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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Parties, Protests and Photo Projects

The "late crowd"

Given how close we live to a "blue zone" here in Costa Rica, one of those areas around the world where people seem to live much longer, you might think that turning seventy would be no big deal. After all, if you're likely to live to be 100 or more, seventy is practically a teenager. Nevertheless, when we learned that our good friend Marc was leaving his sixties behind, it seemed like a good excuse for a party. So on Friday the 2nd of November, Layne and I hosted a big to-do for Marc and about thirty of his friends and it turned out to be a festive event indeed. Even our favorite bus driver Johnny and his wife showed up plus several people we didn't even know were invited!

As luck would have it, just before party starting time, the heavens opened up and we were hit with the kind of downpour that only happens in the tropics. Although it did deter a few people who were coming from a distance, most locals braved the weather and made the trip up to Santa Eulalia. Unfortunately, the inclement evening made dancing on the back patio difficult since chairs were congregated on the "dance floor." 
The crowded "dance floor"
But my spaghetti -- made of course with Marcial's Italian Sausage -- Eroca's eggplant parmesan and Stephen's fabulous salad were welcome treats for the stalwart group. At the birthday boy's request, his cake was the decadent Delicious Temptation chocolate-on-chocolate-topped-with-caramel concoction made by the crew at Kay's Gringo Postre; it was definitely the star attraction of the dinner. Wow, what a cake! 
Marc with that Delicious Temptation cake
The early crowd soon made way for the late crowd and even with Eroca's invaluable help in the kitchen, Layne and I were still cleaning up as midnight came and went.
Eroca on KP
Nevertheless, the extravagance of Friday was no excuse to avoid our walk on Sunday morning but at least we all agreed to push the hour a bit later. At 9:30 a.m. Layne and I were on our way to Marcial and Seidy's, Marc and Eroca's, then on to Stephen and Bonnie's place where we hiked off cross-country toward San Jose Sur, a community up the road toward Palmares from Santa Eulalia. Along the way, we were met by a horde of racing bicyclists as they tore along the back roads, watching carefully to avoid potholes. As some of us took a break on a bridge, we noticed a huge nest in a tree hanging out over the stream, apparently home to a zillion termites. 

Bicyclists heading our way
A home for termites
Stephen under a huge Guanacaste tree
The plan was to time our walk so we could enjoy lunch at the beautiful El Mirador el Pueblo, a glass-enclosed restaurant with killer views that boasts some of the best fish around. The owner is an old friend of Marcial's, as he used to run a small bar and restaurant just around the corner from our house and thus almost across the street from Marcial and Seidy's place. Naturally, we got first-class service at El Mirador. Most of us chose a "casado," a curious Tico term that means "married" but also refers to a typical Costa Rican plate of rice, beans, salad, plantain and your choice of meat. In our case, we opted for the excellent corvina, or sea bass, browned to perfection.

After such an indulgent weekend, Layne and Bonnie and I dragged ourselves to the gym on Monday morning to work off some of the good times. At the grocery store afterwards, we happened to see our friend Eric who runs the organic market here and who informed us of a demonstration set for the next day in San Jose to protest the introduction of genetically modified seeds into Costa Rica. Since Layne and I had plans to go into San Jose anyway, we decided to put on our journalist hats and attend the event in order to write up a report for The Costa Rica News. It turned out to be well worth our time with almost 100 people standing against transgenicos, as genetically modified products are called here. You can read my article in the Eco section of TCRN tomorrow.

"Perro" protester
Our trip into San Jose was originally set up with Felipe, Marcial and Seidy's oldest son, who is interested in photography and had done some excellent wedding photos recently for his friends, using Layne's high-end camera. Layne has been helping him package the photos into a professional-looking portfolio and a wedding album for the newlyweds. This trip was to have high-quality prints made for the album. After the bus trip into town, we walked a few blocks searching for the photography shop, no easy task since, as you recall, there are no street addresses here. But with a phone call by Felipe (in Spanish, of course), we soon located the store and he and Layne gave the instructions for the print sizes. 
Layne and Felipe order prints
The finished product is terrific and today Felipe is delivering the album to his friends. It's been a very satisfying process for Layne and me to help guide this young man in developing his talent in photography. We hope this is the start of a productive and lucrative vocation for Felipe and we're very proud of his hard work. 


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