Tortuguero Community

This is a short video done while I still lived there. It’s about life in a remote community in Costa Rica.
I know most of the people in the film, including the first guy who speaks, my ex. The people there are survivors, hard workers, hard players, and have gone through very rough hardships. Living there gave me perspective and strength to live back in the states. Often, people try to share a 90’s moment with me….”Remember when this song came out?” Uh…no…..I was fishing way up in a back creek in the middle of the jungle, watching iguanas sun bathe, monkeys swing and free fall through the trees, and waiting for that tug on the line so I could set the hook.
I miss Tortuguero, but I have no desire to live like that again. It was hard, all the time. However, I wouldn’t change my experiences that I had living there. Not one bit. As this video depicts, there are things going on there that we don’t deal with over here. The lady, Sabina, who talks about making oil from coconuts. That’s about 100 coconuts fine grated…let me back up. Collect the 100 cocos, then husk them. Husking them is done by shoving them down on a spike and twisting from side to side. I watched a woman, Miss Rita, who was all of 90 pounds, do this effortlessly. When it was my turn, I struggled for over 20 minutes just to get one side done and gave up with a bewildered sigh. Never could get the hang of it. The next step is to fine grate…wait! Back up. The grate is a 2’X2′ piece of sheet metal that someone hammered tiny holes in with a nail…lots of them. It was then nailed to a 2’X1′ frame, causing it to bow in the middle. So, grate….all day grate…This is a family effort…Children are sent to collect water from the well. (Don’t get me started on how to do that, because there is an art in that too) Sisters start to build the fire up. The now grated coconut is placed in a big pot where water is added, and the ladies “wash” it. They squeeze their hands through the coconut, and the water turns white. The coconut gratings are now strained out through a sieve and tossed to the chickens. The liquid that is left is coconut milk that is FABULOUS in stews. It is now placed on the fire and cooked. All day, the fire is fed, and the milk cooks….the oil comes up to the surface and is skimmed off and placed in a bottle. A liter bottle. All of this work is for a small liter bottle.
One taste of anything cooked in this oil makes it all worth it. I think each bite taken is savored more deeply because of the process that it entails to make it.
Fast forward to the present. My first time walking up and down through the aisles of Whole Foods? Talk about culture shock. I see a little bottle of organic coconut oil and I smile, remembering such a different place where everything is organic and I am incredibly blessed in the richness of life.

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