Visit to a cocoa plantation together with the crew of the Thula
For a long time we were the only sailboat in the bay. Another sailboat and a superyacht came, but they didn’t stay long. One morning, a small sailboat with a German flag was moored near us. Since they had arrived during the night, I gave them some time until I took my kayacat and paddled over to satisfy my curiosity. It was the Thula from Kiel. They had come almost directly from French Polynesia. That meant 50 days at sea, partly against the wind and the current. (They have a video blog, you can follow their adventures here: thulasailing.de). I liked them so much right away that I invited them to dinner. Both crews were happy about the revived social contacts and we met a few times for ice cream and made the trip to the cocoa farm together. The Thula crew had met Sandro during their tour to the national park. He offered them to visit his farm as well. The drive there was not through the forest, but across the peninsula on mostly gravel roads, some river fords and, as always, steep uphill and downhill. This time, however, we were in a more modern car and not on the loading platform of an old truck.
Before we got to the farm, Sandro showed us around the village. A village here always includes a shop and a school, often also a sports field. This place had a sports field with floodlights and recently a library had been founded, although the village was a small place. Waste separation was also practised. That is very noticeable here. Not only in the national park, but also on the hiking trail we did not find any rubbish.
The cocoa farm is a family business, Sandro is the youngest of 11 children and he is now slowly taking over the business. He renovates the guest huts himself with wood that they grow themselves. They are working with two universities who are researching how the plantations should be structured for sustainable biological use of the soil. For example, coffee bushes are planted in the shade of the cocoa plants and secure another source of income for the farmer.
Vanilla plants are laboriously pollinated by hand to obtain a sufficient harvest. This is why vanilla is so expensive.
We were particularly fascinated by the row of pineapple plants. Imagine having a pineapple patch instead of a vegetable patch! Mathias, as an incorrigible fruit fan, was already dreaming. But our resolution still stands: retirement will be spent in a place with a cooler climate.
Once again, they cooked for us on this tour. The fireplace was outside and heated with wood. The food was again super tasty, especially the crisps made from platanas and yucca roots. We were also treated to try palm hearts, cut directly from the plant.
The high light was the dessert. We made our own hot cocoa drink from a bowl full of roasted cocoa beans. For this, the beans are pressed several times through a meat-grinder-like mill. With each pass, the mass became oilier and we had fun with the cocoa mud. Finally, the mass is put into boiling water. The cocoa tastes very intense. Mixed with coconut milk, the whole thing is also supposed to work wonders as a face mask, but none of us wanted to try that on the spot.
Just as the North Germans say “moin” and the Bavarians use “Grüß Gott” at all times of the day, the Ticos (= natives of Costa Rica) say “pura vida” (“pure life”). Which can mean something different for everyone, so can probably best be translated with my grandfather’s saying: “Everyone should be blessed according to his own façon”, or with “live and let live”. The trip to the cocoa plantation gave us an insight into the pura vida of this family and did us good as a holiday from the pandemic.
There is still uncertainty as to whether and how the borders will be reopened. So we are not planning for the long term. First we want to enjoy Costa Rica, then on to Mexico. In the USA, things are progressing with vaccinations, we now hear more often in the WhatsApp groups from people who have already received one or two vaccinations. The USA is also allowing private boats across the border again. All we need now is the appropriate visa. For that we need an appointment at an embassy, and those are still rare.
Computing Skills – Part Two
The other day in the restaurant I tried it with a slightly older employee. The bill was for 7640 colones (incl. service charge) and I took out a 10,000 note and 40 colones in coins from my wallet. After a moment’s hesitation, the man managed to take the change out of the till without consulting a calculator for it first. Is technology affinity a problem of the younger generation?
I can still remember exactly how jittery it made me when my children didn’t write their maths problems down neatly and many a mistake crept in because of that. When asked to use only every second row of boxes in a maths booklet, or to write the numbers a little larger, my son replied at the time that he wrote so small to save paper. When I was at school, I took great pleasure in keeping my maths notebooks in such a way that the equals signs of a calculation were neatly placed one below the other, and I still remember doing the same on the blackboard, for which I received great praise from our maths teacher. A teacher who very infectiously conveyed his joy in the inner and outer beauty of mathematics. Even in my professional life, I put a system sketch at the beginning of my calculations and underlined the result (this was still in the days when most structural analyses were done by hand). In England, an architect once thanked me for this with the comment: “Finally, a structural analysis from your office that is readable”. It has to be said that there were also architects who didn’t even look at the structural analysis and where I were called to the building site later and had to do damage limitation. Once I just said: “Just do it like indicated on page 10 of my structural analysis.” That was an unpaid outing on my birthday at the time, the only consolation being that the house-owners were two nice old ladies. It wasn’t their fault that they got stuck with an architect who wanted to place the loads from the roof extension on a non-load-bearing wall on the upper floor and had planned a support through the middle of a doorway, but at the same time thought that I had no clue about structural engineering.
The Thula starts its return journey to Germany and in the next post I will tell you how we too are moving on before the thunderstorm season starts.