Long Hair Memories

Today’s post talks about the unexpected connection between making a cake topper for Long Hair Princess Rapunzel and my childhood memories at the beach… For the longer version of this tale, click on the “plus sign” + below.

[toggle heading=”Click HERE to read the full story of El Rancho Viejo”]

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hen I was little, my family had a house by the beach in the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, were I grew up.

It was a special place as my father built the house out of his own genius mind: with no formal instruction in engineering and no Google to research DIY projects (we are talking about early 80’s here!) It still amazes me the things that my father was able to accomplish just out of his desire of learning new skills and trying new techniques.
The floor plans of this house were washed away by the water, a few hours after he drew them on the beach. He and 2 or 3 men would gather, discuss the approach for that particular day, and then head back to the construction site (less than a mile from the beach) and work, work, work. There was no electricity, no drinking water, no telephone (land or cell lines), and making the trip there each weekend would take us at least six hours because the roads (or lack of them) were barely traced on the map. Today you can commute to that beach house in only an hour and a half! Perhaps even less, now that a new highway is available to the public and takes you to the Pacific coast in 60 minutes! The idea of having pizza delivered to that beach-jungle or bringing ice cream from the city without melting sounded so futuristic in my father’s dreams!

Anyhow, this is where I spent my childhood, and as years passed by, the empty lot he first discovered in the late 70’s turned into a peaceful oasis, with beautiful fruit trees and flower beds, and a swimming pool where I floated my childhood away until turning into a human raisin!

My father continued adding structures to the property and that brings me to this Long Hair Memories story today: Putting the roof on one of the little cabanas we had near the house: El Rancho Viejo.

Originally built as an open storage unit, El Rancho Viejo later evolved into changing rooms, pool equipment unit, and outdoor entertaining center with its own built-in grill, sitting bench, and even a brick oven where my father would bake his made-from-scratch pizza!

But, back to its early days, I remember the construction of El Rancho Viejo, with terracotta roofing tiles stacked on the side and the geometric “spider web” traveling from post to post on this humble squared structure, waiting for the tiles to be installed… I never climbed to the roof, but I remember helping passing terracotta tiles to my brother in the ladder, and watching him hand the fragile pieces to our father who at that point seemed to me like some mythological creature: half human-half monkey, hanging from the wooden structure and installing tiles with great skill: starting with the first row at the bottom, and adding a shorter row, and another, and another one… all the way to the top, where the rows were now one-tile long!



[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n September of 2011, I was asked to make a challenging cake topper: the Rapunzel tower. Although an intricate project, I embraced it with great spirits! I studied the structure (based on the proposal from Disney movie “Entangled”) and tried to replicate the number of columns and windows on it. I sketched the hinges on the doors with all their medieval charm, and gave special attention to the details on the roof… terracotta tiles! As I worked on this project, I couldn’t help to think about the tiles of El Rancho Viejo (See story above) … while laying down the bottom row… then the second one, and a third one… Although I had royal icing instead of concrete, and sugar paste tiles instead of terracotta, it was the same principle! Just like my father did, almost 30 years ago at our beach house, here I was laying tiles, following his steps!

The Rapunzel tower will always have a SWEET special place in my heart as it brings memories of my father, putting all his effort on that roof and many other projects, working as a self-taught architect, always eager to learn new techniques, and searching for solutions to the next challenge. Then I wonder where did I get this habit of researching tutorials whenever I need to learn something new on Photoshop, or have a cake project that involves a new technique?… But, unlike my father, I have Google and YouTube! And, even Disney movies! So, the more merit to him, for being an example of accomplishment, for making his dreams come true out of the sand on the beach… and teaching me to do the same along the way!


In memory of my father who passed away in November of 2011. I am grateful for having had the opportunity of sharing with him the following pictures, and thanking him in person for teaching me how to lay roof tiles… if only on a cake!


Rapunzel Tower - Cake Topper all details made out of sugar paste (fondant)

Details on the back of the tower: hinges and windows hand painted with edible food color