Go ahead and drink the water…
The mountainsides below the continental divide north of Varablanca Costa Rica are reminiscent of Switzerland. Black and white Holstein cattle feed on the rich pastures that have replaced the rain and cloud forests over much of the area.
After a sweaty climb on our pannier laden bicycles, we pulled windbreakers over our T-shirts for the coast down to the plains of Guanacaste. A few minutes plummet erased several hours of uphill struggle. Above San Miguel we paused where a young boy was selling cheese and plastic bags of a thick white milk product on the roadside.
My limited Spanish and his description convinced me that it must be a drinkable yogurt.
We could have some now, and pick up some fresh blackberries at the market in San Carlos to mix up a real treat. Unfortunately, there is more than one way to ferment milk. A huge gulp of sour cream like natilla straight from a plastic bag apparently induces a facial expression on a thirsty gringo that is the stuff of legends.
I tried to pretend that I hadn’t noticed his quizzical expression as I raised the bag to my lips or his thinly veiled delight when I reacted exactly as he knew I must. I casually spun the bag closed and replaced the twist tie, and stuffed the offending substance into a pocket.
I tried to compose my countenance into one of refreshed satisfaction while wiping the spilled natilla from my chin and front. I pulled my windbreaker off and packed it into its self-storing pocket in preparation for the slight uphill grade to Venicia.
It would be more than a week before I would want my windbreaker again. Microbiology is marvelous. Even a few tiny drops of rich natilla can succor a spectacular number of the vilest bacteria through a week of tropical heat, and the resulting stench is amazing when you unfurl a nylon windbreaker in a hermetically sealed air-conditioned bus.