Sunday, April 29, 2007

Drinking The First Organic Coffee From Our Farm

It still seems way outside probability that I would ever own an organic coffee farm in Costa Rica. From my roots in Brooklyn and Ithaca NY, this has been a long journey in many ways.

This year, we have over 50 lbs. of coffee to enjoy and share with friends and family. We've been told a few hundred pounds of coffee is just a few harvests away.We turned the farm organic this year, lessening our yield while we learned about the plants and trees on our hillside acre. The banana, plantano, limon, orange, mango and other trees are trimmed and next year we should have a larger coffee yield and make better use of the fruit which shades the coffee.

The good news...the quality of our coffee is excellent. We brought our picked coffee to my friend Martin Rodriquez who is both an organic coffee farmer and also has a small roasting operation. Whereas with the San Ramon Coop, which mixes coffee beans from many local farms, Martin could keep all our beans separate and it is always fun hanging with Martin. Martin roasted it a little darker than normal as we discussed and the flavor is excellent with hints of chocolate and a rich full body.

Brewing our first crop of coffee from our farm has been a daily treat.

Our farm has the highest altitude coffee in El Empalme. It is a classic pueblo, with a school, church and very simple way of life. Our neighbors rarely seem stressed and have taught me a lot in terms of prorities and what's important.

While we enjoy our coffee, our people are working at the farm to make it an even better place in the future.

Life's a trip. You just gotta make room for what life might bring your way.... even the improbable possibilities.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Riteve : Costa Rica Car Inspection

Costa Rica has a national system of annual car inspection called Riteve. Having a current Riteve sticker allows you to drive confidently and legally. It is a common experience which makes me feel like I really live here. Both of our 2 experiences at Riteve were weird and notable.

While many people think moving to Costa Rica is about living in a country with no army, ecotourism, seeing lava at Volcano Arenal, surfing at Malpais/Santa Teresa or doing the canopy tour at Monteverde ..... getting your car inspected is more indicative of day to day Costa Rica life.

The process starts out impressively smooth and logical as you make your Riteve appointment on the internet choosing place, date and time. We did our first inspection in Alajuela. They said our emissions didn't pass the test, but that was the least of our issues. By the time we had worked our way through the inspectors' paces, one of the technicians destroyed our brakes. We had to drive home using the handbrake to stop. Last week, we decided to go to the Puntarenas Riteve for our second inspection. This time an inspector destroyed a line that held the car's power steering fluids. We drove home with the steering wheel barely working. On a better note, a technician allowed us to re-do one of the tests 5 times until we finally passed.

In a different culture I might have complained or written a letter to right the wrong. That seemed like a waste of time here.

Many people pay someone to take their car for inspection. I'm beginning to see the wisdom of not going through this process.

Once again patience and a sense of humor are a virtue in navigating aspects of Tico life.

Cerveza, por favor...Gracias!!!