67. A Helping Hand, a Cooking Lesson, and The Back Country

Saturday 2/19- Since Geiner’s main construction workers are mostly finished with the things that they can do and we are just waiting on the specialty items to be worked on (cabinets, electrical, windows, etc) there isn’t really anyone working at the house on Saturdays anymore. We took the opportunity today to go down to the house like we had been doing on Sundays. Ramie had some work that he needed another set of hands for, and I hadn’t seen all of the recent progress in a while, so I was more than happy to take a few hours away from my work and go down to the house. I was so happy to see that Ramie had almost all of the lights, fans, switches, and outlets installed. One of the air conditioners was installed and the installer actually showed up while we were there to finish the other one (AC units are only in the bedrooms, it's extremely rare and expensive to AC an entire house here). I knew Ramie had a couple of hours of work to do, and only needed my help for a little while, so I thought ahead and brought my fold-up beach chair and my computer with us to the house. I helped Ramie install a few lights, and when we were finished with the things he needed me for, he kept working and I pulled out my computer to work on some blog post writing. Unfortunately, we still don’t have any idea of what internet company will install internet here or when they will get around to doing that. We, along with one or two of the new neighbors in the neighborhood are trying to find a company that will install internet in the neighborhood and unfortunately none of the companies are being very cooperative. We know the internet is close because there are businesses on 2 sides of the neighborhood that have internet, but none of the companies seem to like the idea of running a fiber optic cable 150 meters from the highway down to the houses being built. This is concerning- we need the internet so I can keep working. Our house is almost done and I would love to move in ASAP, but without the internet, that could pose a big problem! There is always the mini-golf, and Loren, Nancy & Geiner are gracious enough to let us use their internet whenever we need it, but it would just be so much more convenient to be able to work from my own space, in my own house!

My view while Ramie worked & I worked on my computer today

It's starting to look more & more livable!!

Sunday 2/20 - Ramie and I both love to try new food, and there are plenty of new things for us to try here in Costa Rica. I have also always liked to re-create at home food that I’ve tried somewhere else (like at a restaurant). With all of this being said, of course I am trying to learn to make Costa Rican dishes that we’ve heard of, seen, or tried. Today’s “experiment” is Patacones.

I’m sure many of you are probably wondering what the heck Patacones are, since this isn’t something you may see too often in the US. Of course, I’m about to tell you! In the simplest of terms, patacones are smashed & fried plantains and they are quite delicious.

Plantains look like huge bananas, but if you were ever to try to eat one of these giants you would be in for a very sad surprise. Plantains are not sweet, nor do they have a banana-y flavor. There are 2 main ways that I have seen them used, the first is when they are VERY ripe (think black banana) they are pan fried in a little bit of oil or butter until they caramelize.  They eat them for breakfast here, but I would eat them as dessert.  The other is patacones which are made from very green, unripe plantains and taste a bit like a potato cake and can be used like a tortilla chip (or at least that’s what I like to do if I’m not eating them plain). I’ll give you some instructions on how to make them in case you ever have the urge to try. (I have found plantains in the US before, sometimes Walmart carries them, or at some of the Asian markets that have the exotic fruit).

1. Peel your plantain. This is trickier than it sounds. When they are black and ripe, they peel like a banana, but when they are green like you want them for patacones, they do not peel nicely at all. I try to slice lengthwise just through the skin and then peel the skin back. Sometimes you have to do it in sections if the skin doesn’t want to come off. Sometimes, if they are really bad, you just have to peel the whole thing with your knife. 

 2. Cut them into sections about 2” long. I suppose you could swap steps 1 and 2, but that just makes more little sections to peel. 

3. Shallow fry them in coconut oil. I like to use my biggest cooking pot with about 2” of hot oil. If you use a pot instead of a frying pan it cuts down on the splattering. If you have a deep fryer, that would probably work amazing to make these too. Fry them on all sides for a few minutes until they are cooked to the middle and slightly crispy on the outside. Flip and turn them in every direction to make sure all parts are done.

4. Place them on a cookie sheet a few inches apart, let them cool enough that you can touch them, and then smash them down into pancakes. This can be tough, use something like a smaller cooking pot or frying pan to do the smashing. You want them fairly flat, but not so flat that they fall apart. I like to salt them lightly at this point also. 

5. Put them GENTLY back into the hot oil and fry them until they are somewhat crispy. Flip them, and let the other side get crispy too. If you can get your oil deep enough (or have a deep fryer) you might not have to flip them. 

 6. GENTLY take them out when they are done, salt them some more if you like (think salty like french fries or potato chips), and drain them on a paper towel until they are cool enough to eat. 

I like to eat them plain (just salted). In restaurants you will see them served with guacamole or refried beans, you will also see them topped like nachos. One restaurant that we’ve been to multiple times even uses patacones in place of buns for a gluten-free alternative for their sandwiches and burgers.

Now- if I didn’t dislike frying as much as I do and they didn’t feel like such a pain to make, I would make these way more often! If you ever try to make these, let me know how it goes for you. Enjoy!

Monday 2/21 - After Ramie’s adventure getting our truck inspected for the Riteve last week, you’d think he would want to stay away from there until we had to go again next year. But of course, he is always up for an adventure! When he learned that Randall and Loren were taking Loren’s ATV to have its inspection done, Ramie was all in! Since they were taking the ATV instead of a regular vehicle, this means that they could take an “alternate route” to San Isidro- that means the scenic, more rustic, back roads route. Ramie loves this kind of stuff so he was super excited to see what kind of off-roading they could do and the views this route might bring them to.

If you remember back in July we told you about a house that we heard was for sale that was 12 miles away but took nearly an hour to get to- well, that is the direction that they were going to start in order to get to San Isidro this morning. The reason this short drive takes so long is because the roads are steep, curvy, narrow, mountain dirt roads. The kind of roads that make me a little bit nervous because they have steep drop offs where the shoulder should be. This drive today was more about the adventure for these 3 guys than it really was about getting to the destination, but I suppose since they had to get the vehicle inspected, the destination was kind of important too.

Hey, it's Ramie again! I sadly didn't get a whole lot of pictures of the back-country ATV ride. The 3 of us were too busy telling dirty jokes and just talking about typical guy stuff. We met at Randall’s around 10am, the appointment for the inspection wasn't until 1pm, but Loren had to get new tires on his side by side first. We met up and took off down the highway. ATV’s, side by sides, golf carts, dirtbikes and these types of vehicles are all legal to drive on the highways here, they just have to have a horn and turn signals. Only a couple miles out of town we turned off the highway onto a very nice paved road. However, this road is only paved for about 1 mile. After that it progressively gets worse with potholes, wash outs, and if you're adventurous enough you can cross the rivers instead of using the bridges. These roads would be like minimum maintenance roads back in MN even though they are heavily traveled by the locals that live back in these areas. This road twists and climbs through the beautiful mountains. Sometimes we would be on the ridge of a mountain with amazing views, other times we were following the river at the very bottom of the mountains. Back here off the beaten path, it's a maze of roads, each road leading to a different small village, school, church, etc. It feels so remote, but in reality we were only 10 miles from Uvita (where we live) but remember, it took us over an hour to get here. You could spend days exploring these roads (and hopefully not get lost). 

Eventually we made it to San Isidro and as I mentioned the first priority was to get tires. This only took about an hour and we were back on our way. It was now only about 12pm and we had an hour to wait for our inspection appointment. Randall thought we should just go early to see if we can get in sooner. So off we went, we pulled into an almost empty parking lot, which was a good sign, and sure enough we were able to get in early. The inspection process for an ATV and this type of vehicle is much easier than a car or truck. They just checked the horn, blinkers and emissions, mileage and that was it. We had our sticker and were ready to go home. But, since it was afternoon, we were all hungry. We asked Randall if he knew of a soda nearby to get some food. Of course he did, and we promptly took off that direction, back through the side roads of San Isidro, twisting and turning up the mountain until we arrived at the soda.

I'm not sure if we’ve mentioned what a soda is but they are a small, usually family owned café. Often the seating area is in their carport and they might even use the kitchen in their house. There are so many of them and the food is truly authentic (think grandma’s home cooking) and not to mention typically fairly inexpensive.

It was lunch time and there were many farmers stopping here with their tractors, many of which had interesting trailers in tow. It was sugar cane harvesting time and they were in the process of burning the sugar cane fields, chopping it and hauling it to the processing factory in town. 

The woman working the soda had fresh empanadas, and other food items. Everything looked so good. Loren decided to buy lunch for us and all 3 of us chose the empanadas. 

They were stuffed with chicken and veggies, I could have eaten 2 or 3 of them. Oh and don't forget the homemade hot sauce! It had a really good flavor and just the right amount of heat! We also each got a glass of homemade juice. I honestly don't know what I got, it was a Spanish name, but it was a mixture of different fruits and tasted so sweet and almost like candy. I could have drank the entire jug of it.

Once we were finished eating we started heading back to Uvita. This time a different road than the one we came in on. Up the mountain and down, twisting and turning again with amazing views of the mountains and valleys. 


Eventually we intersected with a road I was familiar with and that we were about 20 minutes from home. We made it back to Randall's and we all went our separate ways. It was definitely worth going along on this ride, although if it wasn't for Randall growing up here and knowing these back roads, I think Loren and I would still be trying to find our way back home to this day.

Tuesday 2/22 –  (Numbers nerd here again- lots of 2's again)  Now, after a couple of days off from working at the house, Ramie headed back down there again to start his “work day”. He would typically head down a little bit before 8, after he had enjoyed his coffee and cookies for breakfast, and today was no different. After he had been gone for an hour or two I got a text from him saying that there was a LOT going on at the house today and he couldn’t get a lot of his work done without getting in other people’s way. He was staying busy, though, by helping Jose install more of the woodwork (today he was working on the built-in closets in our bedroom).

Master bedroom Closet and nightstands installed

The granite guys were also installing the counter-tops, and our solar water heater was being installed. That sure is a lot of things all happening at once, but this is exactly what I like to hear! The more they are working on, the quicker we’ll get to move in! Right? 

Guest Bathroom Vanity

Setting the kitchen sink and granite

Granite fully installed in the kitchen

 Thursday 2/24 - I am a creature of habit (I think Ramie kind of is too) and we get into our routines and stick to them. When Ramie started working at the house he got into that new routine and does the same thing every morning. Coffee and cookies on the balcony, then go to the house around 7:45. Even if he doesn’t have a plan for what he’ll be doing, he still goes down there most mornings (I think he’s drinking beer by the pool, but he says no). I do the same thing every day too-- get up and work for a few hours while I drink my coffee, go for my walk/run shortly after Ramie leaves, then work again for the rest of the day. Today the first half of the day was normal, Ramie went to the house, I worked and went for my walk, but then at about 12:30 I saw our truck coming up the hill to the rental house. Well, that’s strange. He walks in and the first thing out of his mouth is “We need to go to San Isidro now to get stuff for the house”. Uhhh… ok…? Like, right this very moment? What do we need for the house?

After a little bit of discussion, he told me that they were getting ready to install the faucets in the kitchen and bathroom today and none of the hardware stores in town have what we need. Things like the drains, the traps, the water lines/hoses for the faucets, the shutoff valves, things like that. And, we wouldn’t necessarily have to go NOW, but if we didn’t go this afternoon, then we had to go tomorrow. Well, I guess I would prefer to take the afternoon off and go now, since I feel much more productive working in the mornings, so, I shut down my computer and by 1:00 we were on the road to San Isidro to do some more shopping for construction things. (I thought we were done with this!) Well, this is weird, we never go to San Isidro in the afternoon, we always go in the morning and usually heading home around 1-2pm! Oh, and what a coincidence- It’s Thursday too, but we didn’t even go to the farmer’s market. So much for our daily routine today! The drive home this evening was spectacular watching the sun set over the ocean.

Since we always drive this road in the morning, we have never seen the sunset from up here before now.

Pura Vida 

ALSO:  For all of you who follow our adventures in Costa Breeze, have you ever had questions for us? Do you want to know more about something specific? Is there anything that we haven't explained well enough? Now is your time to ask!! If you have any questions for us, let us know!! Once we have enough questions, we will make a full blog post with just Q&A.  You can leave a comment here on the blog, on one of our social media accounts, or any other way that you know how to get a hold of us! 

P.S. Happy Birthday Steven





  1. As you move along I get more and more anxious to see the finished product so get it finished will ya? I like the different architecture, different woods and materials that are used, also you must plan ahead as there is no Menards down the street.
    When you get your pool finished will you maintain it or is there a service available to check chemistry, vacuum and general clean up? Are pool chemicals expensive and readily available? I have a feeling stemming from experience that Ramie will be taking on this task so be gentle with him, things can go south (hehe) in a hurry.
    We have been up at Lake Miltona for the last two weeks and will be going home tomorrow to cut grass an do some clean up. Hopefully Wally has done what I pay him ( two cases of beer a week) to do. I should be nice to him as his crew will be doing our roof.
    Time to go, Edie sends her best, take care and once again congratulations for making this gutsy call!

    1. Hello Ken and Edie! Yes your right planning ahead is important here. We do have to home improvement stores here in town. If we cant find it there the next closest is about 10 miles away and then an hour away. The inventory is ever changing at these stores so each time I go, I always seem to find something new or interesting. As for the pool we have been paying a company to maintain it for us. They come out once a week and take care of it, and if anything where to go "South" I just message them and they will come out and take care of it for no extra charge. Eventually I would like to maintain it myself, but as you mentioned the chemicals are expensive here, so Im not sure if its worth it to be honest. Hopefully you've been able to sell your 5th Wheel finally and dont have that stress to worry about and you can enjoy the cabin more! Im sure Wally is doing a fantastic job taking care of your yard and give the neighbors our best from us!


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