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After a nice drive over the Talamanca mountains and through “Cerro la Muerte” a cloudy mountaintop where so many people died during the creation of the highway they call it the peak of death, we arrived at the small restaurant (called a “soda” by Costa Ricans), El Tabacon, that is owned by the family I used to live with. Dona Sidey and her daughter Daniela were waiting for us with fresh pineapple juice and the food prepared for us to start our “Costa Rican Typical Food” cooking lesson. We cut local vegetables from their farm called Ayote and Chayote, which are two different squashes that are really tasty when chopped up into small cubes and cooked with some onions, red peppers, cilantro and other simple ingredients that create a healthy dish.

Usha making tortillas with Daniela and Sidey Usha making tortillas

Then Usha tried her hand at tortillas, flattening the corn flour and water mixture into it round shape and throwing them into the frying pan for just a few minutes, and then grilling them on an open flame. Mmmm, yummy homemade tortillas! We also had homemade guacamole, rice and beans, and a salad made with shredded cabbage, tomato and cucumber with lime juice and cilantro for a dressing.

James and Usha having lunch at the El Tabacon soda Sidey with James and Usha in the soda

It was great to see Sidey, who was my host-mom when I lived here last year, but was more like a really good friend and confidante. We welled up with tears at the sight of each other, and were so happy to see each other even though it was just last year when I was here but without a phone or internet it is hard for us to keep in touch. Her daughters came over to the soda, along with her husband and two little most adorable grandchildren (on tractor) and our driver said he could see by how my face lit up how happy I was to see them. They are really wonderful people I’m lucky to be back. It’s amazing how some people can touch your heart and make you feel like family.