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Volunteer Blog: Edd Hornsby

Costa Rica and the Osa particularly boasts many claims to fame; its frequently cited as the happiest nation on earth; as containing the ‘biodiversity nucleus of the world; and recently, it may have popped up on your news feed as having derived 100% of its energy from renewable sources so far in 2015. All laudable claims to fame!

Less frequently celebrated, however, is the nation’s cuisine. Menus in Cost Rica, along with much of Central and South America, are often described as consisting of two choices: Beans and Rice or Rice and Beans. Of course this criticism is unfair, not only are these two staples delicious but the national cuisine extends far beyond these mainstays.

At Osa Conservation our food is provided by a wonderful ensemble of Ticas; Amelia, Anhia and Elizabeth, who do a wonderful job of keeping this army of fieldworkers marching on their stomachs.

The day typically starts, unless fieldwork gets in the way of course, with breakfast at 7.00am. This has quickly become my favourite meal of the day. Desayuno tipico is a frequent feature, consisting of the classic Gallo Pinto (you guessed it, rice and beans!) and a combination of plantains, eggs, meats and whatever else is available. Now the brilliance of this meal cannot be underestimated, the energy it gives is remarkable, it is the perfect way to start the day and I cannot wait to get home and start knocking this up every day myself. Testament to the meals excellence is its favourability ranking in the station; it is universally felt it beats any other contenders, whether its pancakes, arrepas (delicious homemade scones) or scrambled eggs, to the stations top spot. Of course this doesn’t include the mountains of seasonal fresh fruit available daily from pineapple to papaya, mango to watermelon.

Next is Lunch at noon sharp, where a wide range of dishes are presented, tuna, pasta, chilli, hamburgers anything and everything seems to be available from these ladies and if the main (or seconds) doesn’t fill you up, a seemingly inexhaustible supply of Gallo Pinto is always available.

Dinner arrives at 6.00pm and again variety is massive, soup, Pizzas from the stone oven, lentils, taco bowls, steak, which is then followed, if you are lucky and if the ladies are in a good mood, by local treats such as flan, sweet breads or cake.

It should be noted here that Ticos and Ticas (Costa Ricans) often share an incredibly sweet tooth and this means special occasions such as Birthdays are highly popular events at the station. Here impressively decorated cakes really take centre stage and tradition often dictates a face be planted before the first slice. Finally, if you’re down here, it’s your birthday and you have a sweet tooth, then just be sure to ask for some of the station’s very own, carefully cultivated Synsepalum dulcificum, aka the ‘miracle fruit’…

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