58. Practice, Vision, Tradition

Wednesday 12/15- After working on house stuff nearly every day since we got back from MN, we decided that today we would take a break from that. We got back into a routine similar to what we had before we went back to MN. We started the day with leisurely coffee, (I put in about an hour of work while drinking my coffee) we went for our walk and I got to do my whole strength training/stretching routine which had been cut short recently. We worked on things around the house, caught up on the cleaning that hadn’t been taken care of as well as it should have been, relaxed, and I worked a little bit more. In the evening we had a meeting scheduled with a local tica gal who needs to work on learning English for her job at the hospital. We connected with Angie on Facebook when she posted on our local Uvita group stating that she was hoping to find some native English speakers that she can practice her English on, and we can in-turn practice our Spanish on her. We met her at one of the restaurants in town and sat together just talking. She would talk to us in English, we would help her with words and pronunciation and correct her when needed. We tried to talk to her in Spanish as much as we could and she helped us when we were using words incorrectly or didn’t know what the word was that we were trying to use. Ramie was a bit disappointed since he has very elementary Spanish.


He was not able to speak as much. Angie did keep asking him to talk but he was uncomfortable. I guess now we know how the Ticos feel when they say they don't speak English although they actually speak it pretty well. Her English is definitely better than our Spanish is, but with time and hopefully more experiences like this, we hope that we’ll eventually get to the point that we can have simple conversations more easily. Before we knew it, over 2 hours had gone by. We were all satisfied with how this meetup had gone and discussed doing it again in the future. She works long days at the hospital, so we told her that whenever she has time to do this again she can let us know and we should be able to make it work. I hope that we can do this again, and even maybe try to find other Ticos that we can do this with!

Friday 12/17-
Since our meeting with Jose this past Monday regarding our cabinets, doors, and other wood items, he had gotten a quote back to us with how much it would cost for everything. We thought that his price was reasonable, so we decided to move forward with the planning and get the ball rolling. Today he wanted us to come out to his shop to see the things that he was currently working on, see some of the designs of things that he does, see examples of different types of wood that they use here and different colors that they can finish the wood in.

We met him at his shop where his guys were working and there was work-in-process everywhere. It was kind of cool to see how they do this here, all by hand, in a very simple shop. This is very unlike anything you would ever see in the US. We got to walk through the whole shop area, which was mostly outdoors just under a roof with no walls. There was un-finished, rough cut wood stacked up outside to dry. There were partially finished projects, there were projects that were being put together, stained, and at just about every point in the build process. 

This is his shop- yes, pretty much the whole shop!

Jose showed us the different types of wood that they use here including cedar, teak, and guanacaste. Each was very different in it’s look, it’s durability to the elements, and it’s price. He also showed us the different types of finishes that they use including regular stain & varnish for things like cabinets and household furniture, or oil for outdoor furniture that would be in the sun a lot. He showed us the color that the natural wood would be after it was varnished, versus what it would look like after it was stained if we decided to go that route, while keeping in mind if we stain it we can pick pretty much any color that is available down here. He showed us some of the different decorative designs that he is making on some doors, including new doors for Geiner’s house, and many other pieces of furniture that he is working on.

We made some decisions on the type of wood we wanted and the colors/finishes, talked to him about some design changes we wanted to make on the drafts that he drew up, and told him that we would make a deposit today so he could get started. Since we are asking him to be finished by the end of January (pushed to the 1st week of February if he absolutely needs a little bit more time) he will have to order completely dry and ready to use wood. If we had more time it may have been possible for him to order wood that needed to be dried longer and may have been slightly less expensive. We asked him to focus on the front door first, so that way once the door is ready and our windows are installed the house can be locked up. The cabinets, vanities, and our bed would be next priority, and if it takes a little bit longer for the tables and chairs we were ok with that since they weren’t absolutely necessary for us to be able to move in.

Geiner has mentioned to us that they are getting real close to the point of priming and painting the walls, both interior and exterior, and that we should work on picking paint colors. The last time we were in San Isidro we had looked at colors briefly, but definitely didn’t go into detail or make any final decisions. We came home with a handful of paint chips just to give a general idea of what we were looking for, but didn’t think these would be our final picks. So today we would go to the paint store and look at more paint colors. Unfortunately, this paint store didn’t have paint chips that you could take with you to compare, they just had the flipbook style set of cards for you to look at in the store. So, we hung out at the store for probably over an hour going through area by area, room by room of the house deciding which colors we thought would look best. When we found some that we liked we took a picture of it on our phone (which really doesn’t represent the color that great) and moved on to the next colors. After picking at least one, and in some cases a few different options for each color we had to pick, we went back down to the house. Between the paint chips we had got earlier and the pictures on my phone, we narrowed them down to what we think we wanted and sent them to Geiner. Our one possible saving grace here is that Geiner likes to get the primer mixed in the same color that we are painting so that the paint coverage is easier and doesn’t need 5 coats to cover completely, it might only need 2 or 3. This will give us a chance to see the colors on the walls (in primer) and if we absolutely do not like it, we will be able to adjust the final paint color to something different. I’m hoping we don’t have to do that, but it could be an option if we need it. 

Saturday 12/18-
Christmas time in Costa Rica is tamale time. I’ve learned through reading various articles and from seeing posts on our facebook pages that now before Christmas time, families have a tradition of making tamales, and by the sounds of it- it is a HUGE undertaking! They will get groups of people together and do something like an assembly line and make potentially hundreds of these Costa Rican homemade hot pockets (or at least that’s one way to think of them ;) ).


Many people, when they think of a tamale, they envision a Mexican tamale wrapped in a corn husk. We learned that here in Costa Rica they will sometimes do a corn husk tamale, but traditionally instead of that, they use banana leaves. When you see the finished product, it looks like a little green present wrapped up and tied with a string. Now- I’ve never tried one of these traditional Costa Rican tamales, but I WANT to! One day when we were talking to Geiner out at the house, I had asked him if he knew anyone who sells tamales, or anyone who makes them that would be willing to sell us a couple to try. He told us that his wife and her family would be making tamales, and he would reserve a couple for us. I was super excited about giving them a try!

So, today was the day that his family was making their tamales. He told us that we could come by in the afternoon after they had made them and pick them up. So, we headed down into town around noon to do a few things before we headed to Geiner’s house. Unfortunately we ended up getting side-tracked and it was later than we realized. We got a call from Geiner asking if we would be coming over. Of course we wanted to, plus this could give us a chance to hang out with them instead of just working with him on house related things. We made a quick stop at the grocery store and picked up a few beers to share, and then went on over to Geiner’s. His wife wasn’t there, unfortunately, but the 3 of us sat out on his porch and had a couple of drinks together talking about lots of things. Of course, the house and the build came up a couple of times, but we talked about Costa Rica, life in general, just all kinds of things. It was a good evening! After we were done with our drinks, we headed back home for the evening, and what did I do? Of course, I warmed up the tamales right away for dinner!

Let me tell you- they are delicious! I know they are a ton of work to make, but it is something that, if given the opportunity, I would join a group that was making up a large batch to learn, to help, and to take some home for us!! 


Mmmm!!  Pura Vida!


  1. Next time you come home be prepared to set up a production line where these little tasty treats can be consumed by your old neighbors.

    1. Oh, I would LOVE to, but I haven't found someone to teach me how to do it yet! And, for the most part, they really only do it at Christmas time, so it might be a while before I can learn. :)
      Thanks for following along on our adventure!!


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