I am cold. I don’t like being cold. I might expand on this topic further, except I don’t want somebody to google my name ten years down the road and find a laundry list of all my grievances with the world published for all mankind to see. Life is full of so many amazing, positive, wonderful things, and when I am warm and wearing a cotton sundress, I appreciate those things much more than I do when I am bundled up wearing a toque.

I am with my family right now – that’s something I appreciate. I am about to have dinner with my aunt Maggie and my parents. In a family where the average physical distance between our homes is about 2000km, these times of family togetherness are wonderful to experience. And, before the internet cut out (*&$%ing piece of *#@%) I was able to briefly see my young nephew’s face over Skype while chatting with my brother and sister-in-law. Really, it’s nice to be able to enjoy spending time with my family before going 7500km south to Latin America.

There are still flowers blooming in the window boxes at my parents’ place. They complement the changing leaves beautifully. I hope I don’t stay long enough to see them peeking up out of the first snow.

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I have no idea what Costa Rica will be like when I get there. I don’t have any experience with Latin America to base it on. I imagine it will be similar to the Philippines and Thailand, minus the Buddhist temples. Warm climate, friendly people, unusual birds, animals, insects and lizards, and tourist areas set up for the many holiday-makers who rarely make it off the beaten track. I hope to spend my time away from those tourist traps and live with the locals.

I remember in the Philippines, staying with a family and eating local food. They didn’t have a fridge, so they bought fresh fish and vegetables at the market every morning, and the food was so… alive. Not literally, but everything tasted more real than it did in Canada. The tomatoes were so tomatoey, and the onions were the very essence of onion. I remember stopping with my friend Rudy at a roadside stand in Cambodia, ordering traditional noodles and being disappointed that they were instant ramen, but the taste – they were served with the chickeniest chicken I have ever eaten, even compared to our own organic hens on our farm. That’s the way I imagine food in Costa Rica – fresher and more real than what we find here in Canada.

Now, sitting here in my toque and slippers, smelling the curried squash stew for dinner, Canadian food doesn’t seem so bad. Yes, I look forward to fresh tropical fruits and avocados, but a nice winter vegetable stew is one of those pleasures that makes up for the winter.

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