Monthly Archives: June 2013

Working the coffee part III

A couple of weeks ago the rains became reliable enough to count on pretty much every afternoon, so it was time to plant the new coffee matas. Early on a Monday morning, our crew chief Jonny and his father drove down the coffee road that winds past our house in an old pickup, eleven hundred one-year old coffee plants piled in the bed. The crew went right to work. Heeerre’s Jonny!

Jonney planting coffeeAnd his crew.

Coffee crewJoél

Coffee crdew IIJeovani

I was invited for a photo op.

Photo opThe fields look really beautiful now, cleaned up and planted. The guys did fabulous work.

Lower plantationThis is what we now see from our deck every morning, overlooking out over our coffee plantation and across the valley of the Rio San Juan. The prepared fields on the other side of the canyon are now being planted, too.

Coffee from deckThe daily rains have nursed the little waterfalls that dot the paths down the hill. In a downpour, the trickles turn into torrents.

WaterfallThe walk down the coffee road through our plantation to the river always turns up something new and interesting. Like this hawk perched in on a snag.

HawkCan anyone identify this raptor?

On our last inspection of the fields, Zooey had an unfortunate encounter with one of these little fellows.

porky060513Latin American porcupine (Sphiggurus mexicanus)
Parque Zoológico y Jardín Botánico Nacional Simón Bolívar photo

Fortunately the coffee crew was right there taking a break . . .

Break. . . when Zooey showed up with snout and mouth full of quills, and they jumped right in to help pull them out. It took three people to hold her down during the operation.

Porky Zooey

Our life in Costa Rica encompasses a lot more than just the coffee. You’ll recall our last post about Blooms. I was stationed at the top of our coffee road, positioned to assist parking cars and to ferry arrivals down to our house. A neighborhood pup straggled out of the bushes, and we entertained each other with a can of dog biscuits. He must have thought this was an opportunity not to be passed up, because the next day he wandered down our road, slipped through the bars on our gate, and was at our door looking for more cookies. Irina of course fixed him a bowl of kibbles, a bowl of water, and laid down a rug for him to lie on, outside. Next thing you know, he’s made himself at home on the bed in Irina’s office. Last Saturday our vet César stopped by the house to give the dogs their shots. We asked what kind of a dog he was, what breed. His answer?

This is what we call a Tico dog. A little of this, a little of that. Beagle, German shepard. Who knows what else, it’s hard to tell. A coffee dog.

Perfect! We had already named him Capo (short for Cappuccino) for his black color with crema highlights.

Capo“Espresso” would have captured his coloring better than Cappuccino, but doesn’t lend itself to a good dog nickname, one fit for hollering out.

We’re still struggling to pick up enough Spanish to get by in our daily lives. Research suggests that exercising your brain by learning something new, especially languages is a major factor in postponing the onset of dementia (see, for example, here and here). If that’s true, we needn’t worry about losing our minds. While we may never master Spanish, we’ll die still sharp as tacks. But poco a poco, our Spanish is improving. We’ve found that the FSI language courses, originally produced by the U.S. government and now in the public domain, are great learning tools, and they’re available for free on-line. Several different Spanish courses are offered, with both text and tapes, including Latin American Headstart, Spanish Fast, Spanish Basic, and Spanish Programmatic. That’s plenty to keep me busy and my wits intact for the next twenty years. Más o menos.