The task seemed simple enough: Get to and from la feria in Coronado, northeast of San José, with the week’s fruits and vegetables for under ¢10,000 (about $20).
But given the length of the purchase list – about a dozen or so items — I was a tad fearful I might not have enough cash left for a taxi and would have to walk the one-hour return journey home to Montelimar.
It was my first serious attempt at the feria (open market) on my own and, after climbing out of the taxi, the swirling mass of stalls, vendors and shoppers appeared a jungle as I drew nearer.
The chaos soon gave way, though, to probably the most full-proof source of fresh local produce, which is only heightened in Coronado, which has fine tradition for farming.
They are also kind on the pocket. I weaved my way through the market, amassing all but one item, eggplant, on the list. I’d purchased half kilos of, among others, onions (¢150), tomatoes (¢125) and zucchini (¢200). I was not to be denied the full set, however, as a friendly stallholder pointed me in the direction of perhaps the only producer with any eggplant left.
In that moment, just as I had paid the vendor, one of my bags burst. A nearby friendly seller noticed and rescued the situation. I felt obliged to purchase a kilo of oranges.
The total bill barely broke ¢3,000 (about $6), which, together with another ¢3,200 (about $7) for transport, saw me well under my target.