Remember the climate crisis? These Costa Rican leaders sure do

A couple of weeks ago, El Faro, an incredible media organization in El Salvador that I’ve long admired, contacted me and asked me to write a piece about the state of climate change mitigation efforts in Costa Rica. I am pleased to share it here because I think it will truly give you a boost to read about these incredible leaders, all 40 or under, who are shaping the future of transportation and urban development in Costa Rica.

As they observe in the piece, the COVID-19 crisis has created new challenges for environmentalists and sustainable living advocates, but it has also opened doors. I hope you’ll check it out here!

I’m a writer in San José, Costa Rica, on a year-long quest to share daily posts on inspiring people, places and ideas from my adopted home as a kind of tonic during a rough time in the world. Sign up (top right of this page) to receive a little dose of inspiration every weekday in your mailbox; tell a friend; check out past posts; learn how to join my Overwhelmed Writers’ League, every Saturday at 1 pm EST; and please connect with me on Instagram or FacebookTo learn more about how to support Costa Rica during the crisis, visit my COVID-19 section – or for ways to enjoy Costa Rica from afar, visit Virtual Costa Rica.

 

Here’s to ‘The Future We Choose’!

Today’s Daily Boost is a book we all need to read. The attitude shown in this photo (reposted from @cfigueres at the New York Stock Exchange) by authors Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac is the same spirit that comes across anytime Christiana, the architect of the Paris Agreement, enters a room.

I got a big dose of it when I heard her speak last year and when my daughter got to meet with her to talk about climate change. The whole world deserves to have that experience, and now we all can! “The Future We Choose” is out now – more here.

Day 23: The toad water of your dreams

If I had to choose one food to take to a desert island, it’d be an avocado. If I had to choose one to replace half of my medicine cabinet, it’d probably be ginger. Hot, cold, candied, pickled, grated or trying unsuccessfully to blend in at the edges of a jam or sauce – I’ve seen time and time again how ginger can cut through a woolly throat, clear everything out and just generally do you all kinds of good.

That’s why I’m obsessed with agua de sapo, a drink I love at any time of the year but that comes to my mind particularly in October, for two reasons. One is that this is one of the most beautiful times of year in Costa Rica’s Caribbean, the region that has created much of Costa Rica’s most delicious food, including this drink. And another is that the heavy rains in other parts of the country mean that you find yourself reaching for the ginger. A potent mix of ginger, lemon and tapa dulce, or unrefined whole cane sugar, a good agua de sapo should widen your eyes a little bit with that first spicy sip.

I’ve never made it at home, and no, I was not sufficiently organized to try it out before writing this post – you’ve probably realized this by now, but I generally need to write myself into doing things, which is why this project exists – but I will do it and report back. I found a few different recipes online including the news that most people cook it to dissolve the sugar, while others just whack it all in a blender, but the one that made the most sense to me is the one below. It makes a massive amount, but I have a feeling that frozen cubes of agua de sapo would be delightful to have on hand – to cool down a Moscow mule or a ginger beer or ginger ale, or added to a smoothie or juice where you would use ginger.

Have you made agua de sapo? Does thinking about Costa Rican Caribbean food make you drool? Let me know.

Here’s the recipe from Cocina Costarricense:

1 gallon of water
1 tapa de dulce (apparently this can be found as “panela” in other countries – and I would think you should be able to substitute brown sugar. I’m not sure how much loose sugar you’d want to add, but I assume less is more, as you can always add more sugar to the warm mixture at the end.
250 g fresh ginger
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

Peel, chop and crush the ginger; chop the tapa de dulce into chunks. Add both to 1 liter of water and boil until the sugar is completely dissolved. Cool and strain, then add the lime juice and serve iced.

I’m a writer in San José, Costa Rica, on a year-long quest to share daily posts on inspiring people, places and ideas from my adopted home as a kind of tonic during a rough time in the world. Sign up (top right of this page) to receive a little dose of inspiration every weekday in your mailbox; tell a friend; check out past posts; and please connect with me on Instagram or Facebook! You can also find me churning out small, square poems on any topic under the sun (here on the site, on Instagram or Twitter). 

Day 7: From Jorge, for Greta

Poetry is the damndest thing.

Last night at dinner I said to my husband, “What do we do? How are we supposed to go on when we have world leaders who can listen to a speech like Greta’s and then not take action? Do we just revolt in every single country that’s not falling in line? Do we create some kind of a parallel leadership structure? Do we just take over? Do we just create a new, single nation of people who give a rat’s ass, and elect our own leaders and go from there?”

He shrugged, which I guess is a logical response to such questions, especially when you have a mouthful of soup.

And then I walked upstairs and took a book of Costa Rican poetry off the shelf on a WWJDS-ish whim (that’s What Would Jorge Debravo Say, of course), and the book fell open to “La Patria,” and there he was, telling me just about the same thing. “A homeland is just like fruit,” he says, “sometimes sweet and delicious, sometimes acidic and bitter.” He imagines a borderless planet where “we could work, serenely abandoned.”

Isn’t that what we need to do? To get to work, abandoned though we may be by many of the people who have the most power to create change? Don’t those of us who are committed to this have more in common than compatriots might? Should we be pledging allegiance and paying taxes, with our donation dollars and purchase power, to a new nation led by the scientists and CEOs and mayors and teenagers and whoever else has been stepping up to the plate? It sounds like a fantasy, but it may also be the only possible way to continue.

For the first time in a long time, a poem made me feel more energetic at night than I had in the the morning. I’m not sure how serene I’ll feel about our abandonment in the harsh light of day, but I won’t be alone. I’m a citizen of the unstoppable. Now, there is no other way to be.

Here’s the full poem, “La Patria” (my apologies for any late-night less-than-elegant or overly creative translation):

The homeland is like fruit:
sometimes sweet and delicious;
sometimes acidic and bitter.

As soon as we start school,
or even as soon as we’re born,
they place the homeland in our hands
and they make us love it.
They tell us that “homeland” is delicious.
They never tell us that sometimes it’s bitter.

Homeland is the bitterest invention
since the bad invention of our soul.

If we all inhabited the world
as one single homeland,
there would be no orphans, no widows,
not in the lands of drought, not in the pouring rain.

We would be able to work, serenely abandoned,
without killing each other for the homeland on the battlefield…

(From Vórtices, Editorial Costa Rica, Second Edition, 1999)

I’m a writer in San José, Costa Rica, on a year-long quest to share daily posts on inspiring people, places and ideas from my adopted home as a kind of tonic during a rough time in the world. Sign up (top right of this page) to receive a little dose of inspiration every weekday in your mailbox; tell a friend; check out past posts; and please connect with me on Instagram or Facebook!