Thursday, 13 March 2014

Palm Trees, and an ode to Martine

Lipstick Palm, at our house that we rented,  El Tumbo de las Olas on the Golfo Dulce

I am not done with Costa Rica yet!! I have been trying to make this as chronological as possible, but I just have to talk a bit about our travel day through the mountains, to the Osa. We had our day planned, travelling along the coastal highway. It would provide us with great ocean views and start a whole new feel to the trip. However, there was a mix up with the driver, and we ended up taking the Americana Highway, the main highway through the center of the country. So our scenic stops were gone! But Martine, in her usual fashion allowed this to not sway her one bit. As soon as we knew we were on a  different route, she picked up the microphone at the front of the bus and does, what Martine does: Espouse her love and encyclopedic knowledge of Costa Rica, and specifically, the agricultural region we drove through, as well as many interesting facts about the indigenous people of this area.
Martine never ceases to amaze me. Where did I find this woman?! How did I get so lucky? Martine speaks three languages-English, French and Spanish, very fluently. She also has so much passion for Costa Rica, something I really respect and appreciate.
So on this day, driving through pineapple and coffee plantations, Palm tree farms, small authentic towns, and yes, we still had a few great vistas as well, we learned many interesting facts about Costa Rica:

Pineapple, is the #1 export of Costa Rica

The sugarloaf Pineapple, is very common here, but doesn't get exported. It has white flesh, and is the pineapple the Costa Ricans eat, and is considered the sweetest pineapple you can get.

African Palms grow everywhere, and are the tree that Palm oil is made from. Unfortunately, they yield a high rate of return for growers here, so many people do grow this tree for Palm oil production. Not only is this oil produced here, but the valuable rain forest is cut down in order to plant the African Palm. So that is the first huge problem with Palm Oil production. The second thing is that Palm Oil is not healthy to ingest, and is often put into cheap foods, so the poorest people are the ones most likely to eat foods with this in it. 

We passed through Buenos Aires, Boruca, and down around the north coast of the Golfo Dulce to Porte Jimenez. We joked that Porte Jimenez in like a frontier town of the old west. They sell everything a tourist might want, and it is the last town before heading out into nature, getting far away from the crowds now. Our house that we rented is just an house or so from Porte Jimenez, down the kind of rutted roads Costa Rica is known for. But once you get there, close to the beach surrounded by jungle, flowers, Monkeys and other wildlife, it's a bit of heaven, unique, and a a real step away from your every day life. 
It is here in Matapalo that we burrowed ourselves. This Lipstcik palm, is obviously named for the vivid colour of it's central stem, and is Martines' favorite Palm tree. Ode to you, dear friend!

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