The available fruits and vegetables in our local supermarket are just *not* up to snuff - definitely not what we are used to seeing in Costa Rica!
So we quizzed our landlady, and she said there was a Saturday Feria (Farmer's market) in Guadalupe (North of us about 1 mile) and a Sunday Feria in Zapote (South of us about 1 mile).
So today, I went to Guadalupe! I took my carrito (little rolling, fold-up metal cart), and caught the 10:30 Periferica bus (ruta L1) in front of the Outlet Mall in San Pedro (c295), and got off in Guadalupe - one of these days, I'll walk it, but I want to be sure of my route first :-).
I first went to the post office (across the street from the North-West corner of the park) and checked our mail - nothing yet!
Then I walked North about 2 blocks - I wandered around a bit, seeing a lot of people with carts (full and empty), so I knew I was close. But I finally had to ask La Señora con el carrito - I ended up following her (west 1 block) to the Feria :-D. It looked small at first, but then - turn a corner, and it explodes! It is *big!* It is probably a bit bigger than the Alajuela Feria - a bit more dense, and not covered.
It is hard at a feria to not buy before looking around - I compromised and bought some stuff; waited on others. By noon, I had a pretty full cart, and had tried two new fruits!
The "caimito" looks a bit like a fig on the outside.
A nice gentleman shared one with me - he broke it open like you would a fig, but then we ate the white-ish part around the seed (spit that out), and scraped the flesh (purple) off the skin with our teeth - we tossed the skin and seed on the ground. It left a sticky feeling on my mouth. The same gentleman took a leaf (from the same bin), and folded it so that the underside was exposed, and rubbed it across his lips. He found a leaf for me, and I did the same - the sticky stuff was rubbed right off! I was just picturing myself walking around with sticky purple lips...
After that, I guess I got a bit more brave - I saw what looked like small plums at another stall, and asked what they were. These fruits are called ciduela, and they do have a plum-like texture. I tried one - ate the skin but not the seed.
After the Feria, I went to a butcher that was recommended - the "Union" butcher, just South East of the church. It was *crowded!* There were at least a dozen lines, all about 4 deep! By this time, I only had about c5,000 left, so I was a bit nervous. But then I saw someone pay with a credit card - ahhh - gotta love plastic! Sooo many people were buying *huge* amounts of meat! bags and bags of it - you knew they were doing their weekly meat shopping. Well, so was I...
I got out of the butcher's in less that half an hour, and expected to walk back to San Pedro. But, as I was turning the corner, I saw the 12:37 Periferica bus (ruta L2), and thought I'd take a chance. The driver didn't bat an eye (well, not that I could see) when I lifted my carrito up the steps and handed him a c5,000 note. He made change, I got a seat - another chance to study the route home in relative comfort :-D.
On the way, I was sitting next to a mother and young child - he was a bit fussy, and I offered her one of the ciduelas for him. He liked it! Then it was gone, and he went back to fussy. Oh well - still, it felt good...
I was home, and putting away my haul by 1:00 - a very productive morning!
You can compare these to last year's prices in Alajuela: January 5, 2008, Farmer's Market. Note that the government released the inflation figures for last year - nearly 14%!
Feria ITEMS -
cost in colones (current rate is approximately c560 = $1; note that this is up 11% from last year)
weight is in kilograms:
chili dulce - 100 each; 250 / small bag
ciduela - 1200 / kilo
cheese (Turrialba) - 2800 / kilo
cheses (Turrialba, aged) - 3000 / kilo
cheese (smoked) ~ 3800 / kilo
lettuce - 200 / head
celery - 400 / small bunch
bananas - 350 / kilo
green beans (mature) - 400 / bag (1/2 kilo)
green beans (young) - 700 / bag (1/2 kilo)
pineapple (large, ripe) - 600 each
broccoli (finally, some that looked good!) - 1000 / kilo
carrots - 300 / bag (1/2 kilo)
mango - 1500 / kilo
tomato - ranged from 200 - 450 / kilo
avocado - 1000 / bag of 6
potatoes - 1400 / kilo
strawberries - ranged from 600 / bag (1/2 kilo) to 1500 / kilo
zucchini - ranged from 100 - 300 each
camote - 200 / bag (1/2 kilo)
tacaco (green grenade-looking thing, good in soups) - 200 / bag
jalapeños - 200 / bag of 5
caimito - 1500 / kilo
mandarin oranges - 200 / bag of 6
Tacaco picture (boil whole in soup, then peel. Discard the peel, Eat the flesh and seed):
Butcher items (these might be mixed up a bit):
beef steak (2) - 2240 / maybe half kilo
ground beef - 1450 / half kilo
bacon - 1920 / quarter kilo
pork chops (4) - 1540 / half kilo