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September 4, 2014

Busy, busy week, but I’m starting to get my bearings around here. Everything you could possibly need is walking distance from the house. The different neighborhoods are like individual towns: they all have their own centro (downtown), with a church and a park in the center. On Monday Mary and I walked to Moravia, maybe 1 1/2  miles from the house, and stopped by the Banco Nacional.  The lines were insane; apparently the first day of the month is the busiest.  Mary had some business to take care of so it took an hour and half, but I did get some colones from the cajero automatica, or ATM:

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 So much prettier than our money.  The banks that I’ve seen have much stronger security too.  To enter, you have to walk one by one into these security scanners, wait for the door to close, then the door on the other side will open to let you out.  Anything bigger than a purse has to be left in lockers on the outside:

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After the bank we walked around downtown Moravia, which is so quaint.  We stopped at the butcher shop and got some chicharrones, which are these little crispy fried pork bites-delicious!  They’re typically served on salad, which Mary made for dinner with awesome homemade pico de gallo on shredded cabbage with boiled yuca.

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Most salads seem to be made with cabbage instead of lettuce.  I actually found a recipe that looks exactly the same; I’m trying to keep track of things so I can cook them later: <http://lostandfoundfamily.com/making-costa-rican-chicharrones&gt; .

Tuesday we walked into Guadalupe, probably about a mile and a half in the opposite direction.  Stopped by the shoe repair shop, the post office-tiny-and a few other little shops.  The mornings are beautiful, sunny and warm but not too hot.  Perfect to walk around.  Then I usually stay in and do schoolwork in the afternoons.  So far the stuff we’re covering has been mostly review, but I’ve forgotten most of what I knew about Adobe Illustrator and they’ve made a lot of changes to their software in the last few years so it’s been good to practice.

This morning Carlos and I walked around Moravia some more.  A different direction this time; we saw the Justice Department a few blocks away, and some residential blocks, with a great view of the mountains.  I love how every single house is different, and beautiful:

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 The sidewalks are another matter however.  It’s as if they poured all the sidewalks in the city 50 years ago and then forgot about them.  No sign of maintenance, they’re cracked and completely dissolve into muddy gravel in some places, even in the really nice neighborhoods.  The tree roots grow underneath and tilt them so one side is always higher than the other. We saw everything from flowers to tomatoes to watermelon plants growing out of the cracks. Walking around the block is a constant balancing act trying not to twist an ankle or fall into an open pit (apparently people steal the grates over them to sell as scrap metal).

When we got home Mary showed me how to make picadillo de papas:

Fry about 1/2 lb of ground chorizo sausage, add about 1 lb of finely chopped potatoes, 1/2 onion, a red chile pepper, garlic, curry, cumin, and some other spice I haven’t seen before and apparently is only sold in Costa Rica.  Add a couple cups of water and let it boil down till everything’s soft.  Then roll everything up in corn tortillas.  Es muy rico!

This afternoon I went with Mary to her English class at her church in Moravia.  It’s a small group of 8  or so and they’re a lot of fun.  The teacher wanted me to read some of the exercises out loud so they could hear my accent and they asked me all kinds of questions and told me all the places I need to see in Costa Rica.

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