Friday, June 4, 2010

THE TIMES THEY HAVE CHANGED




So here I am, sitting on a bar stool in front of the granite counter tops at the "house up the hill" using the internet. "How does he do it?", you may or may not ask. We know there is no internet service way up there on the hill.

Well, the story goes like this:
I was sitting in the Uvita Tucan Hotel (not listening to the airconditioner hum), using the internet before I headed home for the night and I ran into Big Rob, who used to do (poorly) the internet at La Cusinga. I confided in him that I had been looking for an internet device, kind of a "memory stick", which, when stuck into one's computer, accesses internet. These do indeed exist, and they even exist here, but trying to find one for purchase has proved difficult. "Just ran out", or, "new supply next week (month, year, etc.)" are the standard answers.

So he listened to me bemoan my fate and then asked me what kind of phone I had. Costa Rica is in the process of changing over from 2G to 3G phones, which will fuck up their entire phone service system, but they don't seem to care. I told him that I had a 2G as they still worked (for now) and were significantly less expensive that the 3G models which all seem to feature numerous application possibilities; bells and whistles out the wazoo, if you will. So he says, "well that's too bad" and goes on to explain to me that if I have a 3G phone, it can be converted into a modem that will transfer internet to any computer it is tethered to.

"Whoopee", I say, averring as to how I certainly wish I had one, but that they were entirely out of my price range. "But oho" he says, "I happen to have one for sale". And so he proceeds to tell me that he had purchased this here top of the line Nokia 3G but now an iPhone has fallen into his chubby little hands and that he cannot/will not live without it, thus rendering the Nokia obsolete in his squinty eyes.

So to make a long story endless, I bought the Nokia from him for $100, figuring, if nothing else, I now had a groovy phone way cheap as the damn things retail here in Costa Rica for over $400. But lo and behold, I take it down to ICE, the utilities conglomerate that essentially runs the country, and yes, they can give me internet capability AND, better yet, make my new phone and my old laptop compatible. Shit boy Howdy.
So I sit in the chair in the brutally air conditioned ICE office (everyone who works there wears a jacket) for over an hour and a half while the Tico tech with a truly interestingly gelled non-hairdo puzzles and putzes over my two electric boxes. I meditated, I sang to myself, I listened to the air conditioner hum and out of nowhere his somewhat greasy face breaks into a wide grin as if he has opened the diamond vaults atAntwerp. Entonces and Voila! He has broken the code and he is going to share it with me.

And so, I know have the internet here at the "house on the hill" and I'm pretty damn happy about it. It does suck the charge out of the phone pretty damn fast, but if one pays attention it is a non-issue. Wondrous times in which we live.

2 comments:

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Wednesday May 13, 2009 La Cusinga and Me


This words below are from our website describing La Cusinga.  The story, however is much deeper and much richer than these introductory words can describe.  La Cusinga represents a noble and successful effort to preserve this section of unspoiled coast and to keep it alive as a model of what true ecology can accomplish.  The dreams and visions of John Tresemer, the owner of La Cusinga and the Finca Tres Hermanas that surrounds it, have been realized here in what is a true example for all who would preserve and protect what remains of this, or any natural wonder. 

La Cusinga 
La Cusinga Lodge is a coastal rainforest eco lodge dedicated to marine and terrestrial conservation and environmental education. Its location on the southern Pacific coast provides guests with sweeping ocean views and a relaxing beach vacation. In addition La Cusinga is part of a private nature reserve that supplies the visitor with an unparalleled look at Costa Rican wildlife and rainforest. The reserve consists primarily of 250 hectares of virgin rainforest that borders thousands of more acres of privately protected forest. On Costa Rica’s still wild south-western Pacific coast, La Cusinga Lodge borders Ballena Marine National Park which was developed to protect the humpback whales that frequent the coast. La Cusinga Lodge was established in order to share the unique site with Costa Ricans as well as international visitors. Besides getting exposure to rural Costa Rican culture and beautiful vistas, visitors have access to highly prolific areas of primary tropical rainforest and unspoiled coast, all conveniently accessible. 

i returned to La Cusinga this past January, 2009, with a dream in mind.  I wanted to create a cuisine for our guests that would bridge the gap between what La Cusinga offered physically and spiritually, and what they were putting in their bodies when they ate here.  I knew from having previously lived in Costa Rica for over two years that there were organic farmers and that sustainable agriculture was being practiced, but at that time it had been limited in its scope as well as its distribution.  

My first steps upon returning were toward the local Feria to seek out and communicate my ideas with the growers and vendors who could provide me with a local, organic and sustainable product.  The fertile valleys of San Isidro that lie over the coastal mountains and to the Northeast of our Pacific location are rich and productive but are only now exploring the potential that they hold.  

I had in mind a vision that would support local farmers, fishermen and food artisans and one that would recreate (or perhaps, create) a new cuisine of Coastal Costa Rica.  I visit the markets each week to talk with growers and to develop the  relationships that I believe will be mutually beneficial as Costa Rica experiences its rapid growth on an international level
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Organic farming is a new and not heavily supported concept in our part of Costa Rica.  It is a brave step for farmers to make, as local communities of both growers and consumers have never placed, or not known to place, an importance on farming organically and sustainably.  I feel a responsibility as a Chef here to be at the forefront of those encouraging and supporting these pioneers  

I came to La Cusinga almost three years ago not knowing what to expect.  My first time through here was characterized by a lack of understanding and appreciation on my part as well as an inability to recognize or connect with the local "flavor" that would make for a coherent package for out guests.  I now feel as if I have made a "connect" with the property and the vision.  I am not completely satisfied and hopefully, never will be, until we are able to produce, right here at La Cusinga, the greater share of the produce we serve.  However, the groundwork has been laid with local farmers and the availability and quality of organic produce is impressive.

Now at La Cusinga I serve a variety of organic lettuces and braising greens.  My salads include wedges or slices of rich red tomatoes as well as sweet !00 and yellow pear cherry tomatoes.  I roast organic beets and marinate them in balsamic vinegar to be served alongside the lettuces and topped with a locally made organic goat cheese.

My soups are made from roasted and steamed local organic vegetables and tiny organic yellow creamer potatoes have found their way onto my plates, nestled against filets of locally caught fish.
I am now using a local organic cocoa powder that still contains the nuggets of cocoa butter unlike the fined cocoa powder in the markets.

And better still, I am able to use palmito (hearts of palm), ginger, cilantro and its sawtooth leafed cousin culantro coyote, mangoes, hot and sweet chiles, mandarina limes and yucca root from our own Finca Tres Hermanas to serve in my dining room at La Cusinga.   The connection from jungle and farm to table is evolving.  May it continue to grow.