Alma de Café in the National Theater, downtown San Jose, was chosen by a British publication as one of the best coffee shops in the world. I’ve been there and it is a wonderful “Old World” coffee shop that would be at home anywhere in Europe and has fabulous coffee and pastries! I highly recommend it! Read about it’s new honor on Christopher Howard’s “Live in Costa Rica” Blog.
Above Canario Supermercado is a new little coffee shop overlooking the entrance to Atenas Mercado Central, bus station, and a busy street for people watching. See photo above. Just this one visit today and it is now in my top three coffee shops (called cafeterias here). (1) Crema y Nada, (2) Cafeteria by the church, and now (3) Cafeteria above Canario. (If the last two have names, they are not prominently displayed, but most things here are described by location as I just did.)
One of my retirement joys these days is slowly sipping 2 or 3 mugs of coffee every morning after breakfast, with breakfast or like today, after my cereal breakfast I walk to town and have a pastry and cup of coffee downtown while people watching or finishing today’s Washington Post on the Kindle. This is what retirement is like for me when not traveling! And of course my favorite and most common place to enjoy morning coffee is from my own terrace as seen on this cloudy morning in the photo below.
And for those who think I never have anything negative to say about Costa Rica (and I seldom do) I will admit that one thing here that scares me is the Terciopelo, the Costa Rica name for what Americans call Fer de Lance snake (Bothrops asper). (Click Terciopelo link for English article in Tico Times) It is one of the most deadly snake bites in the world and unfortunately we have them living in my Roca Verde neighborhood. I know of two neighbors who have been bitten, both going outside in early morning barefoot (note that I will never do that). Both stepped on the snake (a sure way to get bitten!) and were rushed to the public clinic here for anti-venom shot and from there in ambulance to the public hospital in Alajuela for further treatment. They are both fine now, but it was a big scare for both with swollen leg and a lot of pain. One guy had an allergic reaction to the anti-venom and got extra allergy treatment for the hives it gave him. See Wikipedia article on the snake.
I like to include breakfast at La Casita del Cafe with a view to the ocean.
And we took the tour of El Toledo Coffee Farm, the only two on the tour! We then ate Sunday dinner with his family and really enjoyed that as much! That is John Rasbury on left from Williamson County, Tennessee. Gabriel is the oldest son of the coffee farmer and does the tours now. My friend.
I also took John to Zoo Ave, City Mall, La Garita plant nurseries, house hunting (his main goal), and lots of restaurants! 🙂 4 days here.
I did not know John from my many years living in Nashville but met him on the Chris Howard Relocation or Living in Costa Rica Tour in 2014. We have kept in touch since. He is not able to retire yet, but plans to come here when he does and is starting to invest in rental property here for his future income. Like Reagan, his favorite place was sitting on my terrace.
This is the main reason I went a week without posting anything on the blog, just too busy! Muy ocupado! And I am very tired! Even took a little nap yesterday afternoon, which is rare for me! And I have my Visa renewal trip to Nicaragua Tuesday-Thursday, a birthday party at my house Sunday week, and CAJA application appointment July 8. So not slowing down much yet. But I will.
And we decided our favorite before he told us which was dark roast, light roast or medium roast
Then we watched the beans roast
Which were earlier sun-dried like this
We learned how organic “natural” farming is better than just organic
The purpose of many different kinds of trees among the coffee plants
And ate a typical Tico lunch at Gabriel’s aunt’s house. A great total experience!
Reagan continues to say that sitting on my terrace is his favorite place. I never show the driveway in photos, he noted; so here it is! Not picturesque! I only use it when I have a rent car, like this week.
Tonight – Sunday night – we are at the Hampton Inn Airport where we will be picked up at 5:30 in the morning for our trip to Tortuguero on the Caribbean Coast. Our big adventure starts with the van trip to the boat dock in the morning, driving over a mountain range and into the coastal rainforest for and hour and half boat trip through the jungle to our Laguna Lodge.
We are suppose to have internet access in the common areas, but if not, no more posts until Thursday.
At the entrance to my favorite Supermercado is this little sidewalk cafe for excellent coffee & pastries (Banana Nut Bread my favorite) and the best deal on ice cream in town! Half the price of POPS Ice Cream Shop. That’s my coffee and carrot cake at the first table with my shopping bags. I walk to here and mostly walk home, unless big load/rain, then a taxi Coopeatenas is the farmers’ cooperative super market & farm store out back
And fun, friendly Ticas behind the counter with Santa on the Cash Register! Helados is ice cream. They have sandwiches too! And Gourmet Coffee! Many of their bakery items are from Crema y Nata, my favorite bakery.
And that cash register sign says in literal English translation:
order, cancel, and remove your order here
Of course you know that “cancel” means “pay” and “remove” is like “pick up”
This same sign is in most “fast food” restaurants, called “cafetería” here.
“I wish I could show you the little village where I was born. It’s so lovely there…I used to think it too small to spend a life in, but now I’m not so sure.” ― Mary Kelly
Yep! That’s me! I was born in Warren, Arkansas, a small farming town like Atenas, Costa Rica and never thought I would ever live there again! Now I do sorta – well, here it’s coffee instead of tomato farms and Alajuela Province is a lot different from Arkansas and Costa Rica is another world from the states. But I do live in a small town again! 🙂
On the walk through my neighborhood I just couldn’t include all the images, so here are two more that a few of our homes have as their vista, the pastoral farm hills around Atenas. And the third is a similar view from my bedroom and office/guest room.
Some have farms, cattle, coffee, or other use while other hills are investments.
Hopefully they will not all be developed as the wildness around us disappears!
Some have roads over them like above, for what reason I know not.
Some of these hills are coffee farms or were in earlier times.
And from my office/guest room before I added fishtail palms for privacy.
And how appropriate that on the day I post these pastoral scenes Sarah Bartlett at McKendree sends this link to a visual version of Ode to Joy by Beethoven.
I believe my photo above is of the Tommy Atkins variety (purple). On the property here (formerly a mango farm) there is at least one other variety or cultivar. It is turning yellow & orange which I think is the Hayden. A lot of the different varieties were developed in Florida, trying to create year around crops.
I have been eating a mango a day recently and keep a bottle of mango pulp in the frig for making one of four smoothie-type fruit drinks I have at least one of every day: mango, guanabana, mora (blackberry), and pina (pineapple). The mangoes that fall from the trees are bruised on one side and I cut that side off before eating the rest of it. I can get better ones in the market that aren’t bruised but were picked ripe or near-ripe. There is nothing better than a tree-ripened mango! I said the same thing when I lived in The Gambia.
And by the way – I signed the contract on the rental house Tuesday. Move a week from Thursday, 23 April. The virtual tour of my new house is still on the Realtor’s site for now. It will be taken down eventually.
And for you STARBUCKS COFFEE LOVERS: Starbucks Costa Rica Coffee Research Farm is supposedly trying to help coffee growers raise disease-resistant coffee plants IF they will sell to Starbucks at ridiculously low prices – American ingenuity or greed? Coffee farmers have to eat too!