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Monday, December 04, 2006

Shopping Q & A

Questions and Answers on Shopping: "Can you find what you need, or are some things tough to locate?" For the most part, if you are looking for general items you can find what you need. If you shop at grocery stores like Auto Mercado and superstores like Hiper-Mas, then you won't have any problems finding most grocery items from the states. There are some things that are difficult to locate, especially if you are picky about hygiene items, such as certain brands of body wash, shampoo, feminine products, etc. For example, I've made a list of things to buy in the states over Christmas, including contact solution (very expensive here), Febreeze, 'Shout' pre-treater, binder clips, and a refill for my Sonicare toothbrush. Everything else, I've been able to find and it has been decently priced. If you have questions about specific items, I can try to help you out with that, too.

"Anything you wish you'd brought with you, rather than try to buy in CR?" If you have a good umbrella, bring it. Rainy season is the worst without a solid umbrella, and they go for quite a pretty penny down here. Also, like noted above, bring extra contact solution. Besides that, the only things I can think of are electronics. Bring any televisions, small appliances, computers, cameras, printers, etc. that you'll want. They are MUCH more expensive down here. If you don't want to lug some of those bigger pieces down, then I would keep an eye on Craig's List CR and classifieds in the newspapers that might list some used items that are up for sale.

"Difficulties due to language differences? " No problem there as long as you have a bit of Spanish to work with. And I would suggest brushing up on learning numbers before coming down, because that makes shopping at the Saturday fresh food market much easier. For the other stores, as long as you enter the store and say 'Buenas,' (casual greeting) and say gracias when you're checking out, you're good to go. We've also found that in Costa Rica the store-workers like to follow you around the store while you're browsing, but they're just trying to help, so if you're patient and polite they will eventually leave you to your shopping.

"Do you tend to patronize small shops and street markets, or stick to the bigger, Wal-Mart-ish stores? " A little bit of both. We do our big grocery shopping trips usually at Hiper-Mas (CR's Wal-Mart), due to the convenience and price, but we do our weekly shopping for fruits and vegetables every Saturday morning at Heredia's fresh food market. Almost every town has one at least once a week, and the produce is so fresh at about a third of the price you'd pay in any store. Besides that, we haven't done much shopping at all, except for buying some office supplies at a local office shop. The small shops are great and they have a lot to offer, but if you're going for one big trip per week, I would recommend going to Hiper-Mas.