Finding Food ‘n Stuff — By Jennifer Shipp
Central America Costa Rica North America

Finding Food ‘n Stuff — By Jennifer Shipp

Costa Rican Backyard
Our lovely backyard during a lovely rain in lovely Costa Rica.

Today was our first official day in Costa Rica. We woke up here, in our little vacation rental.  It is a Friday, so all of us had work to do. John programs for the web, I am a writer, and Lydian is doing classes through the University of Nebraska high school homeschool program. Yesterday we endured three flights to get here over the course of 10 hours: Denver to Dallas; Dallas to San Salvador, and San Salvador to San Jose, Costa Rica. This morning, it was rather refreshing to wake up and do something very mundane and normal, but in an entirely new environment.

There is a short checklist of things that must be done before we head off in more adventurous directions. Today’s goal was to locate food. Tomorrow, we’ll probably attempt to make a trip all the way to Walmart. Then, we need to use the public buses to get into San Jose from Alajuela where we’re located. After we accomplish those goals, we’ll be able to do anything, but I expect that several hours will be devoted to finding our way to Walmart and San Jose and back home over the next two days.

We found food today. Guillermo (our vacation rental’s property manager) cautioned us not to walk the roads because the traffic is dangerous, but we stayed on the shoulder and made our way down to an abastecedor or “convenience store”. This is a new word for me and apparently one that’s important in these parts because three people mentioned the abastecedores to us on our way to our rental last night. About half a mile down the hill is a little hole-in-the-wall store that stocks beans and rice and a few vegetables as well as meats.  The store is very basic, but amazingly carries everything from toothpaste to onions. The old man was very excited when we came in and extremely friendly to us. Our presence seemed to create quite a stir for a few minutes until they got used to us. We walked out of the store with a couple of bags of fresh produce, rice, and beans, and other items for a mere $16, which was nice.

On the walk, people were lounging in hammocks and hanging out in their backyards. Kids were playing. Women stood along the street chatting. A young boy on a bicycle wearing a soccer shirt spied Lydi and followed us halfway up the hill. She didn’t notice him, but John and I did. John walked back out into the street upon returning to our house and the boy promptly turned around and headed back down the hill.

The shower is cold, at least by my standards. I will survive the coldness, but Lydian and I agreed that shower-time is not going to be a time of relaxation while we’re here, but rather a time of trauma and endurance. John called the cold shower a “deal-breaker”, but this place is spotless and I’m not willing to walk out of here to some new, insect-infested, dirty hide-away, over a luke-warm shower. Maybe, instead, I’ll spend the next three months reflecting on how lucky we are in the United States to have heated water throughout the house that gets to 120 degrees or higher.

The woman next door spent most of the morning yelling passionately at someone in her family about something regarding laundry and beans in Spanish. Other neighbors played sappy Ranchero music that echoed into our backyard. By afternoon, the woman was all tuckered out, having probably exhausted herself completely after her tirade. Then the other neighbor’s kids jumped in the pool and played loudly for another 90 minutes. Around siesta-time, things became peaceful again. Then, it was nice to spend the afternoon listening to a lovely rain and the sounds of exotic birds…

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