The frogs are the size of your thumbnail, the grasshoppers are the size of your hand, and the fallen leaves in the road are so big they look like roadkill. Bienvenidos a Costa Rica! It is one of the most spectacular places on Earth. The people are kind and friendly. The streets are clean as a whistle, and the scenery is world class.
Mountains, beaches, rain forests…. Costa Rica has it all! The vegetation and jungle critters are unreal. It almost looks fake – white faced monkeys jumping limb to limb, iguanas as big as small row boats meandering across the road, and trees are dripping with all kinds of fresh, ripe tropical fruits. It’s an experience second to none. Even grocery shopping is an experience!
I am a firm believer that when in a foreign country, it is imperative to attempt to speak the local language. So I’ve been brushing up on my Spanish. (It’s been a LONG time since my Spanish high school class, so I invested a bit in the Fluenz Spanish Program. It’s actually really good!) Off I went to the grocery store/local market/fish monger/roadside stand to find something fabulously local that I could whip up for dinner.
Well, here are a couple of tips when shopping in a foreign country, having only rudimentary knowledge of the language – know the difference between this and that, especially when what you want (chicken breast) is right in front of something that not only have you never seen before, but looks like something that shouldn’t be displayed in public (some type of animal testicles?). Also, when you see something interesting on a roadside stand labeled mamon, you might want to know how to pronounce it before you go into the grocery store asking for it, since it is quite possible (likely, in fact) that mamon (depending on the pronunciation) also means “a stupid idiot.” That doesn’t exactly go over well….
In the end, I decided to go with what I know – Piña Coladas! It’s made with ingredients I recognize, are easy to find (no mamons necessary), and that I can easily pronounce (in any language! Although, it took a bit for the kind folks at the grocery store to understand that when I asked for “rum” it was the same thing as what they call “ron”). And there’s just something about a cool, creamy, pineapple-y, Piña Colada that confirms, yes, I am on vacation! Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with making one at home and pretending you’re on vacation. Just close your eyes and try to picture the colorful toucans flying overhead as you listen to the howler monkeys roar deep in the jungle. Welcome to paradise! Where is your favorite tropical paradise? Leave a comment below!
P.S. If you really are interested in learning Spanish, I highly recommend the Fluenz program. My sister and I both purchased it and love it! You can just follow this link to get it. Learn Spanish: Fluenz Spanish (Latin America) 1+2+3+4+5 for Mac, PC, iPhone, iPad & Android Phones, Version 3