Saturday, August 21, 2010

A tale of two markets

Ask anyone who's visited Costa Rica what they liked and they'll regale you with stories of rain forests, tropical birds, pristine beaches and zip lines. Food courts? They don't make the tourist route quite as often. Not being tourists in this place, we hopped in one of our favorite red taxis today to make a quick trip down to the Mutiplaza Escazu.

Two floors of luxury shopping

Boasting over 500 stores, this mall sets the pace for western commercialism here in Costa Rica! Cartier, Hugo Boss, The North Face, and and Timberland are just a few of the big names we passed on the way to our two main destinations today: the pet store and the food court.

Danna rubs noses with a feline friend

As you can probably imagine in a place like this, the food court is filled with exotic, Costa Rican restaurants. Like MacDonalds. And Taco Bell. And Pizza Hut.

Fast food - Costa Rican Style

Two cajitas felices ("happy boxes" = happy meals) and a Taco Bell meal in hand, we headed to an empty table and chowed down on junk food that looked and tasted just like the stuff in the US. OK - the happy meal boxes were in Spanish... but apart from that, we could have been eating the processed, frozen, reheated and internationally uniform meals in the Quail Springs mall in Oklahoma City! As a point of reference - the "Happy Meal Economic Index" here is about $4.

Donuts? Fashion? Ride-on toys? Multiplaza Mall is your kind of place!

Just down the road from our house though, is a very different kind of market. Open every Saturday morning, the Escazu Feria (Farmer's Market) is the place to go for fresh produce, fruit, and a much less "developed" shopping experience.

A street in the center of Escazu turns into a weekly farmer's market

This is the kind of market I grew up around. A busy pedestrian street packed with temporary stalls. Shoppers wandering from stall to stall to find the freshest veggies or best deal. Dogs playing in the gutters. There didn't seem to be much haggling here - prices were scribbled on handmade signs, and that was that.

Kyler and Danna check out some HUGE bananas!

This market wasn't the most fun for the kids... especially on a hot morning. But the copos (shaved ice with flavored syrup dumped on top) made the trip worth it!

Ice + Flavored syrup = Copos

And if you're really feeling energetic, you can join the guys on the basketball court next to the market for a quick game up pickup hoops.

Wanna shop? High-class or low-class, San Jose's got you covered. And those rain forests and beaches? We'll get there eventually!


Sara said...

If you and Erin like the ferias then I think you should check out the one in Pavas - everyone says they're awesome.

hannah said...

I've been to that mall! It was a lifesaver for our group of confused American high schoolers who'd left the country for the first time - sometimes you just need a fake taco to make you feel at home.

I'm loving the photos, keep it up!