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Archive for November, 2007

Motorcycles in Costa Rica

Lots of people ride motorcycles here, especially small ones around 125cc.

Two-stroke motors are still legal here. I even saw an old Yamaha RD400 from the 70´s!

I´ve been collecting a list of cycle brands I´ve never seen before:

Zongshen
Jialing
Genesis
Super Lion King II
Hero Honda
Feijing
Sanyang
Geely
Yumbo
Shenda
Kymco Grand King

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We went to the US Embassy yesterday. Across the street was a cafe and we stopped there for a little while. On the menu was something intriguing: “bolaflake.” I asked Ileana what this might be. She shook her head and went to ask the counter girls. At first she said it was a bowl of cornflakes, which sounded reasonable, but later it turned out to be a ball of cornflakes, stuck together with condensed milk boiled down to syrup.

The best thing about Costa Rica is the water. People drink water out of the tap, just like we used to do in the United States, over thirty years ago. It tastes just fine. Ileana says the chlorine is added near the source, up the hill, and so it evaporates some on its way to our house in Heredia Centro. She says the water doesn’t taste as good farther up the hill.

According to an old travel book from 1996, most people in Costa Rica have only cold water in their houses. I believe this is changing with the influx of people from the United States. In the apartment I share with Ileana, we have a small electric water heater. Most houses use only electricity, I think because of the danger of earthquakes. I saw a gas range in the window of a store yesterday, but I’m guessing it was meant to run on propane, out on a covered patio or something.

In our apartment, the hot and cold water taps came from an English-speaking country, with H and C on the handles. But here the letters are reversed, with C for Caliente on the hot handle, and H on the cold one. Frio means cold, but I guess you could think of H as standing for Hielo, which means ice.

I had Costa Rican ice cream for the first time the other day at Fofo’s restaurant. Outside there was a sign saying there was a lunch special including beer for only ¢1700 colones, about $3.30. Not only did I get a huge glass mug of beer, but there was ice cream for dessert, creamy pink, white and brown; refreshing and not too sweet. I declared it the best ice cream I’d ever had. Ileana said it came from Pops. There are only two kinds of ice cream made in Costa Rica, Pops and Dos Pinos. You can get Haagen Dasz and the rest, but Costa Ricans don’t like them because they are too sweet.

Dos Pinos is the big dairy company here. Every store has this brand. It comes in boxes that don’t need to be refrigerated until you open them. I’m not too crazy about it, since I’ve been drinking only raw milk from glass bottles, made by local cows, for the last couple of years, and the boxed milk has almost no flavor, much like the pasteurized product in the U.S. I think a lot of people are frightened by flavor, since it might indicate or mask the presence of germs. Or something. I need to think about it more, to think about how I used to be when encountering things that contrasted strongly with my own biases and deeply held beliefs.

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