|There’s a cafe at the front of the Supermercado Coopeatenas. We shopped on Wednesday and the store was busy.|
“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”
|Most likely this is a Common Tody Flycatcher we spotted sitting on the railing.|
Once we’re unpacked and settled, the first thing we must do in most countries is to go grocery shopping. I know this topic may not be of interest to some readers, so we ask those of you to bear with us.
Many travelers dine out for most of their meals when they’re on a vacation or holiday for a week or two. For tourists, there’s no point in spending money on kitchen staples and ingredients to make meals as we do each time we move to a new country.
|This is the Atenas Central Park located in the center of town.|
Each country offers its own challenges on availability of certain foodstuffs based on their local diet. We discovered that the largest market in town, Supermercado Coopeatenas, doesn’t carry several items we use on a regular basis. Why would they? They don’t necessarily cater to the whims and desires of foreigners when most visitors rarely grocery shop.
The expat population living in Atenas is:
“Out of a population of approximately 27,000, in the central valley an estimated 1,500 international expats live in Atenas full-time, most of whom are retired.”
|As we drove down the road toward the shops, we realized it is comparable to many towns in many places we’ve lived over these past years.|
For this small percentage (5.5%), it makes no sense for the grocery stores to carry products used by those from other countries. We wandered through the good-sized market at a loss in attempting to find many of the items on our list. We expected this. We’ll adapt.
As a result, as is often a necessity in many countries, we’ve had to adapt to the local food and culture. As an example, there was literally no real whole cream for our coffee. I decided to give up coffee while we’re here since I don’t care for it without cream. Tom is less picky and drinking it black.
|Driving along one of the main street in town.|
There are no choices of “natural” products that work for me such as coconut flour, almond flour, unsweetened coconut or ground flax seeds, items we often use for various recipes. Marian told us there’s a health food store in town that we’ll check out on Monday.
In the supermarket, there’s no deli, no Italian sausage, and only one option for bacon, a fatty variety we purchased anyway. We won’t be making many of our favorite dishes here such as our low carb, grain, starch and sugar free pizza and others.
The roasted chickens were small and overcooked, appearing to be covered in a sticky sweet sauce. Instead, we purchased two raw chickens cooking them in the modern oven with a suitable pan we were thrilled to find in the cupboards. We decided on roasted chicken one night and chicken salad the next (stuffed into an avocado for me). We’ll adapt.
|Motorbikes aren’t as prevalent here as they are in many other countries.|
A staple of my diet is sour cream (which I use to make salad dressing) which they carry but it’s runny consistency and taste entirely different than the sour cream we’ve purchased throughout the world. I mixed it with mayonnaise, seasoned it well and we’ve used it with hand shredded cabbage, diced carrots and celery to make coleslaw. That works here and has worked in many other countries when there’s no bagged cabbage.
As we’ve discovered in many countries that don’t consider a lettuce salad a basic side dish to lunch or dinner, the options were limited to small, wilted clumps that once cleaned and prepared would result in less than one small salad. We’ll see what we can find next Friday at the farmer’s market.
|Lukas, a surf and casual attire shop.|
Prior to shopping at the supermarket, we stopped at Goya, the appliance and furniture store to purchase a SIM card for my phone. We don’t need one for each of our phones since we’re always together. And, if I grocery shop with the driver leaving Tom behind, I can call him on the house phone.
We have no idea how much data or calling is available on the SIM card which the employee gave to us at no charge. Surely, we’ll find out soon enough when it runs out when we’ll add more.
|There are plenty of aisles in the market mostly with Costa Rican and imported processed foods and goods.|
The language barrier could be challenging for some. None of the locals speak English, not the lovely cleaner Isabel, who was here for seven hours yesterday (big house, lots to clean), not the taxi driver, not the employees in the shops, the banks, etc.
Today, I downloaded an English to Spanish translation app that when shaking the phone will allow me to speak in English to translate into spoken Spanish. This should do the trick, at least enough for us to get by. Here again, we’ll adapt.
|We weren’t able to find “organic” laundry soap. Instead, we chose a bottle of Tide.|
We’re still looking into sightseeing options. So far, the cost for about a three-hour outing is expensive at US $200 (CRC 114,917). At nearly US $70 (CRC 40,220.95) an hour for the two of us, we need to consider other options which may require renting a car for a period of time.
We’re loving this exquisite property, the scenery, the sounds and the wildlife easily finding ourselves bird watching throughout the day. The local people are friendly and somehow we manage to communicate. Adapting to a new environment is actually part of the joy we experience as we continue to travel the world. It stretches us, challenges us and opens up new worlds we never imagined we’d explore at this time in our lives.
May new worlds open up for YOU! Happy day!
Photo from one year ago today, August 5, 2016:
|Lots of motorbikes parked at the beach in Phuket Thailand. For more photos, please click here.|