Mercado Central

This is a city scene from San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, right in front of the entrance to the Central Market. The crowd are a real mix of locals and tourists, as were the visitors inside the Market. San Jose feels like any other modern city in Latin America but as you enter the Mercado Central you are taken back in time.

Inside I was transported back to the souks of Cairo. There was a smell of spices and produce yet it was very clean. Grocers, clothes shops, spice stalls, florists fish sellers and butchers. What a sensory treat! Tourist shops sold handicrafts but most of the stalls were for locals getting their daily shopping. As a child, I went shopping with Nana to similar stores where the local produce was in crates with handwritten price tickets. I loved visiting the farmer’s stall just outside Rutherglen but was less keen on the chickens with all their feathers on. Nana plucked the feathers in the bath and re-stuffed our old pillows. That’s sustainability, old style.

Is there anything more joyful than a brightly painted mural? This one had a volcano, waterfall, parrots and toucans – perfectly illustrating the essence of Costa Rica.

This store is 10 years older than me…wow! The sign says that it has been selling bulk products since 1950. Notice that the customer and the assistant are both wearing masks.

A tourist shop to lure us in. We briefly looked around a couple of them but they were tight (for people with big cameras and rucksacks). In any case, I have already Swedish Death Cleaned the house and there is no room for any more trinkets. We brought back delicious creamy fudge stuffed with glace fruits.

This is my favorite scene in the market. A beautiful statue of Jesus right next to the butcher’s shop. I thoroughly approve of faith being part of one’s daily life. As much as I love beautifully decorated churches, they keep faith in a separate place. Costa Ricans have many public works of art which I will display in a future post (and a cathedral because I can’t resist).

The visit to the market made me giddy with happiness. It brought back memories, gave me new ones to reflect on and gave a genuine feel for San Jose’s inhabitants.


Almost Tropical Autumn

Technically, we live in the sub-tropics in the Piney Wood ecosystem, Texas.  I think I prefer Almost Tropical and to illustrate – we go from Hot as Hades to Freeze your Ass off.  Yesterday a cold front came in and unusually we have some autumnal foliage.  Most years a hurricane or storm system blows off the leaves before they can change color.

This is my walking path just at the end of my ‘hood’.  It is so lovely at this time of year with less sunscreen/warm sweaters needed.  You can always tell the recent snowbirds.  They wear shorts all year round and look at my layered sweaters with disbelief.  Having to communicate or at least wave to everyone on the walking path also causes them some consternation.  Bless their hearts…

Usually this display of copper and gold would warm my heart but the Grinch has stolen it.  My depression has been getting better but the time change has messed with my brain.  For the last few months the driving in our town had improved after an obvious police/trooper/constable presence.  Even my ice cold heart was warmed by seeing jackasses in trucks/Mercedes getting tickets or at least a scolding.  On Wednesday I had to return to my trusty physiotherapist because my right arm is sore and numb.  In route back home, I encountered a weaver in a truck.  Three lanes of traffic, going about 50 mph, and yet he felt he could get three cars ahead by weaving in and out of traffic dangerously. He swerved right in front of me and something broke in my brain.  To preface this, honking your horn is almost unheard of down here.  I put my hand on the horn and left it there.  All the lanes seemed to back away from me and I was left in a solitary bubble of road rage.  The next day the police were back and schadenfreude overtook me as I watched car after car getting booked.

Now I am less sore and grumpy, the Grinch has retreated and I am enjoying the autumnal leaves once more.  I even went to the mall to get my Nordstom’s coffee and enjoyed the repartee with the Israeli soap sellers.  Sometimes it drives me crazy and I feel like I have never left the souk.  Can someone tell me how to say, “Stop bothering me” in Hebrew?  Nothing too rude…their employers probably make them use persistent sale tactics.

Northerners laugh at us when we complain about almost freezing temperatures but we are acclimated to a long summer of hot and steamy.  It is usually in the high 90’s but the humidity shoots up the heat index.  When the first cold front arrived the temperature shot down by about 50 degrees.  Today it is bloody freezing and the heating isn’t working – eek!  I phoned our contractor in a panic and they are coming out in an hour even though it is Saturday.  My neurological issues and low blood pressure makes me feel really unwell when I am cold.  The gas fire is on and the space heater, too.

The other week I spotted something strange and big in the garden.  I racked my brain until I realized it was an old Great Horned Owl nest which had collapsed – it was about 3 feet across.  They usually steal someone’s else’s but it was huge and very nicely lined with a plastic grocery bag and pine needles.  Everyone is recycling these days. 🦉