LIBERIA, Costa Rica — An early wake-up call took us to a dairy farm run by Juan Baldioceda. We needed to get there early so we could check out the cows getting milked. We walked in as the cows trudged to their stables. Each was held in place by movable fence posts, so they would hold still while they fed. Baldioceda was a little late to the farm because he was feeling a bit sick, so two Nicaraguan workers slapped on the milking devices, and the cows gave little resistance — a kick or two with hind legs at most. Baldioceda gave a detailed lecture about the history of his farm, and the processes of distributing the milk and making the cheese. We even got to taste fresh cheese from the morning, and cheese that matured for a day. I was too afraid to try at the early hour of the morning, but at least Bill seemed to really enjoy it. Then came breakfast. Get how early it was yet? My alarm went off at 5:15 a.m.
We traveled to a large rice factory after breakfast. Arroz Sabanero is one of Costa Rica’s largest factories and distributors of rice, and we were lucky to have its production manager, Erick Villalobos Camacho, give us a tour. We were quickly warned not to scratch ourselves, because the dust and debris leftover from making the rice store-ready is an irritant. We wore face masks to keep it out of our lungs, as it was present through the entire tour. We saw the milling, packaging and storage parts of the factory. My personal favorite was the sorting of the rice. It seemed like there were 30 different machines sorting the rice in some way (in reality, it was probably close to 8-10 running). The rice harvested is a completely different product than the rice you see in the Super Market. I never put much thought into it, but wow.
The second part our day seemed like one great view. We stopped for lunch in Liberia, and began our two hour trip to Santa Rosa National Park. We stopped in La Cruz to see the landscape of the Salinas Gulf as a detour on the way to the park, even though it was a little out of our way. We were surprised by the generosity of a construction worker, who let us into a site to give us a better view. It was breathtaking. Once we got into the park, we took a walk around La Casona Santa Rosa, the ranch house where the famous Battle of 1856 and others took place. The site was burned to the ground in 2001, but it was rebuilt beautifully. We then walked up to the Monument of the Heroes from the battles at the Casona, where we got to see the sunset over the beautiful landscape.
It was a long day, but who’s complaining? Certainly not any of these journalists.
Until next time,