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Homemade Empanadas

Yesterday, a community member from Parismina taught us how to make traditional empanadas! She was very excited to have us in her home and enthusiastically taught us her recipe. We started out by creating the “masa” (dough). To create it, we combined chicken stock, corn flour, and salt. Then, she helped us to add water to make the dough the perfect consistency to fold into an empanada.

We each got a ball of dough, and she then showed us how to flatten it and add beans and cheese. Flattening the dough into a perfect circle was much more challenging than I expected, it definitely takes a ton of practice to do it as well as the community member could. While everyone was struggling to flatten and then fold their empanada into the perfect shape, the woman walked around smiling, offering advice, and lending a hand when we needed it.

Finally, she helped us to fry our empanadas in oil over an open fire. This took about five minutes and then they were ready to eat! They were effortless but delicious. In total, this process took us only about twenty minutes. I’m very excited to try to recreate this when I get home and share it with my family. It was also lovely to learn from a community member in her own home about a recipe from Costa Rica!

Bracelet Making

On our last days in Parismina, we were able to interact with the community members in many ways. One of those ways was when a woman named Doña Teresa taught us how to make bracelets. When she showed us how to do it she made it look incredibly easy but as I started to mine it took a while for me to get the hang of it. The colors I chose were black and red for my first one. It definitely started off very choppy and when Doña Teresa asked to see mine I got a quick answer of “It’s ok.” Which I found very funny, she was a great teacher and you could tell she really enjoyed her craft and getting to know us. She started a conversation with my friend Jesse (who’s from Canada) about how much she loves traveling and that one of her favorite places was Toronto. It was a very sweet moment and I’m glad I was there to witness it. Well back to bracelet making. It was not easy for me but once I figured out the pattern I wanted and finally got it I was very happy with myself. That day was one of my favorites because I was able to get to know more of the community members- to understand their crafts and specialties.

Last Morning in Parismina/First Day in Tortuguero

Our day began at the break of dawn with the sun breaking the seams of the clouds and the birds chirping throughout the oceanic sky. Everyone arose from the beds yawning with big breaths and began their morning routines. We all prepared for the adventures that were to approach us within the upcoming hours.

Lucky even through the tough days that were previously bygone we all were in tip-top shape looking better than ever. We followed the sand path down the road, which was filled with beautiful and interesting dogs of all kinds.

We were greeted by the community members that had also arose early to start their own morning routines and jobs. Everyone was so friendly and greeted us with smiles and Good Mornings. As we headed down the walkway our eyes met with the bright and beautiful sign of Dony Olga’s. Everyone gathered and washed their hands thoroughly before we each received a delicious plate of breakfast that was filled with breathtaking and mouth-watering empanadas, bowls of fruit, and sweet tea. On the previous day during our late night dinner, the group had a wonderful activity where we were able to create our own delicious “apretados” (a frozen treat contained in a bag) so that this morning we were rewarded with our own creation.

Everyone enjoyed our last breakfast in Parismina and we thanked the wonderful Olga’s and all who helped our stay become that much brighter. When they headed back to the hostel to begin our departure. Due to the brilliant preparations that were made by our coordinators and staff our boarding onto the boat went through smoothly. We gave our final goodbyes as we headed off down the river from which we came. On our boat trip, we witnessed the beauty of nature that surrounded us. Whether we looked to the left or right our gaze was met with an extraordinary jungle full of diverse and cultural animals that represents Costa Rica.

With our destination slowly approaching my peers and I got ready to start our new experience in a new city/town within Costa Rica. The boat began cruising next to the port and we saw a mass of tourists kayaking. We then drifted into the dock and departed the boat. There were people there to help get our bags and guide us to the hotels. As we walked the street of Tortuguero we saw a ton of beautiful shops filled with handmade arts and crafts. We saw restaurants
and food carts that were run by the nicest people ever who were happy if you even just talked to them.

Once we made it to our hotel we were met with gorgeous scenery of bright colors and a welcoming staff. Everyone was then divided into their own rooms with different people. Once everyone was settled we then began our first excursion through the bustling streets of Tortuguero. We began our expeditions with souvenir shopping. Since there were so many stores and shops with wonderful items it was very tough to figure out which one we should buy. There was one shop where I saw this glimmering hummingbird that I knew my grandmother would just love. It was red and blue and made out of tiny pearl-like beads. The further we walked down the street the more shops we saw and the more people at those shops.

Since Tortuguero is a popular tourist place it’s always filled with excitement and people from all over the world. Once we finished our souvenir shopping we then decided to stop and get milkshakes. We stopped at a restaurant where a woman lured us in with her hospitality; it was definitely a 5-star review already. She said that we should try the coconut and pineapple milkshake- it was said to be the best on the island. Everyone simply enjoyed them so much that she gave some of us a free refill.

Once our free time for shopping came to a close everyone then headed back to get ready for dinner. Our first dinner in Tortuguero was delicious and the hospitality was definitely of high quality. The workers made sure everything was to our liking and that we had everything we needed to have a great stay. Once everyone had their fill we then ventured off to our rooms to have a lovely sleep. This ends our first day in the city of Tortuguero.