Have Twins, Will Travel

Natural Paradise

Sitio de Mata, Costa Rica – We will be in Costa Rica for almost five weeks, staying in four different parts of the country. If all goes well, each region (and each house we have rented) has its own unique appeal. During these first weeks, we have taken up at the Finca Paraiso Natural, or Natural Paradise, a small family farm near Turrialba in the Central Valley. We found this place on VRBO (a must for family travel!).

Our host is Jose. He and his family raise a few chickens and pigs. They have one horse that helps with the planting and harvesting. They grow bananas to feed the animals (and to attract tanagers and toucans and other exotic birds to our deck).
But their main crops are coffee and sugar cane. Indeed, these crops are the mainstay of the Central Valley economy, and they cover the hillsides and valleys that we can see from our rented house.
Jose gave us a farm tour, significantly shortened, but not enough to avoid a meltdown. But before the twin lost it, we were able to taste the sugar cane and see how it is grown and harvested. Since then, the sugar cane harvest has been going on, and it has been fascinating to witness every member of the extended family chip in to complete this grueling work.
The finca spills out across the mountainside. One day we climbed the steep dirt track that leads into the village and stopped along the way to visit the pigpen, where five piglets are being fattened for Christmas dinner. On another day, we followed the track down the hill, forged a stream and fed the ducks who inhabit the pond below.
This afternoon, Jose brought his horse Paloosa up from the stable and let the twins take a ride (which was a thrill for kids and parents alike).
It doesn’t exactly match the stock image of a “farm” that I have in my head, mainly because it is wedged into this mountainside, instead of sprawling across a plain. There are no amber waves of grain or vast fields of corn. But this is a real, working farm – the likes of which have sustained this family, this region and this whole country for hundreds of years. What a thrill to be able to witness how it works.