We are now recovering from another adventure with Elvis, our new amigo. Elvis works (sometimes) around Uvita, the town where we live, but his wife and 6 children live over the mountain in a town called Pejibaye. Earlier in the week, George had walked over the mountain with Elvis to meet his family and see a more traditional side of Costa Rica. While in Pehibaye, George and Elvis arranged for all of us to go on a horse-back adventure over the mountain. So a few days later, they arrived in our front yard with Arturo (Elvis' friend) and 4 horses.
Arturo and Elvis spent the night with us, and serenaded us with traditional Costa Rican songs, popular tunes, and Catholic Nativity melodies.
The next morning, after breakfast and strong coffee, we saddled up the horses and headed up the mountain. In this photo, George and Arturo are saddling up my horse, a slow and steady mare who had a very mild temper except when around George's young stallion!
And we're off! Arturo and Elvis traded off walking and riding, but our horses were not in any hurry, and usually the person walking passed those of us who were riding!
Here we are with our horses in the bamboo forest. This was the first time Adalaya had ever ridden a horse without being led, and it took a little getting used to, but she figured it out quickly.
We had to go up, up, up, and from the first ridge we had a great view of the "whale's tail".
We stopped here to rest and feed the horses.
Here's George on his horse, which we named Gris (pronounced "grease" but meaning "grey") Lightning, trying out his cowboy skills. Actually, my horse had just bitten his horse's butt, and he nearly got bucked!
This cute calf seemed interested in all the antics!
As we crossed the mountain, the jungle gave way to farms, mostly coffee and banana plantations, and pasture-land carved out of the hillsides.
We stopped for lunch, and Arturo (who owns a coffee plantation of his own) demonstrated the art of harvesting coffee beans. He is an exceptionally fast picker, evidently, and can harvest an average of 30 bags (sand-bag size) of coffee per day!
It is definitely harvest time for the coffee right now. On our journey through remote mountain villages, we passed horses carrying bags of coffee, and trucks full of the beautiful red and green coffee berries.
Here's a close-up of some coffee berries.
Dusk settled upon us as we came into view of Pejibaye in the valley. By this time we were all very saddle-sore and frequently alternated between riding and walking.
We arrived at Elvis' house a good 10 hours after we had departed that morning. We were all exhausted and sore and stinky, but we were welcomed by his family, and fed an amazing dinner that included papaya verde picadillo (a delicious, finely chopped and cooked green papaya dish) and "chicken from the yard".
That night, we stayed in Arturo's mother's house, a spry little woman with lots of spunk! Arturo and his family are very religious, and his mother had a beautiful Nativity Scene set up in the living room that took up about a 1/4 of the room. This is the Nativity time of year, honoring the time when the Wise Men made their journeys to see baby Jesus. Evidently at this time of year, the Virgin Mary visits all the houses to admire the Nativity Scenes, and we have seen many large Nativity Scenes inside and outside houses and businesses. Note the coffee berries and traditional coffee grinder on the right side of this Nativity Scene, and the offerings of tamales to the left of the holy family. I assume that tamales and coffee are to the Virgin Mary what cookies and milk are to Santa Claus.
We popped an Aspirin and went to bed. In the morning, we were awakened by the smell of home-grown, hand-ground, 100% cafe puro! Wow, now that's good stuff! (Don't worry Jason and Stephanie, I'm bringing some home for you!) I am not usually a coffee drinker, but after being around Elvis and Arturo for several days, and traveling through coffee country, we find ourselves (Adalaya included) drinking coffee everyday, sometimes even twice a day. Ticos usually have coffee in the morning and in the afternoon (accompanied by sweet breads) around 4pm which is "coffee-time" here, just like the English have "tea-time". And as the saying goes, "When in Costa Rica, do as the ticos do!"