Jungle Stories: Homemade Hummus & Chai tea, Expats, and Bananas

Monday night Rami and Hen hosted their last song circle before they leave for a trip to Peru. We sat outside around the bonfire and sang some of the traditional, spiritual songs that they enjoy. Then Stevie busted out, “You Really Got a Hold on Me,” which got everybody jammin’. Rami even played the maracas.

Their friends from Israel were inside the house, making hummus. Ronan has a fro of dark ringlets and a stout stature. His girlfriend is his opposite, thin and blonde. The process of making hummus, Israeli style, looked labor intensive. The raw chickpeas first have to soak overnight. The next day you have to bring them to a boil and let them simmer for nearly an hour. Then you blend the chickpeas with whatever spices you choose to use: tahina, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, etc. This last step would work much faster with a food processor, though I’m sure Ronan did not use one.

Three huge plates of hummus were set out on the table, sprinkled with paprika and garnished with some leftover chickpeas. Each plate contained quartered pieces of egg and loads of garlic. A large salad and a plate with fresh veggies – cucumbers and carrots slices – were also laid out. There were plenty of tortillas and enough food to go around, and then some.

It was at this juncture that Derick said, “It’s just like biscuits and gravy…from Israel.”

We mulled this over. There were a few dissenting cries. Oh no, we said, hummus is not as heavy, as thick as biscuits and gravy. There are not sausage crumbles in hummus.

And yet…Israelis eat hummus for breakfast, and rarely after 3 p.m. because of its dense consistency. At the time we were eating our hummus, it was morning in Israel. Hummus eating time. Ronan and Rami didn’t quite disagree with Derick…though I’m uncertain as to whether they’ve ever had biscuits and gravy.

After dinner Ronan made homemade chai tea. To do this, bring water to a boil with cinnamon, fresh ginger and a variety of spices, ranging from: cloves, nutmeg, bay leaves, cardamom, anise/fennel and all spice. Cover, reduce heat and allow to simmer. Add black tea and infuse according to the directions. Strain the tea and spices. And milk (the thicker the better) and bring the mixture back to a boil. Reduce heat, and add: vanilla or almond extracts, sugar or honey.

Yesterday afternoon yielded new and better Charlie stories. He told another volunteer, Emily, that he wants tattoo sleeves, and tattoo shorts.

Emily said, “Will you get your penis tattooed?”

“I’ll think about it,” Charlie said, seriously. “I have a friend who has a lollipop tattooed on his penis.”

How inventive.

Right now he has a little bear on his chest, holding a beer and the word, “Monday” spelled backward next to it. He recently got a tattoo of Texas on his thigh. It’s just an outline of the state, Dallas marked with a star. Emily was trying to convince him to get a tattoo of an elephant fetus. He said he’d consider it. Then he sketched an example of what one might look like. His drawing showed a small, wrinkled elephant in the fetal position.

Emily and I caught a ride to the beach in Dominical yesterday afternoon, and I was saw a man who was throwing Frisbees, catching them and grunting with the effort. He was probably in his late 50’s, very tan and lean with washboard abs. He was doing frisbee tricks. He treated it as though he were training for a competition. Throwing them under one leg and catching them in the air.

We saw a group of ticos kicking a soccer ball in the air, at each other, and behaving as though it were a very competitive tournament. Then one of the ticos stubbed his toe and started rolling around in the sand in pain. The other guy made referee gestures, “Man down! Man down! We need a sub!”

I also saw a little boxer puppy on a surfboard.

On the bus, we saw a friend of Emily’s and former Fuente Verde dweller, Jamie. Jamie has an 8-week old infant named Nicolas. Nicolas felt unsure about whether he wanted to laugh or cry, and spent the majority of the bus ride staring in wide-eyed wonder at the stranger she was sitting next to. He just started eating bananas, and Jamie gave him a couple of small bites while we rode.

A lady a row back started questioning Jamie about the baby, his age, etc. Then she advised that he shouldn’t eat bananas until he’s 6 months.

“Many native families feed their babies bananas,” Jamie said with quiet firmness. Then she got off the bus.

Papaya seeds are good for killing bacteria and parasites in your intestine. I never really liked papaya, but suddenly I see its value. Fresh, it tastes a thousand times better than ever before. It’s not my favorite, but it’s certainly growing on me.

Sarong’s are the most versatile thing you could possible own. A sarong can be a beach towel, a dress, a shirt, pants, a skirt, a shawl, and a pillow.

Ginger makes the easiest, most delicious tea. If you have a wealth of ginger, you should be making a whole lot of ginger tea. Really all you have to do is chop up some small to medium pieces, put them directly in your cup, and let it steep. Add a little sugar or honey and you’re good to go.

There’s nothing like watching bananas ripen, picking one and eating it for breakfast. With peanut butter.

Pura vida, amigos.



    • Thanks for reading! Glad to hear from another traveler. CR’s beautiful and bountiful, and the fact that there’s no military presence makes it feel peaceful. Things operate at a slow pace, but what’s the rush? Hope you enjoy your winter here – lots of great characters (tico, expat, etc).

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