Oh shopping! I’m not a big shopper and don’t really like shopping, but at times it’s necessary. Thursdays I help Luz vend at La Feria, an open air market, which is in San Isidro. This gives me the opportunity to use internet and shop if I want to. This past Thursday I thought I could get a couple of things before I head to the next farm.
After having lunch at a small restaurant I asked the server if she knew where I might be able to purchase a mosquito net. She said there was a shop up the street and added as I left that there might be one down the street. It was all rather a bit ambiguous. I thanked her and left. Headed up the street I searched for a place that looked like it might sell a mosquito net. Not seeing much at the end of the street I turned the corner and spotted some tents and fishing poles in a small store. This looks promising I thought. I asked if they had mosquito nets and they said no, but that the big store near the park might have them. Before heading to the other store, I looked around a bit and purchased a flashlight. I would have bought batteries for the flashlight there too, but they didn’t carry them. Hmm…how odd. The store has tents and fishing poles but no mosquito net. The store has flashlights but no batteries.
Still in search of a mosquito net and now batteries I headed toward the park looking for what was a “big store.” Nothing really looked like a big store, and I couldn’t remember the name of the place the cashier had given me. Not finding anything, I stopped in a clothing store and tried to ask if they knew where I could purchase a mosquito net. Now, I’ve been speaking Spanish for over a month, but the lady couldn’t seem to understand what I wanted. So, another gentleman who spoke a bit of English asked me what I was looking for. I know I speak enough Spanish to explain that I want a mosquito net, so I was a bit puzzled why they couldn’t understand me. Mosquito nets must not be common for Costa Ricans. Also, they don’t use the word “net” to describe it. The lady thought I was looking for a net that is put over a baby’s crib. The gentleman suggested I could try the store at the corner.
Here was a store that looked like it mostly carried clothing. I asked the sales lady if they had mosquito nets. She took me to the corner of the store to look for one. They only seemed to have one but it was way on the top shelf, and I couldn’t see what it looked like. I didn’t want her to have to get a ladder, so I just thanked her and left.
I walked around a bit more looking in shop doors and windows. The layout of stores and the things they carried in them all seemed arbitrary to me. Giving up on finding a mosquito net for the moment I went into a store looking for a towel and batteries. This store carried a variety of Christmas decorations and home goods. They had dish towels, curtains, bedding, but no bath towels. Seriously who organizes these stores?
Making my way back toward La Feria, I stopped in another store that appeared to have tools. I walked around for about two minutes realizing they didn’t have batteries. How convenient, a store with tools but no batteries.
By this time I had been walking in and out of stores for about an hour. I headed back to La Feria. I purchased batteries at a small grocery store connected to La Feria.
Memo with two other volunteers came a little later to join Luz and me. I went with Memo to purchase a mosquito net. We walked into a fabric store. There they had two types of mosquito nets: single or double. I purchased the smaller version for about $12. Had I purchased this in the United States I know there would have been at least five different versions to choose from, but I really had no other choice. So, a word of advice, if you know you may need a mosquito net, but it in advance.
Still, I have to admit that despite the difficulty I had in finding a mosquito net, flashlight, and batteries, I got to see a lot of San Isidro and get a sense of what shopping is like in Costa Rica. It was my little adventure for the day.