As my adventure in San Jose ended with a cold cerveza and watching Costa Rica’s very own fútbol team win the final game against Jamaica to head to the World Cup, I quickly made my way to Turrialba the next day. There, I found old friends, family, and food. My friends helped me gain a free trip on a Pacuare. My old host family returned my familiar set of keys to me. And finally after making yet another connection for my program, I ventured to my most favorite fruit vendor in all of Turrialba for a celebratory pipa.
For my friends and family in the states who are unfamiliar with this remarkable delicacy, a pipa is similar to a coconut. However, the juice is fantastically sweeter and the meat of the fruit is even softer and tastier. I know, we have hundreds of exotic fruits in the states, but why-why?! has no one told Mr. Wegmans about the pipa?
This is Minor’s (My-noor) fruit stand. Here on this colorful corner (which, Minor painted himself in honor of the upcoming Independence Day celebration) people come by daily to buy Minor’s amazing pipas. He sells other goods such as bananas, buttermilk, and heart of palm. But his stand on the corner is so much more than a store, it is a facet in the daily community life. And for the next week, this is where I will be working.
What started a good hearted joke, ended in a full time position. We began bartering pipas in exchange for English words. And so began my lastest program, Pipas para Palabras (words). It may not be the largest profiting program , but it is by far the most delicious thing I’ve ever created.
As my curiosity and my constant-desire-to-learn-everything ways persisted, Minor taught me much about what needed to be done on a daily basis. I did everything from peeling pipas, bartering bananas, preparing palmitas, and chopping up the leftovers of the consumed pipas to be later recycled for compost. This was by far my most favorite activity, mainly because he gave me his machete.
People from all around stop at Minor’s stand. He lets people leave their shopping bags by his truck so they don’t have to lug around their daily groceries the entire time they shop in town. Today he even had his endearing Friday special: two free bananas. Minor also sets up benches made from crates and plywood where people can enjoy their recently purchased pipas or just simply each others company. Everyone loves pipas!
After a great days work, Minor paid me enough to pay for my last night at my first home in Turrialba. Tomorrow, I will be venturing down the extremely high water Pacuare in search of the natives at the top of the mountain. According to all of my river guide friends, the Pacuare has become a whole new river over the past two years. When mis amigos become excited, they start speaking entirely to quickly for my gringa ears. However, what I did catch were the phrases “crazy huge”, “monster surf holes”, and “you have no idea”.
Bring it on Pacuare.