Welcome to San Isidro, the hub for everything ‘shopping-wise’ you may need done in western Costa Rica. 4 hours from San Jose, it’s also known as Perez Feledon and brings Tico and Gringo people together for maintenance, shopping, and food.
Or, if you live in the middle of nowhere like I do (at the Farm of Life), it’s the dreaded yet awaited once-a-week town day that affords the opportunity to hit up countless Ropa Americanos (excess clothes from American Goodwill), the Gringo corner in the market (where delectable goodies which are vegan, organic, and perhaps a little *ahem* special), or your next-best-thing to Wal-Mart kiddie stores (which sell lots of shiny, cheap appliances and tools, but alas, there’s nowhere else to get the stuff).
It’s also the location where most health-conscious foodies flock to on Thursdays and Fridays, a ferria market busting with locally grown, mostly organic produce! This is the part I always look forward to.
The mangoes are as big as two hands, rambutans are abundant, fun and flirty Tico men give me free fruit, and of course – I always get to catch up and see other friends that have moved to this area from all over the world. (Mainly the States).
Organic greens, vegetables, and fruit. My version of heaven.
Did I mention how CHEAP it is? A bag of organic greens is about $1, a cucumber about 50 cents, and an avocado 50 cents to a dollar. My favorite food – Heart of Palm in it’s raw state – is a measly 60 cents for a bag that keeps me full for 3 hours.
Here this lovely man juices fresh sugarcane and can mix it with freshly-squeezed orange juice… about $1 and so yummy!
Below, a beautiful fruit carving in a papaya!
The Gringo corner is where it’s at in my opinion. You’re bound to get into an interesting conversation with a traveler, hug about five people, get giggly about some gluten-free brownies or health-food store contraband (Nutritional Yeast, anyone?) and make a delightful dent in your day.
San Isidro itself is actually a very nice town. I missed getting some of the beautiful aspect of it, mainly the church (which it seems all Latin American towns are centered around) and grid-like structure of shops and stores.
I ventured around with some of my friends and followed them into Mario’s pizza shop – a lovely friend and feature of an upcoming article based on Westernization of indigenous Tico culture and food.
He’s a Venice, Italy native who makes the best pizza in or outside of the US, I’m told. I’ll stick with my fruit and veggie wraps.
We gallantly walk around the town some more; diesel exhausts happily fills one’s nostrils, rambunctiously noisy cars blare Spanish advertisements and radio announcements, and shoppers in tightly clad clothing waddle by on stilettos.
Unfortunately it’s even common to see poorly housed critters in cages like this. A recently nabbed puppy and kitten were being pushed on us for free (Tico’s are notorious for poorly treating animals) and I sadly had to say no…. In Latin American countries, you get used to seeing malnourished dogs, maybe feed them some scraps, and pray someone loving will come along and save them.
But the day continued to unfold as we met at the little Café Delicias, had a sugar-free fresh fruit smoothie, and waited to drive back to the Farm after an exhausting/interesting day.
This is San Isidro: curious, infectious, and noisy, but it holds an interesting perspective in how the Costa Rican natives are growing as a second world culture. Still full of the most loving people I’ve so far met, it has it’s good points as well.
Just stray away from the shiny, plastic appliances and too-tight clothes and you’ll be okay.
Eat Fruit, Travel Healthy, Be Love!