Monday, October 17, 2011

Trip to Dallas, BRIT Event!

Last spring, while here in Costa Rica attending the IPED Language school in Heredia, Richard Henderson, an attorney from Fort Worth Texas came to The Toucan Rescue Ranch for a tour! We began talking afterward, his family was coming down to visit him and he wanted to return with them. A few weeks later, Richard, his tico host family and his family from texas, all came up to the Ranch to tour. Richard translated the tour into spanish while I spoke in english!

A few months later he contacted me to see if we would be willing to donate 3 nights stay in our Bed and Breakfast, to an auction dear to his heart, BRIT, Botanical Research Institute of Texas. ( He and his wife Victoria (also an attorney), are wine experts and they have a lovely house just outside of Fort Worth with a large wine cellar! They were donating several wines from their private collection for the auction, a gala fund raiser for BRIT. Richard, had also met Steve Aronson, owner and developer of Cafe Britt here in Costa Rica, and Steve was donating a private dinner by BRITT's famous chef, including some wine from Richard's collection. ( and their environmental organization So, he now had a packet for Costa Rica, dine at Cafe Britt, and stay at the Toucan Rescue Ranch, which was offered for auction to benefit BRIT in Fort Worth Texas this last week. We were all invited to go up to Texas, be guests at Steve and Victoria's house,
tour the Botanical Research Institute and attend the gala dinner, the Fete du Vin.

From the moment we arrived Richard treated us like family, welcoming us into his home, his sons gave up their rooms for several nights and Victoria assisted us with everything we needed for the big event!

Richard not only loves wine, he also loves food, and cooked incredible gourmet meals for three days in a row! It was very relaxing sitting out on their porch watching deer cruise by...I was exhausted from all the sleepless nights with baby Twili, so having Twili and Pokey (the porcupine) staying with Janet the vet I knew everything was fine and could get some rest and sleep!

Friday afternoon we arrived in Texas and friday night the guys found the perfect bottle of wine to celebrate with! A bottle from 1863....I of course said, please don't waste any of this precious liquid on me, I just took a sip, since all alcohol puts me right to sleep! But they all enjoyed a great evening with wines and ports from the 1800's.
We had a three course meal with a vegetarian version for me!! very thoughtful, and delicious.

Richard, Jorge and Steve, they taught Jorge how to sniff and swirl the wine! (well, he copied them!!)

The next morning we visited BRIT, and that afternoon the Japanese gardens.

Jorge and Dr. Sohmer
The Botanical Research Institute of Texas has a new incredible building, their new headquarters has been awarded the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification by the US Green Building Council. It boasts a living roof, solar panels, use of geothermal energy...and waterless toilets! (not exactly sure how this functions, but it does!) Their goal is to catalog every plant in the world, and are making good progress. We met and toured the facility with Dr. Sohmer, who told us about his collecting expeditions to various remote parts of the world. The oldest plant on record is from 1791. We were able to understand the importance of collecting and preserving these specimens and view the large warehouse full of crates there, the samples are kept at cool temperatures in vaults.

They have a collection of very old books, some of the first records of medicinal plants, and they are also dedicated to education. They have a reading area for school children, use puppets to teach and classrooms that are light filled and interesting. The floor in the building is made out of recycled tennis shoes!

Richard and his family have been supporters of BRIT for some time now, and he and Dr. Sohmer actually met in Costa everything was ready for the Gala dinner at the Fort Worth club, and auction.

Richard honored his scottish heritage by wearing the traditional kilt! The slide at the auction, one of Richard and Victoria's friends bid on the CR packet and will be traveling to visit us in Jan. The guests at our table were friends of Richard and Victoria, and there was also a couple from Costa Rica/Texas who we met, and have plans to see each other again when they visit!! Plus Steve Aronson from Cafe Britt and his son, Benjamin who also flew in for the event. I joked that we had to come to Texas to meet Steve and his son from Costa Rica!

The Fete du Vin, also honored Parducci Wine with their International Award of Excellence in Sustainable Winegrowing. ( I was able to meet Tim Thornhill of Parducci wines in Mendocino California, who not only is of course a wine enthusiast, but he also loves owls!! So, I will be sending him some owl photos soon!

We had a wonderful time at the dinner, were happy to be a part of the BRIT event, and we also met some other friends of Richard and Victorias who invited us out to their ranch the next day. They also invited us to a fantastic dinner at a great seafood restaurant.

Overall it was a great weekend, and we were able to meet so many interesting people.
Breakfast the next morning! Gourmet biscuits and gravy, Texas style.

Then we were off to The Dallas World Aquarium and Zoo, in downtown Dallas. They hosted a nice lunch and tour for Richard of their facilities. The Dallas World Aquarium and zoo, is completely privately owned, Daryl Richardson has one of the largest toucan collections in the world, and he is always willing to let us stay with him a few days, and see all the animals and birds in his collection, and most importantly, meet with his veterinarian, Dr. Chris Bonar who is very helpful with all my difficult cases!

My favorite, the flamingo pool, the giant river otters, and the little marmosets !

Back at home with Twili, who has grown a tiny bit!, and horrible weather. Since we have been home there has been nothing but wind, rain and fog. Much of Costa Rica is flooded with people in shelters, we are lucky, as we are higher up in the mountains, but all the outside birds are sick of the cold rain, and it is now affecting all of us! Hopefully the sun will come out soon!

Twili, who loves to keep me up all night !

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