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Costa Rica 2013

Finca Work Week 4

COSTA RICA | Friday, 14 June 2013 | Views [460]

Coffee plant

Coffee plant

Monday started with the normal breakfast and dishes routine; however, Donald had left for work before I made it downstairs at 6:50 so I wasn't sure what my job for the day was. As I started to head back up to my room Xinia gave me my task. I was to go back down the mountain and plant more grass. This time Lazaro was already down there. I quickly put on my work clothes, sunscreen, and bug spray and headed down. Tara of course followed, but Lucky was unchained and came with me too. This was a first for Lucky and he was well behaved and quite funny. When I throw the rock for Tara, her ready position is to watch the rock. Lucky's ready position is to bite Tara's back leg. Loco perros!
When I got to the bottom Lazaro had already started digging a bunch of holes so I grabbed a shovel and started helping. Lazaro doesn't speak much English so when we work it's in silence. I never know if he thinks I'm doing a good job or not. At one point though he did ask me how old I was. I told him and asked his age (28). He told me I was young, or young looking?, and strong, using arm muscle gestures. I took this as a good sign he was happy with my work. He also helped me throw the rocks for the dogs and joined in my fun of throwing the rocks down the mountain. Tara would fly over the cliff regardless of the steepness while Lucky would just stop and watch. Lazaro and i just laughed every time.
After we dug the holes we climbed back over to the neighbors and filled 2 sacks of grass. I was able to carry mine almost the full way today and felt good. We did have to go back for a second round about an hour later and I had to drag the second one most of the way. All in all we got the field done in about 3 hours and headed back. 
I was filthy but waited until after lunch to shower and noticed all my dirty clothes were removed from the bathroom- laundry day. Xiani had done a load while I was working and it was ready to be hung on the line to dry. When I garbbed the clothes she asked for my clothes from the morning because she was doing a second load. When I brought them to her I realized for the first time that she scrubs most of my clothes before they go into the washing machine. I am so filthy from planting grass this is required to get all the dirt out, especially my socks. I immediately jumped in and started helping. I was glad I didn't have but one small load last week. Since it took my clothes 5 days to dry the first time, I had worn the same clothes, to paint in, every day during week two. Last week the sun shone on laundry day and my clothes only took 1 day to dry. 
After dealing with the laundry I changed my sheets and cleaned my room and then decided to just chill for the afternoon listening to the thunder and rain. Although it rains here almost daily it is usually not accompanied by the thunder and lighting of Monday's storm. Unfortunately the wind whipped up and it wasn't just chilly but downright cold. I shut my windows and got under the two blankets on my bed and still couldn't get warm. Finally I just got up and started my evening dinner chores.
Tuesday started out early because I got to go back to the escuela with Donald where we started the compost project 3 weeks ago. It took awhile to get to the school. It's a 2.5 hour drive but we had to stop and wait for Donald's coworkers that were going to ride with us the last hour of the trip. The coworkers, Mario y Wilfred, whom I met on the first trip, are consistently slow so I nicknamed them the Los Hermanos Linto - The slow brothers. Donald thought it was hilarious and I think the name will stick. Once they showed up and Donald finished a second breakfast we were off again. Donald stopped many times to show me many different sites or to pick some fresh mangos to eat. We also drove past the school to look for a farm that had called Mario for some assistance. He just needed to see the place but it was cool driving through the mountains seeing some other areas. We were near the La Amistad National Park high in the mountains, that borders Panama. There were a lot of cafe farms because apparently the higher altitudes produce better coffee. We did finally make it to the school in time to eat lunch. Classes were still in session and my amigo Kathy, the English teacher, was teaching a 2nd grade class. She let me come into the classroom and told the students that I was from the US. They were so cute and excited I was there. As Kathy and i were talking one of the ninos said, in Spanish, that they didn't understand anything I was saying. They did let me take a picture of them and were even more excited about that.
After that Donald gave another presentation to the group. This time the group was even bigger than the initial 40 people that came out 3 weeks ago. Kathy wasn't in the room initially to translate for me so I found some school books to work on my Spanish. I was pleasantly surprised reading a science book that i knew the correct terms for the female and male anatomy. I still can't remember the basics but I could definitely figure those out! After Donald's talk, and another break for coffee and a snack, everyone headed out to the greenhouse. The original pile was uncovered, with a little snake greeting us, and everyone felt how hot and different the dirt was. They then shoveled the original pile into two volcano shape piles, added lots of water and recovered. The piles will cool down and will be ready to be bagged for fertilizer in about 4-5 days. Everyone was really happy about the results and the day.
We rushed back to the farm that afternoon because Costa Rica was playing Mexico in the World Cup quarter finals at 6pm. After dinner I stayed downstairs and watched a hour or so of the game before I couldn't take the excitment anymore and went upstairs. I did manage, accidentally, to time my bathroom break to see the end of the 0-0 game. 
Wednesday I got my marching orders at breakfast. I was to help Lazaro fix the chicken fence to help keep the chickens and bunnies From escaping. This was going to be an easy day and I was excited. I put my rubber boots on and found that Tara had left me a rock in my shoes. I think she missed me yesterday. At least my boots were a better spot for the rock than when she dropped one in my paint can! 
I headed out to work with Lazaro and we started chopping down some trees to fix the fence. All and all the work was rather easy; however, within a few minutes a bee flew down my boot and stung me. Then when we were heading back to the chicken coop I somehow slightly shocked myself on the live fence even though I was opening it with the rubber handle. Then as Lazaro was nailing the second rusty nail into the post I accidentally put my thumb right where the nail was coming through. I was at least relieved that I had gone to the travel clinic prior to my trip and confirmed my tetanus shot was up to date. Every dollar spent at the clinic was worth that knowledge. After this we disturbed a beehive but fortunately weren't stung and I almost sat on a big nasty spider but Lazaro yelled arachno-something which I was able to translate without thought. I was glad when the fence was done and it was time for lunch.
The afternoon was spent relaxing, reading, and doing some first aid to my body. Besides bandaging my nail wound I decided to cover some of my bug bites. I was only getting a couple new bites a day but all my scratching was not allowing the old bites to heal. I had bought a new first aid kit for the trip and put it to good use. Of course I looked funny covered in bandaids. Apparently Donald had never noticed all the bites on my legs before but he was definitely concerned that evening when I came down and saw a bandaids on my arm where a bite had made my arm swell.   
Donald, Xiani, and I sat on the patio and chatted for a bit drinking some beer and fried pork skins that Donald brought home. He then asked if I liked chips. Sure. Then he asked how we cook cow chips. Upon further inquiry I learned Donald was talking about tripe. Now this was not something I've had before nor was it something I really wanted but I was going to stay open minded. I ate liver and onions in Africa and didn't die. And recently I had beef tongue at a restaurant in Austin and liked it. Body parts are a big deal in Austin restaurants these days, so much so that if I try to take my Mom out to eat she tells me she doesn't want any of that 'weird pig food!' 
Donald tasked me with cutting up a huge bag of tripe. I'm not sure this was the best idea. It was tough and the knives had to be sharpened just to cut it. And getting to see and feel all the different textures was not doing anything for my appetite. After two large bowls were cut up, Xiani put the tripe in a pressure cooker for almost 2 hours. Despite the long cooking time it did not do much to the texture. It was rubber and tough to bite. I tied to eat it but the texture was more than I could handle. Donald told me to 'eat fast' meaning to just swallow but the bites but they were to big for that. I ate around the tripe and pushed the food around a bit for a polite show but was more than happy to jump up and do the dishes and ditch the rest. 
Shortly after dinner, around 8 pm the power went out so I just headed to my room.  About 30 minutes later the house started shaking and I immediately knew it was an earthquake, although not as strong as the previous one. I ran downstairs and chatted, in the dark, with Donald and Xiani. Their 4 year old grandson called excited because it was the first one he had felt. After the excitement wore down I went back upstairs and fell asleep quickly which I was grateful for because I woke in the middle of the night itching up a storm. I don't know when I got bit but I had 5 bites on my elbow, and several more on my legs, fingers, and toes. It was the most miserable I'd been.
Thursday's work activities were to plant 30 coffee plants Donald had brought home. This was a fun task that Lazaro and I set off to do. It was easy work that didn't take long. What I didn't realize was that since we finished so quickly we were going to plant more pasto (grass). Had I realized that at first I would have moved much slower on the coffee plants!  We headed down to the meadow and started digging holes. I could have sworn we had finished the meadow but after 300 or so more holes we headed back up the sugar cane field to dig up the grass. This time Lazaro helped me put the grass sacks on my back/ shoulders so I was able to carry it all the way back.  I took a break and mentally prepared myself for more planting when Lazaro gave me the good news- we were done for the day! It was almost noon but I'd lost track of time. We went back and I had lunch but still had energy. Must have been that mental work I did earlier. I decided to head back to the worm barn. When we had gathered fertilizer for the coffee plants I had noticed a new batch of dirt was ready to be sorted. With the dogs and a few rocks at my feet and my iPod cranked I set to work. I came in when it was time to feed the animals. Mateo was there and we got him saddled up on Chickading again. He rode for about the about of time it took to feed the chickens, cows, and pig. After that he just wanted to play with me so we played with his tractors, and helicopter, and had lots of fun. His Mom came to get him right as we were ready to sit down for dinner- soup. Donald only mentioned that the soup had yucca but I should have been on the lookout. After four weeks there I know we eat leftovers a lot and Xiani had made a scrumptious lunch of enyucados. I took one bite of my soup and realized that the tripe was in it. The bites were smaller and softer than the previous evening but still had a texture I do not care for. I was able to swallow the very small bites but the bigger ones that I could see got pushed aside. I was sure hoping that this was going to be the last of the tripe. That evening I was able to watch game 4 of the Spurs/ Heat finals since there wasn't a football game on at the same time. It was during the first few minutes of sitting there that I realized I was getting eaten. The bugs weren't in my room but down here. I grabbed a blanket off my bed and covered my body to protect it while I sadly watched the Spurs lose. That was a bunch of bug bites for nothing!
Friday I got up excited because I was finally going to get to milk the cow. Each week I had told Donald this was something I really wanted to do but the chance hadn't happened yet. Lazaro milks the cow in the mornings usually before I'm even awake. Unfortunately Friday was no exception. With a little bit of disappointment I headed back down the mountain to plant the grass we had dug up yesterday. Xiani came down and helped us and Lazaro went and dug up 4 more sacos without me. With those two things I should have been in great shape; however, I was really tired doing the work. Whether it was the cow milking disappointed, thoughts of my last work on the farm, or the hot 4.5 hours planting the grass I'm not sure but was glad when Xiani called it a day.  One thing about having limited Spanish is I don't know how and can't complain! After a quick lunch I tried to nap but couldn't manage that either so I headed out back and sorted worms for a couple hours thinking about the last four weeks and the next adventures I was going to have next week. The evening I relaxed and had a couple beers on the patio before dinner. Sleep that night hit me hard and fast and I was pleased. After all, I needed to beat Lazaro in the am before he milked the cow!

Tags: costa rica, kda

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