers. The mole sauce is fantastic. I used ripe bananas and walnuts, I never would have guessed this combination would or could be so wonderful. Wow!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Rio Oro and Phil. Winter is coming to an end this month and we start our Summer,
I bought my stove with an oven and broiler. Only in the 3rd world do ovens come without broilers. Who knew? I still can not believe that a stove maker thought of this. It gets even more crazy. They also can come without an interior light, and with no glass in the door. Not a problem, I never could keep that glass clean enough to see through it anyway. My stoves were never for decoration, I am a sercious cook. The light I will miss, but it was not on the model I bought (with broiler). I was examining every detail of the stove for a half an hour at least, and, I had already been to every store in two towns when I realized that it did not say broil on every stove and every stove went to a different degree of hot on the dial. One model did not even give the temperature just low and high. How does that work for a cook using the oven? My model has 4 burners, oven and broiler, solomente, nada mas. I could not get it with auto ignition, that model did not have a broiler. Some models did not even have the storage draw in the bottom, just a fixed metal front plate. I never liked those stupid storage drawers. Ovens should be on the bottom portion and the little drawer should be above it and it should be a second oven, in my opinion. This configuration does exist already, I know, for a big price, not in Turrialba, and not in the little stove.

The broiler: Is located in the very bottom where that little storage drawer was located. The drawer does not pull out now, the door folds down, and the broiler pan slides in and out. Not one employee in any store knew this and they are still scratching their heads. I am not sure they know what a broiler is. They have no idea what they are selling, except a stove, whatever that means. It has an electric oven they said, no it doesn’t, it is gas, they were all gas. “NO, it is electric!” Really? Then why is there an ignition hole with the picture of a match here, I ask? They got the book out and are hurriedly looking through it. An electric oven would not serve my needs, I know that stoves can come like this but they are not available in Turrialba.

Like most stoves with one oven, you can not use the broiler and the oven at the same time. Okay. Then the geniuses at the store decided that you need the electric to regulate the gas. I don’t think so, that makes no sense to me at all, the knob does that... We will see.

I will light the stove with my butane BBQ lighter and use a flashlight to look in the oven. The cost for this gem was about $180.00 USD (96,040.00 colones) and it was on sale. If my electricity does not get better, the light bulb would not work anyway.

Phil wanted a different model that did not have a broiler, it had bells and whistles, a clock, light bulb in the oven, no broiler and the stupid drawer. “You don’t need a broiler”, yes I do! If I am getting a stove, I want the broiler!!! I don’t need the clock, I use the wind up timer for an alarm and I have a watch to tell what time it is.

Sometimes I wonder why everything is so hard to make happen. Will I use the broiler, I don’t know, it is literally on the floor…. But I use to broil, more than I baked until I started making our bread. We like broiled chicken, broiled steak, …… We no longer eat steak, because I don’t find cuts I can eat. I think they go to good restaurants, I give up.

So the stove is in the kitchen, still in its cardboard box. We need a part that fits in the back of the stove and connects it to the gas hose that goes to the cylinder. They don’t come with the stove and the appliance store does not sell them. They are at the hardware store my clerk, Raul, tells me. Oh, sure they are!!!!!!! Not!!! This is the 3rd #*&! world and it is little things like this that make it stay the 3rd world. No one can use the stoves without this part, so why don’t they sell them? Charge for them, overcharge even, and give one with each stove. No-no, that would make it too simple and we would not want to think of providing service to the customer, nor make life easier for anyone. So there it sits. Did I mention some assembly required? Yeah, we must put it together, like a gas grill from the Home Depot.

Phil at the Rio Oro checking out the damage caused by the wild river. We use to be able to drive across the river to the other side of our farm.

The heavy rains of November have been destructive to the rivers, roads, and crops. The potato crops on Volcan Irazu were mostly lost and the banana crop along the Atlantic coast is under water. In our area sugar cane was blown over and flattened in a random pattern. Every crop has been affected in some way by the winds and rain.

Cacao from our new rural tourismo project in Esperanza.

Cacao is a forest crop and we are going to plant it in our forest. Phil and Humberto harvested cacao (pods with seeds that become chocolate) from our trees and Humberto showed us how to eat the fruit of the cacao. It is sort of clear white and deliciously sweet. It does not taste like chocolate in any way, you spit out the dime sized seeds which are then fermented and roasted, later becoming chocolate. How cool is that? We will grow Cacao as a cash crop at the farm. CATIE is working on a new cultivar of Cacao and we will try that variety as well as what is here. I love chocolate, good chocolate, semi-sweet dark is my favorite.

Most of the world’s cacao comes from Africa, and most of that comes from Ghana and Costa de Marfil.

A new cultivar of cacao, bred for our area, will soon be available, it is suppose to have good disease resistance.

The cacao I photographed here comes from our new property that is part of our rural tourist resort in Esperanza. Cacao is a product of Central America but Costa Rica has only a small portion of the markets share.

Our small rural resort will create jobs and job opportunities for the people of Esperanza de Turrialba. We have beautiful waterfalls, mountains, trails, forests, rivers, beaches, pure water, organic food and birds of all kinds on our private 1,270 acre rainforest farm. Come, get away from it all and visit the real Costa Rica. Come meet the rural people and get a taste of the sweetest place on earth, Esperanza.

Here is a good close up of the indigenous child with the ear infection. I had cleaned his ear prior to this photo, and you can see the sores on his face. Because the child had no documentation, his parents did not make an attempt to seek help.

Food and foam mattresses were gifted by the Alcalde (Mayor). He is the tall man with glasses

Marcos is gifting a pair of used shoes to this small child who walked for 8 hours barefoot to get to our home from the reservation. Your gifts change their lives. Thank you.

Here are some of the faces that received sweatshirts that were donated by generous Americans. Thank you for your help.

This baby has a severe ear infection.

Cabecar Indigenous from the Chirripo Reservation were notified last week that they would receive emergency supplies. Today they arrived at our home and the Alcalde of Jiminez arrived with a truck load of foam mattresses, assorted food, tuna, beans, rice, soap, toothpaste and blankets. Before he came, I gave sweatshirts to the women and children. Our hefe’s wife brought used clothing and used children’s shoes. One little boy walked for 8 hours barefoot. He was delighted with his slightly used sneakers.

I held tiny babies today, none had diapers on, they have none. Cloth diapers would be a blessing.

A small child that I guess to be less than 2 years old had a terrible ear infection. I noticed the oozing crust that had built up on the now purple ear. I brought the hydrogen peroxide and asked permission to clean the ear and take a closer look, I quickly realized this child needed a real doctor. This young child was born on the reservation and his parents never documented his birth, so he has no cedula, no documentation. He is entitled to medical care but without official intervention he would most likely not receive it. The father wanted to go to Maqina Veija, someone there is practicing “natural medicine”. Whatever that means. I am all for alternative medicine and I use alternative medicine for us and for our animals, I went to nursing school, I also know my limitations. This same person treated the baby of Alexander and Sonja, with what I don’t know, but when babies and children have fevers you need to find out why. Their child had intestinal parasites so the magic potion was not going to take care of Mentos because no one asked why is my child having this reoccurring serious fever. When I picked up Mentos and his parents for the second time, again with the fever, I told Phil I think I can break this fever, but why is this child have reoccurring fevers. We need to find out why this is happening, there were no obvious signs of distress. Today I new the problem right away, but this baby has multiple problems and they were not just starting, the ear infection was critical, and sores on his skin could be signs of other problems.

Yes there are alternative treatments for parasites, but babies who have deteriorated health conditions need professional medical treatment fast. I hope that the child today received the care he needed from a medical professional.

Friends and friends I have never met donate sweatshirts, durable clothing, skirts, and educational supplies for the indigenous and rural poor. Today, because of the generosity of others I was able to hand out gifts of warmth donated by visitors to Costa Rica and Americans who live here. When you come to visit you can help the Cabecar by bringing an old suitcase filled with used clothing for children and women in small and medium sizes. The good folks at The Pura Vida Hotel, just 15 minutes from the San Jose airport, will keep your gift for us until we can get in the pick it up. If you are not going in that direction please just print out the hotel address directions from their web site and pay a cab driver to take it to Bernie and Nhi. Please put a note inside and outside with my name and information on it, Bernie will call me to say it has arrived. If you need a place to stay near the airport, they are wonderful hosts, Bernie is a Costa Rican historian and Nhi is an awesome cook. If you stay there once, you will defiantly return for another visit.

KW Cabecar Indigenous, donations, educational supplies

Today was a great day of discovery and interaction. There is so much need and so little help available for the Cabecar. I wish I could help the children and their Mothers just a little more, for they have the hardest life within the tribe. Education is always the key to a better life and it is no different for the Cabecar. We must help them get to a point of sustainability so they are not hungry and we must also help them to understand and meet their hygiene and dental needs. They received toothbrushes and toothpaste today, but I know that they don’t know what it is or what to do with it.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Phil was talking about a particular “old lady” yesterday and I said, I don’t think she is that old. He says she must be 65! Hello!!! I am 60, even if she was 65, it is just not that “old”. Yikes! Sometimes it may seem as if they must be way old based on the age of their oldest children (and he had that factored in), but,…no-no. They had the first child at 13, and that child had their children while they were still children, and those children were having babies at 13…... So you end up with this giant family of multi-generations, and the “old lady” is not an “old lady”. If you do the math based on my age 13 number, it is ugly, but not uncommon. Sometimes I question, “who does this baby actually belong to?”, because the great grandmother is not yet in menopause. This unfortunate circumstance means that undereducated breeders stuck in the poverty cycle are contributing to the population in a rapid repeat fashion. A person who’s really crappy education to begin with, ended at age 13, is not a educated consumer, nor an educated voter. This is how the communist party sneaks in and looks attractive to the poor, uneducated, over-babied peasant who is sitting on the sofa (no job) with the coil springs popped through the ripped red hide of a nauga, watching a beat up, old, tiny black and white TV with a snowy screen. This is not a made-up scenario in case you are wondering. Don Tonto just moved these folks. I originally called him Don Mark (the target) when I learned he was moving them, but he said he offered, which means I should call him Don Tonto (stupid), but a nice guy. I am not insulting him, these are tags of humor that we apply to ourselves, out loud and to each other when we find ourselves in awkward or embarrassing positions caused by our own stupidity, misunderstanding or inability to say no. This move made Jed Clampet and the Beverly Hillbillies look good, it should have been a bulk trash fire just for the purpose of sanitation. I am not trying to be unkind in my portrayal of this move, in fact, I have tempered the reality. I should have taken a photo (I was frozen in disbelief mumbling, “Oh my God”, and, it was raining). Our 20’ flat bed truck had a bicycle laid flat on top of the 7’ heap of mostly unrecognizable rubble (this was the second trip) and their skinny chained dog was quivering on top of the bike, in the now pouring rain. The beat up TV was wrapped in rotten nasty foam, and then covered in nasty soiled fabric, tied like a precious party gift with dirty string, and set on the front seat with Don Tonto. The women carrying babies were to find a place on the back of the truck with the rubble. Everyone has their priorities and pecking order, we know what is important here.

Monday, December 01, 2008

These three indigenous children’s father left them and their Mother and never returned. They have been in Esperanza for a sometime now. Recently, I found where they are living and tomorrow, manana por la manana, they will be leaving for parts unknown to me. The children are wearing sweatshirts donated by the Hyde family from Miami, Florida. Thank you very much for your gifts of warmth. Your generosity has changed the lives of a number of children. It has been very cold and the indigenous children have only the shirts on their back, nothing more.

I picked up the oldest child, Isabella, and the youngest child in this photo about a week ago while I was driving through my farm. It was about 60 degrees, pouring rain and they were soaked in flimsy, thin, cotton clothing. The tiny boy had a runny nose oozing down his face and giant smile. His sister was trying to carry him across the stream and she fell half dropping him in the water, not that he could have gotten any wetter. It was hard to hold the slippery child and her rubber boots at the same time. I stopped the car, and they jumped in the front seat immediately. Surprised and alarmed, I thought what if it had been someone else instead of me, and they jumped into the wrong car. Even though they do not know me, everyone knows who we are and I suppose the children aren’t any different. They are not afraid of us, but are curious about the gringos. I drove them through the farm and to the center of town to the spot where I now took these photos. They stared and smiled all of the way, never once taking their eyes off of me. I may be the only white, blonde haired woman they have ever seen.

I have seen this little girl carrying firewood on her back that may have weighed as much as 80 pounds or more. They are the equivalent of pack mules, this is their life, I am sad say.

It is 7:40 in the morning and here are a family of 7 indigenous going through my farm and back to the reservation. Two adults, 5 children and 3 dogs. The youngest child is set atop of the pack on her Mother’s back and tied there. The father said good bye as they passed, in Spanish of course.

They have one umbrella between them and they will walk for 8 more hours to reach their home high in the mountains. It has rained for the month of November, it was in the 50’s last night. Today they have a sunny blue sky day to make their journey to 6,000 ft. I hope the weather holds for them.

Please remember these folks and the other 10,000 plus who have nothing, struggle to survive, and need your gifts of practical warmth. Please either bring used sweatshirts to Costa Rica and donate them to my indigenous, or please send a donation and I will buy used sweatshirts at the Ropa Americana for the children. We also need crayons, pencils, and educational materials for the children. Many of the children need shoes, rubber boots, sneakers and school shoes, some children have no shoes. If you are visiting our country, pack your donations in an old suitcase, put my name on the outside and inside, print out driving instructions from and you can then give the directions to a cab driver and send your donations in that cab to the Pura Vida Hotel just 15 minutes from the airport. It is a small cab fee for you and the children appreciate your gift.

If you need a place to stay while coming or going, please stay at the Pura Vida Hotel, you can thank me later for this recommendation. The food is fantastic, Bernie is a historical guru, and Nhi is the best chef in Costa Rica. After one stay, you will return to them repeatedly, everyone does. They are gracious hosts and the best, most generous people. Without your help and their help, we would not be able to help the indigenous as we do. It is a combined effort of friends helping friends. Thank you for joining our team effort. Together we can make great strides forward in bringing the Cabecar Indigenous to sustainability.

If you wish to send a check, please mail it to:

Finca Quijote de Esperanza
Ginnee Hancock
Apdo 178-7150
Turrialba, Costa Rica

I will send you photos of the purchases and post photos of the children.

Thank you for your support and help. THANK YOU!!!

If you wish to know more about the indigenous there are many articles posted here on my blog. Please contact me at for more info regarding donations. If I do not contact you quickly it is because we do not have internet access, we live off the grid at our farm that borders the Cabecar reservation.