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My Great American Road Trip – Delaware

Oh, Delaware, you’re so boring. Maybe Delaware isn’t boring, but you would not know it from the food.

I’m pretty sure I’ve been to Delaware, but I don’t remember much. There was this one bike trip from DC to NY or NY to DC and I think we went through Delaware. I kind of remember the Delaware Water Gap being really beautiful. Cutie-pie Survivor winner Ethan Zahn was with us on that trip. He was fun. I remember way more about him, then about what we ate.

I think Delaware is meant to be really pretty and mid-Atlantic seaside-y, which is definitely up my alley.  Google tells me that the most iconic food might be Thrasher’s French Fries on Rehoboth Beach, which is for sure stop one when I can finally go to Delaware, but not something I can make at home. Other options were salt-water taffy (yum, but nope), blue crab (saving crab for Maryland), and muskrat – MUSKRAT (NO!). And then there was something called Slippery Dumplings. Done.

Slippery dumplings are most often served with a chicken and it is apparently something that your grandma made for you if you grew up in Delaware.

So, the first thing you do is make a chicken broth, with a stewing chicken, onion, carrots, and celery. Among the advice I’ve gotten from New Englanders now in Florida was this gem from my friend and co-worker Cassidy from Connecticut – don’t make your own chicken, get it from Publix Market – so good. And she is wise.  Side note, I’ve not yet had one, but apparently a Pub Sub is also a rite of passage in the path to becoming a Floridian. I’ll be getting one of those soon.

Anyway, instead of making my own broth, I used a little boxed chicken broth, to which I added onion, carrot, and celery and set aside to simmer, while my Publix chicken was waiting for it’s call time.  For the dumplings you mix 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, a little bit of salt and…..Crisco (3 tablespoons). I remember having Crisco in the house as a kid, but I was a little nervous about buying it. On my nightly call with my friend Lynn she promised me Crisco is what makes pie crust flaky and it would be fine, so into the dough it went. Then you add as much of the broth as you need to make the dough into a dough. Before the broth, it’s just sandy. Roll it out thin and cut into to 2 inch squares. In cooking, as in life, consistency is important. In my cooking, as in my life, I’m crap at consistency.

Unknown-1Bring the broth to a boil and drop the dumplings in one at a time. Don’t over crowd the pot (I did.)

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Then you leave them there to simmer until the dumplings are tender and cooked through.  The directions said about 15 minutes, but it was a lot longer for me, possibly because of how many dumplings I tried to cook at once.

When they’re cooked, you serve with a little broth, now all thickened up because of the flour from the dumplings, and a side of chicken. I added parsley, because I have a parsley plant now, so it’s going on everything.

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It was the most comforting, delicious meal. And I ate it for dinner, then lunch, then dinner again. It was like a hug from your nana. Your nana, not mine. Sherry reminds me of a hug from my nana.

I think being in Delaware is like being a kid on vacation. You go to the beach for french fries and saltwater taffy and home for chicken soup. It’s pretty perfect.

 

 

 

 

 

My Great American Road Trip – Connecticut

Connecticut is the land mass that you have to get through when driving from New York City to Boston. I have done that drive many, many times and there are some highlights, like beautiful strip of 95 that runs along the water and of course Rein’s, but usually I just try to power through to Rhode Island and the welcoming arms of Northern New England.

Sometimes, though I stop in the lovely seaside town of Old Saybrook, and the even more welcoming arms of my beloved step-mother, where we always have at least one meal at a shack along the Long Island Sound and indulge in lobster rolls and french fries. To me that is what you eat in Connecticut. Google acknowledges that as well, but there were a few other options as well.

Interestingly, the Nutmeg State offers no great nutmeggy options. This is possibly because the nickname doesn’t come from the actual nutmeg in the state, so the legend goes, but because Connecticut traders carved wood to look like nutmeg pods and sold them to unsuspecting southern visitors! Might not be true, but it makes me so fond of early Connecticutians!

One of the other foods that come up as iconically Connecticut is PEZ. PEZ! The weird sugar tablet candy that is only interesting because of the whimsical dispensers. Apparently, there is a PEZ Museum in Orange, CT, which I will absolutely be visiting the next time I’m able to be in the state. I will also appreciate that long drive so much more, as well!

But for something that is only in Connecticut, there is nothing like a white clam pizza. Pizza in New Haven is a thing. It’s thin crust and coal fired and no where is it more a thing than at Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria. And the most famous thing at Frank Pepe’s is the white clam pizza. So, though I was skeptical, white clam pizza it would be.

I did many things wrong. First I decided not to make my own pizza dough, and when I pulled out the frozen dough, I realized I’d bought gluten free dough by accident. (note to companies everywhere – make sure that it’s easy to tell the differences in packaging. Different colors maybe. Something. Thank you.).

The first step in making a clam pie is to open up the clams. A scary proposition, but with the help of a xanax and a YouTube video, I grabbed a towel and a dull knife and give it my best. Of the dozen clams I opened, at least 10 were usable.

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Clams are chopped and mixed with dried oregano, garlic, and olive oil. The recipe I used said that once you have your crust spread thin, you layer it with mozzarella (this is optional, I did it). Then spread the clam mix over it, and then a layer of parmesan.

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The whole thing goes into an oven at 500 degrees until it is crispy and bubbly, like a pizza. A generous layer of parsley on top, and it was ready to eat.

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So….I learned after the fact that Frank Pepe’s discourages the use of mozz, because it makes the pizza too rich. It was. The pizza was so garlicy and briny and delicious, but it was tough to eat more than a piece or two. Also the gluten free crust didn’t get nearly crispy enough.

I liked it, I won’t make it again, but I may very well order it when I’m next in New Haven.

I’m taking a break for a day or two now, to eat salad and leftovers. Heading to Delaware soon.

My Great American Road Trip – Colorado

I made a mother-fucking rack of lamb! Sorry for the salty language, but in my whole life I never thought that is something I’d do. Or even think about doing! Or, that I would even be capable of it if I wanted to do it. But I did it and it was good!

Rocky Mountain Oysters come up a lot when you’re googling what to eat that is iconically Colorado. And I have a friend with the theory that you could batter and deep fry a shoe and it would be delicious. Rocky mountain oysters are cowboy fare, and who doesn’t like a cowboy, and you can even get them at the ball game, but there are limits to what I’ll do for this blog and eating a testicle is way beyond where I’ve drawn the line.

So, the might Colorado lamb called my name. I have been putting off even thinking about what would be involved until the morning came and I had to deal with it. I woke to the news that we’d had the all-time highest single day infection rate in the country, on the very day that I let strangers touch me for the first time in months (at the hair salon, don’t get alarmed).  After a long morning walk, socially distant from my friend Jack, to shake off the sense of impending doom, I ventured to the Fresh Market for a couple lamb chops. Turns out you have to buy the whole rack. I debated scrapping the lamb idea and making a Denver omelet, but a couple deep breaths later, I decided that a deep dive into the cooking pool would be my rebellion against the coming dystopia. I left with my rack, (and my rack of lamb).

I looked at it on the counter through the morning and early afternoon before deciding I had to get out again. I checked the weather – the sunny skies on my app did not mirror the gray clouds in the sky, but, trusting technology, I headed off for a quick kayak.  The kayak guy would not let me on the water because of impending weather. Summing my best “karen” I pulled out my phone to argue with him, and realized I’d been looking at the weather in theBerkshires,  as has been my coping mechanism for not actually being there.

Once home, I decided to tackle the inevitable meal prep, when I remembered a crucial fact. You can’t have lamb without mint jelly! Not wanting to go out again, and since I recently invested in a mint plant, I decided to make my own. Well, you can’t. Mint jelly requires gelatin for one thing, and I don’t have that. Also – it needs like a day in the fridge before you eat it. But I did find a recipe for a simple mint sauce. A whole bunch of mint leaves in a bowl, some sugar and cider vinegar in equal amounts, and a little s&p to taste. Pour some boiling water over that and let it steep.

With that sorted it was time to face the meat. I threw some garlic, so so much garlic, lemon zest, rosemary, and thyme in the blender with some olive oil and then rubbed the whole rack down with that. Then let it sit for a couple hours.

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It goes in to a 450 degree oven for about 25 minutes or until it’s about 125 degrees with a meat thermometer. I have one of those. Like the vast majority of my cooking supplies it was my mother’s, and there’s a fairly large chance that it was her mother’s, but it works well enough to keep me from buying a new one (this is actually the first time I’ve ever used it but it worked.

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This is what my lamb looked like!

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Ok – it didn’t look like that at all. It looked like this.

I’m not a very good photographer, but that’s what you call PERFECTLY COOKED.

The lamb was so tender and flavorful that it made up for my deep disappointment at not having emerald colored mint jelly.

I had a lamb and black bean chimichanga for lunch the next day!

My Great American Road Trip – Arizona, Arkansas, and California

To make a busy Saturday busier, I decided to hit three states today. Three states that are very different from each other – Arizona, Arkansas, and California. I ended up eating from each of them in reverse order.

I was starving when I got home from my long morning walk (I have been trying to get my 10k steps in every day of quarantine and it’s a billion times more important as I cook and eat up a storm). So California here I come! Holy cow, California has a lot to choose from – the Cobb Salad was invented in Hollywood, and there is a lot of super fab Mexican food (I LOVE a fish taco), not to mention all the San Francisco cuisine and the iconic In n Out burger. A lot of Cali cooking is immigrant inspired, which is inspiring to me, but since I was going to tackle three states today, I needs to start slowly so I went with California hipster – avocado toast! I use a very thick slice of sourdough bread (hey there, SF). Sticking true to the Cali ethics, I kept it local, and got my bread from Zak the Baker in Miami’s most hipster hood, Wynwood. I fired up my cast iron grill pan for the third day in a row and threw the bread on there til it had gorgeous dark grill lines on each side, then I scrubbed it with clove of garlic. The spread is mushed up avocado and anything else you want to mix it with. I added some green onion, red onion, cumin, red pepper, and a generous shake of s&p. Spread the whole thing on there and then added chopped up roma tomatoes and cilantro on top. It tasted like breakfast in Brooklyn. I mean California.

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It was especially great to eat it during my weekly Saturday zoom breakfast with friends in NY, MA, PA, and DC. (All places I haven’t gotten to on this journey yet). And the Great Catsby liked it as well.

This was the day for my long awaited hair color and cut. So, so excited and a little bit scared. But before I head out, it’s time for a snack! And that snack is coming from Arkansas.

I’ve been to Arkansas! I was in Fort Smith with the Boston Pops. There was a dog show happening in the hotels where we were staying so you had to step over poo. I remember it rained a lot and I went to the gallows there, where “Hanging” Judge James Parker sentenced many many men to die, the vast majority of whom were Black or Native American.  It was awful.

But, other than that, I had a good time in Ft. Smith otherwise and it is where I met my now dear friend, David, and where he blew my mind by singing me the states in alpha order! It is my theme song for this project! I ate a lot of Mexican food (another musician taught me about tequila!), and have no memory of any of it really (except the tequila).

A google search of the food of Arkansas offers up some interesting options including cheese dip, sugared rice, chocolate gravy, and possum pie (no possums are hurt in the making of that.)  All good choices, but I decided to go for the classic fried pickles. If you know me, you know about my love for things pickled. Especially cucumbers. I love pickles.

Fried dill pickles were “invented” by Burrell “Fatman” Austin in the mid-sixties at the Duchess Drive In. His recipe is a secret and only made once a year these days at the Annual Pickle Fest in Atkins, the “pickle capital of Arkansas.” Sadly this year’s festival has been postponed because of Covid, so I will fill the void. Also – I know where I want to be next May!

The secret ingredient to Arkansas fried pickles seems to be Cavendar’s Greek Seasoning, an Arkansas based, family own spice mix. The ingredient list includes dill, nutmeg, pepper, and MSG, so there’s that. But I’m in for a penny and in for a pound – bring on the MSG. They say you should use pickle chips, but I had thin slices spears already, so that was is. Heat up the oil, there’s a right temperature, but since I didn’t have a thermometer, it doesn’t matter what it was. In one bowl is flour seasoned with s&p and a whole lot of Cavender’s. In another is whisked egg and milk mixture. Pickles go in the flour, egg, flour and to their destiny in the hot oil they go. I always chicken out when frying things and pull them out too early, but I stayed strong and left them in for about 3 minutes each and pulled them out when they turned golden. A little blotting and on the plate they go. Recipe said you could dip them in ranch dressing, which I didn’t have. But you know what I did have? Alabama white barbecue sauce! SO GOOD!

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Also – I got a hair cut! It was very exciting and, insanely, the first time I’ve been touched by another human being since March 12.

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After a little afternoon walkabout to show off my new hair to basically no one, it was time for a trip to Arizona for dinner! I’ve only been to Arizona once, when I was about 12. We rode donkey’s into the Grand Canyon and horses into the desert while we stayed at a Dude Ranch. This was the 1970s at it’s best. Not the Arizona of Red Rock and spiritual retreats.  My choice for Arizona was easy. Every food round up list went straight for chimichangas, the fried burrito that was created by accident when a burrito landed in the fryer (or so the legend goes).

The most important thing for a chimichanga is a flour tortilla. From there, just stick in whatever you would stuff in your burrito. For me it was re-fried pinto beans mixed up with chopped onions and peppers, shredded cheese, salsa, garlic, red pepper, and cilantro. Don’t over stuff! You roll up like a burrito and put it in a hot skillet with just a bit of oil seam side down (or deep fry them, but…no). After 30 seconds or so, turn it, and then hit all sides and it’s ready to eat. I had some left over avocado mix from the morning, which when dolloped on a plate looks a lot like quac. That, with some salsa and sour cream made for a spread. It was so crunchy on the outside and rich and creamy on the inside. YUM!

This morning, before heading out for a morning walk, I made a breakfast chimichanga with some of the black bean mix, a scrambled egg, and a bit of leftover Alaskan salmon. Unknown.jpeg

So easy, so good. And pretty healthy,-ish too.

My Great American Road Trip – Alaska

In 2016 I convinced my friend Siobhan to join me for a 10 day trip to Alaska. She extended and jumped on a cruise for even more adventure, but the time I had there was breathtaking. Sometimes we would say to each other, I’ve seen enough natural beauty today, wanna go to a bar? But then even the bar would be rugged and beautiful. I loved Alaska.

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(quick side note – I bought an amazing pair of winter boots in Alaska and they’ve vanished into thin air. If I left them at your house, please let me know. I’d love them back.). 

We ate a lot in Alaska, but it was ok, we also did a lot of hiking and other outdoorsy stuff. This is me getting ready to head out to a glacier on a kayak. (note my Moxie cap). 

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They are not shy when it comes to eating, though. The Light Dinners menu fromMike’s Palace in Valdez was not full of salad. The burgers were great. 

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Anyway, it wasn’t that hard to figure out what to make when celebrating Alaska. There are a few things that are must dos. Have something made out of reindeer meat.  We took a reindeer meat pie as a train snack one day. It was fine. King Crab legs (we did this this toward the end. Holy hell are they expensive, but they’re delicious. And of course, the mighty salmon.

These lovely pink fish go the wrong way up the river, are often scooped up by bears, and are so plentiful in the great north, that most families just go take what they need from the river to stock up for the winter. One boat captain told me he hated that the school lunches were so often salmon! (he’d change his mind after a few weeks of salisbury steak and taco tuesdays, I’m sure.)

I’ve never cooked salmon before, or any other fish for that matter, but I’m told it’s not hard. It’s not. I got a couple gorgeous filets with the bones already dealt with. I heated up my cast iron grill pan and laid them down skin side down.  Looking around for a glaze I settled on a little butter and brown sugar, heated up with some s&p (that’s salt and pepper for you not cooking insiders), a big squeeze of lemon, and some red pepper flakes. After about 5 minutes, when it was time to flip the fish, I did my little slather, turn that I’d perfected in Alabama. A few minutes on each side, and, so the internet tells me, when you can flake the fish with a knife, it’s ready. Topped it off with a little cilantro cause I had some (sorry Kristen), and it was DELICIOUS. And so easy. 

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Berries are everywhere in Alaska, so for dessert I had some berries with cream and tarragon. I don’t know why tarragon, but when I was in the store, it seemed right. A little googling told me it’s mostly in French food, but there is Russian taragon and since you can see Russia from Alaska, I figured it would work. It did, it was so yummy. 

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I can’t wait to go back to Alaska. Also – I loved looking at these photos and remembering such a great trip with my dear friend! 

 

My Great America Road Trip – First Stop Alabama!

I started this blog because of my wanderlust. I’m not good at staying in one place. I even move homes from one state to another pretty frequently. I’m very, very good on the road – moving from place to place with my pack on my back. Finding a new hole in the wall, or the occasional luxury splurge to rest my head in between long days discovering new parts of the world. The second best thing about travel, meeting new people is first, is the food. You never really know a place until you taste it. And I have – I’ve eaten from carts in Jaipur, on the sides of mountain in Nepal and Peru and Chile, with my face shielded from sand in the Sahara, and at the top of Cinderella’s Castle in Orlando. And I’ve loved (nearly) every bite. I’ve especially loved that someone else has cooked it for me.

But now we find ourselves under house arrest. Not only can I not don my pack and fly off to some far flung locale, I can’t spend every night drinking wine and laughing with friends in dark, crowded restaurants, which is my preferred activity when stuck at home.

So, in March, basically for the first time in my life, I took inventory of my pantry and set out to feed myself. The pasta was ok. As days became weeks and months, I progressively got more adventurous, and more skilled at creating my daily repast. African peanut stew, remains my favorite, but I visited Morocco, Cambodia, France, and more as I experimented. My Fourth of July spread with bbq chicken, focaccia, and a giant flag cake, was delicious, but kind of sapped my interest in feeding myself. A couple days of pasta later, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself and in need of inspiration.

I did what I always do when I need a lift, I started googling the places I could go when this bloody thing is over. And I was looking at all the things I could do and eat!

I’ve always wanted to take the great American road trip. Stopping off to see the sights, eating bizarre regional cuisine (I’m looking at you Cincinnati and your spaghetti with chili atrocity)  and learning what makes each state its own. SO – I’m going on that trip. At least, I’m going to eat the food. And I’m doing it the way I always wanted to do the drive – alphabetically!

First stop – Alabama!

Here’s what I know about Alabama. Tuskegee, Selma, Rosa Parks. Also my friend, the great conductor Ray Daniels is from Alabama. so that’s good. And so is Channing Tatum, Beyond that I don’t know much.

When you google food in Alabama, the whole first page of results is about white barbecue sauce, which, apparently, was invented by Big Bob Gibson in 1925. I’m not sure why, but I’m assuming that it was because he had a lot of extra mayo and needed something to make with it. Now, it is the most beloved food in North Alabama and maybe every where else. Fun fact about Big Bob, when he opened his barbecue stand, the sign had a dancing pig, chopping up pork for guests. More recent signs have been less cannibalistic.

White barbecue sauce has a lot of recipes out there but its basically 2:1 mayo and apple cider vinegar, then spices as you choose. I didn’t have much mayo, so I used some plain yogurt in there too. And then I added horseradish, onion and garlic powder, a shit ton of black pepper, some red pepper, and salt. My eyes watered from the vinegar as I whisked it, and a quick taste induced the sour lip and eye purse, but I carried on.

I don’t have a grill and I only had skinless chicken thighs, so my crispy grilled chicken fell a little short despite my gorgeous cast iron grill pan. When it is browned on all sides, I slathered it with sauces and let it cook through – turning and slathering as I went.

I plated it with some chopped scallions, my favorite garnish and went in for a bite.

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Holy cow was it good. It was tangy and creamy and spicy goodness. It was a much more nuanced flavor and didn’t remotely resemble some chicken with mayonnaise on it, which was my great fear.

I have a ton of the sauce left, and I am scheming up what to put it on next – potato wedges are heading up the list.

When this is all over – I’m heading your way Big Bob’s!

 

Cruising….

Costa Rica is big on conservation. Like really big. They have made it their mission to keep carbon footprints low. We are instructed not to flush any paper, the straws are all bio degradable, and if you lose your plastic hotel room key, you will pay a stiff fine.

Tortuguara National Park on the Caribbean coast lives and breaths this philosophy.  Accessible only by boat (or small planes) it plays host to eleven different habitats and a host of biodiversity. In the summer months, turtles come to lay and hatch their eggs and the area is over run with tourists who want to watch that happen. Like me, but we’re here in the wrong month.

Our beautiful lodge welcomed us with fruit drinks and four poster beds. After lunch we headed into the tiny town of Tortuguara to see the ocean (the town is flanked by the sea on one side and the river on the other. We were staying across the river), and walk the distance. My pale friends convinced me that I should buy a hat for the open air boat trip the following day and I got a wonderful floppy thing emblazoned with a lizard. I never wore it, but I love it.

In the morning and afternoon the next day, we were treated to long boat journeys along the canals to spot the various wildlife. Our hotel had kayaks with which we could explore the canals as well, but there’s no way we could navigate the winding waterways and find our way back.

We saw so many birds. Just look at a guide to Costa Rican birds and I probably saw 80% of them. Also caiman, sloths, howler and spider monkeys, and a sassy turtle. I’m told that manatees live in the river, but sadly none showed themselves. Yes yes, I know they don’t breach like whales, but it would have been fun to see one. (I’ve wanted to ever since the time I thought I would be swimming with them in the Maldives and it turned out to be manta rays pronounced with a British accent instead. Also – I almost died in a storm at sea that day with the same travelers I’m with now, so there’s that.)

Jaguars and an erupting volcano are on my list of things to see while I’m here that my companions are uninterested in as well. One wild creature we did see was the handsome owner of our hotel, who turned up on Jane’s Tinder account, though, alas, we could not convince her to swipe right.

The next day, yesterday, we jumped the boat for the last time to head upriver and to our next location. Debarking the boat, we were greeted by a loud “Welcome champagne party” and we reunited with our guide  Jorge.

The drive to Arenal and the rainforest included a grocery store stop where we loaded up with wine and tortilla chips just in case our next meal doesn’t arrive (it always arrives). Jorge treated us to the sweet of his childhood, an extremely boozey and delicious chocolate, and with that we arrived at our hotel at the foot of what I’m told is a volcano, but can’t tell, because it is safely hidden behind a wall of fog.

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We rose early to get our transport to Tortuguera and the real start of our trip.

Jonathan, our guide on the bus, chatted too enthusiastically for 6:30am pre-coffee (for us, I think he had several). He pointed out the sights along the first leg of our journey – an active volcano, white gas shooting out of the top, the far away cloud forest into which we would ascend, and the vast fields of fruit. Dole, Chiquita, and other international brands growing their wares here. Banana farming has a complicated cycle which involves a several year growth pattern and a makeshift railway to ensure that the bunches of deliciousness don’t get crushed in transport.

Jonathan and our driver began chatting rapidly in spanish as the bus pulled over and then reversed for several yards. Jonathan opened the door and announced “are you ready to see your first sloth.” Um…YES!

There it was high up in a tree scratching itself far more vigorously than one would expect of a sloth. It was the three toed variety, but he was too high up for us to see his toes. Back in the van, Jonathan explained that the other variety of sloth was the two toed kind. With that the van screeched to a stop and there, having from some barbed wire, as a two toed sloth.

From there we spied monkeys and many, many birds, before saying goodbye to Jonathan and hello to Luis who took us about an hour upriver to Tortuguera.

Tortuguara can only be reached by boat. The Lucky River merges into a larger river and winds along towards a national park area. In the 60s it was founded as a sanctuary for turtles and other wild life, with the sea on one side and the river on the other.

We learned a bit about the migration habits of the turtles and walked the beach where they hatch, but it isn’t the right season to see them. The town of Tortuguara caters to the tourists who flock here with shops of souvenirs and boot rentals for those who have come unprepared for snakes.

A quick wonder through and we headed back to our hotel for a relaxing night.

The animal could includes both types of sloth, howler and spider monkeys, a toucan or two, several intimidating caiman,  and many species of birds who’s names I don’t remember.

Do you know the way to San Jose

On our first morning, we hit the hotel breakfast buffet for eggs, over cooked bacon, too sweet pineapple jam, and rice and beans with a magical accompaniment called merely spicy sauce.  Also coffee. Costa Rican coffee. Nectar of the gods.

Fortified, we headed into town past commuters on their way to work. Avenenda 0 is a pedestrian walk lined with shoe and clothing stores and dotted with street vendors selling, among other things, the longest phone chargers I’d ever seen.

We came out to a little square with the National Theater on one side, children queueing up for the matinee Alice in Wonderland ballet, and a crew in front transforming the square with holiday decorations. I needn’t have feared being out of town this time of year. Festive is universal.

The National Museum gives a wonderful over view of Costa Rican history from Pre Columbian to current day, with sometimes quite cheeky informational plaques  (the one about Costa Rica’s LGBTQ acceptance noted that it is behind other countries).  One special installation featured ancient myths, nearly all of which were animals seeking revenge on hunters who injured them. “If you’re going to shoot, shoot to kill” they’d say before ripping the hunter to shreds.

From the Museum we lunched at the National Theater cafe – quite lovely – and headed into the Gran Hotel Costa Rica for a quick wee before the walk home. The wee turned into a few pina coladas, but hey ho.

Dinner at the hotel’s restaurant RBG (oh great one) another bottle champers, and out first day was in the books.

 

 

The Champagne Party

With the Duty Free champagne chilling and the little bit of work I needed to finish before could fully be on holiday completed I ducked out to explore San Jose before Nicola, Tiffany, and Jane arrived from London. At least as much of San Jose as was in the immediate vicinity of my hotel. And by that I really mean the AmPm the Costa Rican equivalent of my most favorite American store –  7 Eleven.

I love a convenience store and I especially love a convenience store in a country where I don’t speak the language. Rows of chips, cookies, and sugary treats with unfamiliar cartoon characters fruit and vegetable combinations on their labels. I’m in. I rejected the prepackaged ceviche (I wouldn’t get sushi at a 7 Eleven after all), but did grab some salsa, quac, two types of chips (one which turned out to be plantain), and an odd tub of something called Dip con jamon. Dip with ham? Yes please.

Their welcome snacks ready, I watched videos about Costa Rica until my London friends arrived with two more bottles of bubbly for good measure. We were, I was told, dubbed the Champagne Party by Jorge, who is to be our guide for the trip.  I’ve been called worse.

 

 

 

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