The Saint Louis Trips

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STL it’s about two hours east from Columbia. Just like with Kansas City, we go every time we get a chance; which means we make an excuse to go and roam around. The first time we were in STL, we visited for a few hours. We drove across the Mississippi to see the city from the state of Illinois. As the sun set on the horizon, this is what we saw.

We looked at each other and decided we had to come back, and we did, several times.



The Independence trip

We celebrated Costa Rica’s independence day eating at Fritanga, a Nicaraguan restaurant. I was wearing my “Pura Vida” trucker cap. The server gazed at it and asked: “Are you from Costa Rica?” I said yes. Her follow up question was: “So, is it true that Gallo Pinto is originally from Costa Rica?” If you don’t know about Gallo Pinto. Here’s a little backstory. Costa Ricans say they invented Gallo Pinto, a dish that consists of rice and beans. Nicaraguans say they invented it first. Back to the story. I looked at Auro, hoping she would rescue me from my mouth. I could smell trouble and I didn’t want the cook spitting on my food. The server laughed. She was from Dominican Republic and was curious to see what I would answer. It seemed the origins of the iconic “tico-nica/nica-tico dish” had been a topic of discussion at the restaurant.





The food was amazing. The Gallo Pinto had a subtle burnt taste, as if it had been cooked on a wooden stove. After three years, we enjoyed the flavors of yuca and plantains. It was like being at home. We were almost done when the owner walked in. Loud enough for everyone to hear, the server said: “Hey, they are from Costa Rica!” With an unfriendly stare the owner responded “Ticos are not welcome here”. To this day I like to think that he was “joking”. I would go to that restaurant again, but next time, I’ll leave my cap in the car.



The Capoeira Angola trips

I miss Capoeira. It’s one of the many things that I left behind (on pause) when I moved to the States. In Costa Rica I used to be in a Capoeira group and it was a big part of my life. As far as I’m aware, there are no Capoeira Angola groups in Columbia. I was really excited when Auro found an Angola Study Group near STL. Timbalada and Fumaça meet every Thursday evening in the basement of a church. They teach, talk and live Capoeira. They share it with whomever wants to join them.

We drove to the church to meet the two welcoming Angoleiros. We practiced, played and talked past the scheduled time. Despite being thousands of kilometers away from home, it was comforting to find them and be able to see the resemblance with the Capoeira played in Costa Rica. Take away the color of the skin, the group name, and you’re left with human beings that enjoy Capoeira. We all talk the same talk, tell the same jokes and we mock the same things. We’re all the same.

The last time we met with Fumaça and Timbalada we spent the night in the city. We had to pick up my brother early the following day.



The Bro trip

My brother Pablo came to visit and our first stop was Saint Louis, Missouri. We shared a cozy, artful Airbnb near Lafayette Square. Have you ever booked a room so beautiful that you debated whether to go out or stay in? Well, that was the type of room we stayed in. We did go out; we were hungry.



There are two restaurants we would recommend for breakfast (Pablo approved). The first is Chris @ The Docket. You can’t go wrong with a place that serves pizza for breakfast and it's a few blocks away from the Gateway Arch. The second spot is Soulard Coffee Garden. A two story house with a patio turned restaurant welcomes you to a delicious meal and a friendly staff. The server even got my famous joke. When he approached us at the end of our meal, I handed him my empty plate and with a serious face I said: “I didn’t like it.” He started laughing nervously.





The Saint Louis Forest Park is like a small city within STL. We learned about Missouri in the State’s History Museum. We were happy to see a pre-Columbian gold piece from Costa Rica in the Art Museum. We even saw the stars projected to a dome at the James S. McDonnell Planetarium, where Auro fell as sleep for a few minutes of course. We ended the night having fun like children at the Saint Louis Science Center.



Anytime we’re in a new city you can be sure that we’ll be looking for a coffee spot. We want to find a coffee shop that gets us to stop every time we’re near, that place is Coma Coffee. Good coffee and good vibes.

To be continued…


   
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If you would like to learn more about Capoeira Angola

Capoeira Angola STL in Saint Louis, MO.

Capoeira Semente do Jogo da Angola in Costa Rica

Where to eat/go/coffee in STL

Fritanga

Chris’ @ the Docket

Soulard Coffee Garden

Coma Coffee

STL Forest Park

The Gateway Arch

Find out more about Missouri here