Saturday, September 4, 2010

Changing Ferias?

For several months, I have been reluctant to go to the Feria (farmer's market), and today, it finally hit me why!

When we lived in the "other apartment" in San Pedro, it was pretty convenient to go to Guadalupe - I walked a couple of blocks, caught the bus, walked a couple more blocks, shopped, had a quick lunch in the park, and usually had a pleasant walk home through UCR with my cart full of groceries.

Our "new apartment" in San Pedro is still about the same distance to the Guadalupe Feria. However, getting there and back is just not so straightforward. This is the sort of thing that shouldn't make a difference, but does! For some reason, I just hate the thought of having to go a couple of blocks out of my way, or reversing myself when I know my house is "just a block over that way."

To get to the Feria now, I either:
A) take the Escalante bus East to La Antigua Aduana, then catch a Guadalupe bus North and West, or
B) walk 35-45 minutes, taking the pedestrian bridge (with stairs) across the circunvalación

The return is more frustrating:
A) walk a different route (full cart, so no stairs please!), and back-tracking a couple of blocks, or
B) buy a lot less and take the reverse bus route (no cart on the bus, please), or
C) use a taxi

On weekends, the Escalante bus only comes every half hour, and even at the best of times, it is not very reliable (unlike every other bus I have ever used here).

During school, I went on a Feria hiatus :), and simply picked up a few items each day after school. That worked well enough, but put a strain on my back (no cart), and made a long day even looonger.

I have decided that there are several things I can get at my local grocery store at the same quality as the Feria - things like potatoes, onions, and carrots (all heavy, by the way). The price is not significantly different, and I can get them as I need them (instead of waiting until Saturday). And I can use my cart! It is only certain fruits and vegetables that are either poor quality or very over-priced that I should get at the Feria.

So today, I tried something different! I took the bus into San José, walked 2 blocks to Mercado Borbon, shopped around, and took the bus back - all told, I was gone less than 2 hours, and only had a short walk. This would be a lot shorter during the week, with less waiting-for-the-bus time (and Mercado Borbon isn't open only on Saturdays!). I did a quick informal survey, since I only had a short list of must-haves. I will have to spend some real time looking around soon for particular items. However, for what I did see, the prices and quality were comparable to the Feria.

BTW - earlier, I did a quick run-through of the San José Mercado Central - it was over-priced and had succumbed to tourism. Not worth it...


Paul M. said...

Great post JUlie, but could you maybe remark a bit more on Mercado Borbón? The selection there... I remember it was primarily fruits & veggies, yes? Is it mostly bulk or can one buy two or three tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.? Are there significantly reduced prices for buying in bulk? Is the selection wide? Did you see any cooking pots, utensils, or kitchen stuff there?

Wish I were closer to Borbón but being in Alajuela without a car makes it an unlikely option.

Sorry to hear you say that the Mercado Central has been 'perverted' to gringo prices. [ sigh ]

Is the famous booth (the oldest in the Mercado Ceentral) still there and selling their clove ice cream? it is not far inside the SE corner entrance to the market.


Julie said...

thanks Paul, and thanks for the questions - I have many of the same ones, and intend to check the mercado again, with greater scrutiny :-)
and I'll do another post on the results.
The mercado is like a feria - you can buy by item, not necessarily by bulk - some places will charge by weight, and some by item.
I did see a stall that had bathroom/cleaning items. Didn't see utensils there, but there might be a booth with these that I missed.
I completely skipped Mercado Central this time, so can't say anything about booths there.
However, to get to Borbon from Alajuela by bus:
- Get off the Alajuela/SJ bus on Paseo Colón. Walk South (towards ARCR) 1 block.
- Catch the Ruta 2 Sabana Cementerio bus. It will go to the National Gymnasium, then turn East again, stay on it past the Caja, then it will turn North, then West. Stay on it till it passes the tall Banco Nacional. The next stop will be at Mercado Borbon.
To return:
- You could take a taxi back to the Alajuela terminus. or
- get back on the Sabana Cementerio bus
- The stop after the Pavas/Coca-cola area, get off (in front of a green building)
- walk North 1 block, cross the street, look for "La Estrada" market
- catch the Alajuela parando bus there