Immerse yourself in the beauty and the ambiance of the northern highlands of Costa Rica. Envelope yourself and ready your senses for the smells of the many seasons, the scents that encompass the rich natural resources of the land and the trees what guard the world as towers not allowing anything to hamper them. Imagine creating an organic garden filled with fruits and vegetables minus the chemicals that often are sprayed and used when buying them in a market. The author invites Evelio to use a small patch of her land to create this garden while helping her construct and build her new home.
Things take on many turns as the author learns more about the land, the animals that inhabit it, the danger of the snakes and the various insects that can cause harm.
A neighbor that needs to be dealt with and Evelio who works many jobs and is supposed to help her build her house, we learn of the many struggles she has to endure including her ex-husband who make financial promises and she had to go the legal route to collect anything in order to make ends meet.
Not having the modern conveniences that most of us are used to having, no car, no heat and other general things to make lives easier, she had to fend for herself and take positions in order to supplement her meager finances.
Evelio had many ups and downs and the interesting parts that I found fascinating dealt with the huge amount of beans and their Spanish names that would definitely make his garden something special to look at and imagine being able to have salads, soups and other delights with such a huge selection. The other areas that she focused on were the many kinds of trees and how they grew and would enhance the landscape. I love trees and the fact that they provided a special place for her was interesting.
The weather played a large part in the formation of the garden, but they had their ups and downs in their relationship. The animals, the chemicals and the many that enter the garden and wanted to help themselves to what he planted made it hard at times for Evelio to deal with the changes and of course he hoped he would profit from what he planted. The author learns about rural sustainability of Costa Rica but both she and Evelio stress over the garden and then she has cardio issues that need to be addressed as well as memories of her parents and the lack of closeness of her father who seemed critical of both her and her sister until he passed and they were able to start to form a bond. The garden helps her to center herself, learn about the cultural values, the healing powers of the natural world and the sadness she explains and the shock over the suicide of her former husband the circumstances behind it. Adding to it her memories of the marriage, his drinking and the fact that he was drunk when he killed himself.
The author had many life changing experiences as she the areas that she describes are filled with the many types of vegetation, trees that are unique to this country and animals that most of us never heard of. The bats that could find their way into fireplaces, the cows that could overrun your garden, the many animals that stomp on your land and the different ways she had to deal with them and the fickle weather conditions that controlled the yield in her garden and her land. The Arenal Volcano was active, the building of a house on her property, the many types of gardens that Evelio created some with beans, fruits, vegetables and other organic products that he hoped to sell to different people and make some big change. Evelio worked in construction but his passion for agriculture was paramount and the ups and downs that the author describes include the frustration he faced along with her each time the crop failed, the weather came into play and the final result was not what he expected or wanted. At times the garden is profitable, but he created more than one. A major event in her life was becoming a citizen of Costa Rica in 2002 so she would not have to be deported or worry about it. There is no dialogue or direct interaction with any of the people in the memoir. Koko is interesting and did work the plot, did many odd jobs for her and at times surprised her with what he brought for her to enjoy in fruits and other foods. The author shares the many types of foods, fruits, flowers, vegetables in both English and Spanish and at the end of the memoir she lists all of them in glossary. The description of when she makes a makeshift bridge for monkeys because she finds them special and needed wanting to protect them from any predators.
The many times that Evelio decides to leave, not plant or is frustrated with not being able to plant, create and yield a large crop takes its toll on the author and she eventually realizes that she is going to have to use another strategy to hopefully keep him from leaving or encourage him to move in another direction. Whereas Koko at times became undependable and things at the end take on a different turn. Roger is great but he is not always supportive of her way of thinking but when her father and his new wife come to visit the tragedy of the situation will play on her mind and visions for a long time. Dealing with his death and seeing it firsthand had to be more than difficult both emotionally and spiritually. The end result and the death certificate took quite some time and then she realizes that debts her high, money is becoming scarce and the end result was heartbreaking to a point but the many phases of her life from one, to two and now three take readers along with the author on an interesting journey.
Learning so many new words like Campo which means county, Finca, farm, Fatbol which means soccer and the many different names of the trues and the people. Primario is primary and Mandarine means tangerine tree, meseta is a plateau and arroz rice one of my favorite foods. There is a wealth of history, information and so much to see as the author created a vivid picture of this beautiful country and along the way shared her love for the agriculture, the frustration with the weather and her personal triumphs and defeats as we all wait with baited breath to see and find out the final outcome of where and what happens to Evelio’s Garden. Told in her own voice as if she is speaking to the reader, we learn so much about this country, the people, those loyal to her and the outcome that changed her life ten years later. Let’s not forget the list of flora and fauna and birds found on her farm at the end of the book.
Fran Lewis: just reviews
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