Learning to Love Costa Rica's Rainy Season

A storm brews behind Marisa. Marisa Ebony

Written by  March 29, 2020

Since moving to this tropical paradise, I've learned to make the most of rainy days.

A change in climate from Canada's cold, frigid winters is always welcome; however, tropical paradise isn’t always hot and sunny. Costa Rica experiences a lot of rain throughout the year. In fact, Costa Rica has a rainy season and a dry season. The rainforest calls for rain all the time, but if you’re lucky, you can visit during a time where it may only rain at night. That means the days are bright and sunny—perfect for enjoying the beach and being outside in general. When I close my eyes and recall Costa Rica, during my past visits, I see the intense greens of the jungles juxtaposed against a misty, grey sky. I even can recall moments when parts of the jungle completely covered in mist.

When it rains, it pours

On truly rainy days, downpours flood our yard in a matter of seconds. Sometimes it is so wet and rainy that we can’t even leave the house, or we run the risk of getting seriously muddy. Mudslides, roads washing away, and flash flooding are common in this region. Sometimes you can see it rain for hours and hours on end without letting up. Most of the houses here are equipped with corrugated zinc roofing in order to handle that heavy precipitation that only a rainforest could provide. Our house does not have a barrier between us and the roof, so when the rain comes down, it is hard to ignore it. We have to talk very loudly to be heard—forget about watching TV or listening to music. We just enjoy hearing the drumming on the roof and wait for it to taper off—eventually.

When the rain comes down hard, it is hard to ignore it. We just enjoy listening to the drumming on the roof and wait for it to taper off—eventually.

Baking through rainy season

What does one do during these times? The majority of people stay home unless they have to go out. When it is raining here, many things can and will stop. It reminds me of when we get so much snow in Canada that snow days are called for schools. The days we stay home due to rain are fun times to live with a chef, because this is when we experiment with baking. We cross our fingers that we have ingredients on hand to bake a cake, or maybe some bread. Considering we are cooks, we usually do. Unfortunately, I have made the trek out into the rain to buy yeast on occasion because we wanted to bake bread so badly.

In the city of Limón, it is popular to get pan de negro, or "black man bread," which is a bread that the afro-Caribbean people bake. It is a thick, dense bread that is amazing as toast for breakfast and sandwiches. My husband loves to experiment with making this type of bread, but in his own way. Because my son has a dairy allergy, my husband strives to make this bread dairy-free for us. I have experimented with baking patty, which is a Jamaican-style hand pie. It is traditionally served with beef or chicken, but I experimented with a plant-based version and used green lentils instead. My husband is also good at baking cakes: he does a lot of desserts-to-order, such as cheesecakes, cakes and flans. Mango cake was a recent baking project, and it was delicious, highlighting the natural flavour of mango to make a sweet, light cake.

Embracing time indoors

Rainy season makes things super damp—even if they did not get wet. It is a reality of being here; you just have to make the most of it. There are many things relating to living in a rainy climate I have had to learn here. Owning an umbrella is essential. Forget about doing laundry, since the sun is used to dry clothing in this part of the world. Socks are essential when wearing rubber boots. There is a subtle art to baking when the humidity index is high. "Hot boxes" are essential items to store your electronics and keep important papers dry.

In Costa Rica, I am always living "outside." This means my house is opened up during the day and we spend most of our time on the porch and outdoor kitchen area. When the rain comes, it pushes us inside—and right into the kitchen. I look forward to the rain when it does come because it gives us some downtime. We can try something new and spend time together as a family. I can also take some time out and focus on my writing, which I also love to do. I am so inspired by my surroundings. The jungle lives all around me. When it rains, there is a mystic quality that always gets my creative juices flowing.

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Published in Work Abroad Blogs
Marisa Ebony

Marisa Ebony lives between Canada and Costa Rica with her young son. When in Puerto Viejo, she works with her husband, who is a chef specializing in Caribbean cooking. Together the couple cooks food for delivery, hosts cooking classes and offers catering services. 

Website: https://marisaebony.wordpress.com

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