The Cassabanana and Guava

Cassabanana fruit

The fruits in Costa Rica are often strange and plentiful.  People seem to like to hear about them, so I’ve done a video on the Cassabanana on youtube here:

It is also known as casban, musk cucumber, sikana and many others.  It was surprisingly good, tasting a lot like a cantaloupe.  They last a very long time and are sometimes used as a moth repellent in closets (they smell very sweet).   They are full of vitamins like C, B1, B2, B3, calcium, phosphorous, iron and carotene.

As mentioned in the video about the parasites, the leaves and flowers contain hydrocyanic acid (cyanide).  In small doses it can be used to cure certain ailments but in large quantities, watch out!

Guavas (they look so innocent here don’t they?)

Now onto my gross story about the guavas.  When I first moved here, my neighbor showed me the sloth in his tree then all of the fruit trees he had.  One of them was guava.  They smell SO good.  He gave me a greenish one and said I could eat it now.  I saw that the ripe ones were actually yellow, but I took his word for it.  I kept it around for a couple of days and during that time would go for walks and find these trees almost everywhere.  So I picked some and took those home too, thinking I’d make a nice drink with them in the blender.

One night, I decide to try the guava he gave me.  It was full of seeds which you couldn’t even chew without breaking your teeth so I scooped those out and ate the flesh instead (there wasn’t much of it).  It was good.  Then I took the ones I got from the roadside and started cutting those open in order to make my icy blender drink.  I’m throwing the guava, ice and sugar and water in the blender and the stupid thing started leaking from the bottom.  I tried and tried to fix it but it didn’t work, so I had to give up.  So now I have a few other guava that I hadn’t thrown in there yet and I take a closer look only to see what appeared to be maggots squirming around in them!  EEEWWWWW!!!!  Then the image of me the night before eating that one was conjured up in my head.  I honestly didn’t look all that closely at it, so for all I know I ate some of them too.  The only difference was that the one I ate was green and from my neighbor and these were more ripe.

Of course I google it.  It appears that the fruit fly lays its eggs in there so these are larvae of those.  My friend says you can just eat the worms…gives you protein and doesn’t harm you.  I read that that is true but who wants to do THAT?

Mmmmm protein!
Mmmmm protein!

My other friend says that most fruits do have parasites or larvae of some kind in them unless they’ve been blasted with pesticides…so which would you rather have?  The one way farmers keep the guava from getting the worms is to bag them when they’re still green on the trees (I see this with bananas as well but thought it was to keep birds, etc. from eating them but maybe not!?).

I actually do pick the guava to keep on the table because they smell wonderful and if I’m in the mood to eat one (not much anymore), I carefully inspect them for worms. So there was one of my dumb moments in traveling…just had to share so you don’t think this is a bed of roses ALL THE TIME!


Animal rescue via email!

Cane Toad (Bufo marinus)
Cane Toad (Bufo marinus)

Around 9 last night an email blast went out from a community member saying that a resident here was in a panic because her dog had come in contact with what she thought was a poisonous animal during their walk that night.  She said the dog had blood coming out of its nose, salivating a lot and was having trouble keeping its eyes open.  I immediately thought of the cane toad, pictured above which was in MY yard a few days ago.  These guys are nasty and are becoming a huge nuisance not only in Australia, but now in Central and South America.  Dogs are particularly prone to biting and even trying to eat these things which spells bad news…usually killing the dog.

I got online and researched the steps to take in order to flush out the mouth and any other suggestions I could find and quickly email back the owner.  I didn’t think a vet would be open at this time of night so it seemed like a grim situation unless she took action fast.  All I heard back later was a thank you for the suggestions and she’d keep them handy for future reference.  She didn’t mention if the dog was ok or not!  I emailed back and asked if it was and this morning she said she had given the dog some milk and took it to the vet and was doing fine.  Phew!  I was glad to hear that.

Let this be a lesson to anyone who has a dog…know what kind of creatures live in your neighborhood!  I was surprised she didn’t think about the cane toad.  They’re all over the place here.  I was hoping it hadn’t been a bite of a viper or that really would have been bad.  The symptoms were somewhat similar so I’m happy the dog is still alive.  Not that this pertains to most of you reading my blog, but the best thing to do in case of a cane toad encounter is to flush out the dog’s mouth with a garden hose at an angle so you don’t drown the poor thing…do it for at least 10 minutes and then get to a vet ASAP.  Call them first to let them know you’re on the way.  Try to make sure the dog doesn’t swallow the water either…I’m sure this is easier said than done.  Inducing vomiting somehow can also help, especially if they ate the toad.

UPDATE:  I just found out that the dog WAS bitten by a snake but she didn’t say what kind.  It sounds like it will survive though although I’m betting there might be some tissue damage involved since it was bitten in the mouth.  What a drag…  Well, my ‘rescue’ may not have been spot on but at least it was a good try! 😉

The difference between vacations and THIS…

My favorite tree at the top of the hill
My favorite tree at the top of the hill

I’ve noticed some behavioral changes since I went out on this adventure and I can’t help but compare it to how I used to travel for vacations.  I had been to Costa Rica three times before I moved here.  I used to plan for each day in depth because obviously my time was limited and there were things I wanted to see and do.  I eventually got to the point where I was talked into NOT having a plan.  It was a little difficult and I think I still had things on the agenda, just not as structured.  I ended up liking that a whole lot more.  I really didn’t enjoy being like Jack on “Meet the Parents” where he had each minute accounted for but I didn’t realize that until I let go of it.

I found that when I first got here and was living in Cocles, I didn’t make plans to do ANYTHING.  I didn’t EVER go snorkeling like I said I would; I didn’t go visit the waterfalls or the national parks; I didn’t stand under a tree and look up in it expecting to see a sloth or a monkey.  Heck, you may remember that I didn’t even pay attention to what was in my own YARD!  I suppose I felt that I wasn’t rushed and that these things would come in time…which some of them did.  I felt like since I LIVED here now, there was no particular reason to rush into doing things.  As my friend says, “The plan is to not have a plan”.  Things change – the weather can play a big part in your ‘plans’, your mood has a lot to do with it and if you’re doing it with other people, THEIR plans can change at the last minute too.

So I’m finding that I like the fact that I’m not rushed but I do find myself putting things off FOREVER.  For instance, I have a favorite tree here that I love to look at when I go walking on the mountain.  It is very far away and on someone’s land.  I would LOVE to make the hike up to that tree and sit under it but I probably won’t.  My time in this town is coming to a close and I think I will regret not trying to go visit that tree.  So instead, I look at it, I painted a picture of it, I TOOK pictures of it and I’ll always remember that neat tree.  That will have to be good enough.  Maybe I don’t have to accomplish everything I want to do.  I am trying to make an effort though since I’ve become aware of this, to do the little things that mean a lot to me.

Maybe I will try to go sit under that tree after all.

The Canine Chronicles

Look what the cat dragged in
Look what the cat dragged in

<Heavy Sigh>  It happened again.  I actually think we’re a good pair.  She has dark hair with some gray showing and she doesn’t really like to run much.  I can’t remember exactly how it happened, whether she was just here or if I was outside and she meandered slowly up the stairs.  Either way, I’ve been adopted again.  I feel slightly better about this one because I do believe she belongs to someone.  There doesn’t appear to be many strays around here and she is fairly fat and well behaved.  I LOVE that she doesn’t touch me.  Doesn’t lick me, jump on me or otherwise harass me.  My kinda dog.  She does smell like a dog though and she sheds quite a bit.  Other than that, she’s very friendly.  Has the most beautiful brown eyes I’ve ever seen and is happy to just hang around.  Yes, I fed her.  Yes, she has fresh rain water in the little pool to drink.  Yes, I talk nice to her.  Yes, I put a towel out for her to lay on and Yes, I bought real dog food.  Ugh.

I found her gone the next morning after we met.  But sure enough, around 4:00 the next day, I see her coming up the stairs.  She’s happy to see me and shakes her head back and forth and wags the ‘ol tail.  I thought that something might be wrong with her ears and when I took a look, there was a wound on the edge of one of them.  It’s healing and she, like the shepherd, won’t let me get near her with the antibacterial.  But I think it’s something else.  Like something IN her ears.  There is no vet in this town or I’d take her (guilt from last dog).  Tilaran is too far to walk and I can’t take her on the bus.

We did take a walk to the store yesterday together and she obediently sat outside in the rain.  When I came out, she was gone which is always a relief for me.  I’m hoping she went to her ‘real’ house or off to play with the other dogs.  She came back to my house later that night again though.  Spent the night and barked at whatever was below the hill.  I felt safe and protected…it was kind of nice.  When I woke up, she was in front of my door, waking up.  So I guess now we’re buds.  She will take off at some point during the day though.  I hope to make her owner aware that she IS still alive…but who knows where she goes.  I now see her in my neighbor’s yard.  For all I know, she belongs to him!?

Yep, it's a nice view from here
Yep, it’s a nice view from here
Seriously...don't look at the camera
Seriously…don’t look at the camera

We walked up the hill together today which was nice.  It was fun watching her lead the way but sometimes walk behind me.  She’d dive under the barbed wire fences to check out what was on the other side.  She’d wait for me patiently as I watched birds in trees or picked guava fruit.  When we got home, I decided to wash the porch with water and a broom and she disappeared immediately.  I think she’s now back and wanting dinner!

On another dog note, I met a nice pit bull the other day with the coolest eyes…one blue and one brown!  He was skinny but I know he’s well fed, so I don’t know what’s up there.  I’m usually pretty scared of pit bulls thanks to my best friend back in the old days…yeah she knows what I’m talking about.  However, this one was friendly, didn’t jump or slobber on me and sort of posed for some pictures.

Unique pit bull
Unique pit bull


Oh, completely off topic…check out this cool butterfly: P1010282lo