Beans & Rice... and more!

Our year-long volunteers for the Costa Rica 2011 program have now completed orientation and are all out at their sites, learning more about their surroundings each day. WorldTeach volunteer Casie Czapski reflects on her first weeks, her beautiful surroundings, and the delicious food!

After almost three weeks in Costa Rica, I still don’t know quite what to say or exactly where to begin. There’s so much going on and so much to take in, and I can guarantee you that my words will not even come close to what I’ve actually experienced so far.

I’ll start with something not surprising at all – it’s absolutely gorgeous here. So far, I’ve traveled through San Jose, Orosi, Puerto Viejo, and my site, Palmital Sur (where I’ll be living for the remainder of the year). San Jose, Orosi, and my site look pretty similar. There are rich, green mountains everywhere and they’re all located in the center of the country. Oh, and there’s a volcano in the background of Orosi….and it’s always smoking. Not to worry though, it only had a small eruption last year.

As for the beach in Puerto Viejo that I visited this past weekend, it is also nothing less than beautiful. The whole town sits right on the beach and has a much different feel to it than the rest of the country due to its closeness to the Caribbean islands. It’s got more of a “Rastafarian” atmosphere to it. Just picture a bunch of black and brown surfers with blond dreads chillin on the beach and a street filled with tables and tables of unique, handmade jewelry, sarongs, head wraps, purses and anything else any tourist could ever want from a beach town. It’s also not unusual to find a restaurant roasting a whole pig on the street….

Now for something that I’ve found surprising – eating rice and beans, everyday, for every meal, is actually pretty delicious. And it’s not just  rice and beans. Here’s a basic taste of one day filled with rice and beans:

Desayuno (breakfast) – “gallo pinto” (guy-oh peen-toh) with brown rice and brown beans mixed together (rice and beans are not served together at lunch and dinner) and usually huevos picados, or scrambled eggs. There’s also some sort of sauce that they mix in that’s different from lunch and dinner that changes the overall flavor. Delicious.

(lunch) – the biggest meal of the day with orange/yellowish rice, black or brown beans, ensalada (salad) with tomatoes, cucumbers and some sort of light dressing, and then some form of fried fish, chicken, and if I’m lucky, chorizo picante. Every now and then we get fried plantains, nice and sweet. I love to mix everything all together and it actually tastes quite similar to a Chipotle burrito bowl. Love it.

Cena (dinner) – almost the exact same as lunch, but a diverse addition to the rice and beans, usually a different type of meat or fish. Again, I mix it all together and it’s great.

Now with just those simple descriptions, it can still sound quite boring to eat. You’ll just have to come visit to see how the flavor is so rich and tasty that it’s not dull and monotonous to eat rice and beans every day!

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