I forgot to mention, I’ve been cooking again! I look forward to making dinner every day and spend my idle time looking up recipes and finding uses for local ingredients. I finally bought some achiote paste, which is a popular spice slash food colouring, so I’m going to see what I can do with it. Last week I made a seafood pasta salad for a small potluck dinner, a recipe of my own creation and one of my first times cooking for other people. It turned out really well! I did a trial run a few days before then made adjustments (green plantains need to boil for MUCH longer than yellow ones!). This week I cooked us a rather delicious Brazilian fish stew which was exciting because you don’t put any liquid into it, just tomatoes and other veggies which provide the juice, then you layer the seafood and herbs on top and those get steam cooked.
As in Honduras, the seafood came right to our door at Casa Coba. A friendly guy in a pickup truck came by a couple times a week with camarones (shrimp) and a few fillets of whatever was caught that day. On his last visit he brought beautiful yellow-finned tuna which we ate as sashimi the first night (tasty!), then lightly seared with wasabi lime-mayo (mmmmm), then cooked in a honey-chili sauce (kind of weird, but good on a salad).
We also picked bananas, basil, chilies and unripe mangoes from the garden at Casa Coba. Colin made excellent banana milkshakes every morning which were a wonderful start to our days. I shredded the mangoes and mixed them with lettuce and red peppers for my daily lunch. They were sweet and citrusy so I topped it with a little olive oil and soy sauce, which sounds weird but it worked.
We mainly shopped at the Pali grocery, the first chain grocery which just opened in Samara: it’s big, it’s cheap, it doesn’t have a lot of things but has many brands of those few things. They have 5 types of canned tuna with peas, 5 types of lime-flavoured mayonnaise, 5 types of powdered chicken stock, 5 types of bologna sausage, and 5 types of dried black beans. But if you want, say, beef stock or plain mayo or pinto beans, you are out of luck. We had some laughs about it, and cooked using what they did have. Happily Samara also has a smaller grocery which takes the opposite approach and has one of everything. Fancy things like oregano, brown rice and chocolate, mostly imported from Spain at inflated prices, but sooo worth it (I am thinking of the chocolate).
Hmm, I am obviously hungry as I write this. Must be time to try out the popular local restaurant in Pochote: Momo’s. brb.
Momo’s food was very good! The shrimp was fresh and tasty and reminded me of Thailand, and they have a peaceful atmosphere on the edge of the river where we listened to howler monkeys and watched birds diving for insects. Unfortunately the menus are priceless and I think they gave us the gringo prices, which is not a system I’m fond of but whatever. On the way back we noticed a two table restaurant out of someone’s home which we are definitely going to visit. Also a home selling fish and lobster from a collapsing shack around back, which we will work up the courage to approach. Pochote is a fishing village after all, and the mangroves and riverbanks here are filled with fishing boats.
I should talk more about our new casa for the next two months! It’s totally beautiful and built entirely of wood. We think the hexagonal shape makes it feel like a ship on the inside; it even has kind of a mast in the centre. We’re sleeping and living in the big room downstairs, then there’s a steep kind of ladder/staircase up to the big loft with two more beds and an extra bathroom. And a/c and hot water to boot – such luxury! Enormous doors open away onto a superb deck; hammock-lined and breezy, it’s definitely where we’ll be spending our time. The house is set back on a big treed lot right on the ocean, at the very very tip of the 8km long beach with Tambor at the other end. We went for a swim earlier and declared the beach wonderful, with even the ocassional body-surfable wave.
We’re sitting out on the deck now listening to the gentle waves and the crickets and the other wildlife. The yard is filled with crab grass and crab holes but so far we’ve only seen an iguana and some big toads, which Colin is chasing around right now trying to get pictures of. We’re going to meet the house manager tomorrow and get the low down on the area. Then for a long walk on our nearly deserted, beautiful soft sanded beach. What a life!