To Market, to Market: San Isidro CR

There’s a wonderful market in San Isidro on Thursdays. It houses rows and rows of fruits and vegetables, a “gringo corner” full of baked goods and organics like Tom’s toothpaste, and a food stand that serves some of the best ceviche in Costa Rica.

Preparing for the afternoon market run, I had no idea what an epic trip it would be. I went with Rami and Hen, our Israeli neighbors and friends on the farm. Zoe, a Canadian volunteer, also came, and this dude named Charlie from Dallas.

A word about Charlie: he has shoulder length brown hair, a bum foot and a bit of a swagger, and he’s living off unemployment for his injury. He’s got a fair amount of douchiness about him. He told Zoe he was polyamorous back in Dallas. That is, he has two girlfriends who know of each other’s existence. He’s camping at the farm and is a friend of an expat called, “Boarhead,” who owns a house and is a member here. I have yet to ask Boardhead how he got that nickname.

My best guess is that somebody said, “No no no, you’re not just pig-headed. You’re more than that. You’re like a bigger, more aggressive, tusked version of a pig. You’re boar-headed.”

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that they met at Burning Man.

The three of us piled into the backseat of Rami and Hen’s car. About 15 minutes into our journey, we suddenly slow to a stop for a mudslide clean up crew. This happens fairly often here, and you just have to wait. It could be for 20, 30, or 40 minutes.  I guess sometimes ticos bring their food and beverage stands and wheel them up and down the road, selling you snacks and refreshments as you wait. Never miss a business opportunity.

Unfortunately, we were on the long end of the waiting spectrum. I actually had to journey into the jungle to pop a squat and not wiggle all the way to market. On my way back I saw that Charlie opened a bottle of cheap rum and has a lemon to go with it. He’s tipping back large shots and chasing it with lemon. A short while later he announces his lips are burning from eating the lemon. No one knew how to respond to that.

We finally get moving again.  Just getting around town and parking takes at least 20 minutes. It’s a madhouse. There’s some sort of parade set up happening, and Christmas shoppers galore.

Every color of the rainbow makes an appearance at market. In the gringo corner there was everything from special brownies to a German man selling Chai tea and German cakes (made in Costa Rica). There were many gourmet chocolate makers with plenty of samples. Zoe bought a bar with dark chocolate and peanut butter. I bought a plum and munched it while I looked for photo ops.

We were supposed to meet Rami and Hen back at the car at 4 p.m. It was well after 4 when we reconvened. Charlie bought a “special” brownie and was sharing it with strangers. He had this little jar of coconut oil infused with marijuana. He said it was frozen, but he normally sips it in the morning instead of smoking. It gets him high all day. Zoe and I were exchanging looks like, “Who is this guy?”

The German, cake-selling guy was hitting on Zoe and then he made this young tico come and practice his English with us. The guy was so shy; it was hard for him to converse with us at all and shortly after, “Hello. What’s your name?” It became painfully awkward.

Charlie was supposed to take the bus from the market to Dominical and the beach, since he booked a serfing lesson for the following day. Unfortunately, he forgot his phone back at the farm. He was now riding back with us and we had to wait while he ran errands. Rami’s trying to find a place where he can safely ship his computer from Israel to here, but he speaks no Spanish. The first place we go, the person that’s in charge of shipping is done for the day. We’re walking back to the car when they remember a UPS place, so we go there.

Zoe and I are both pretty tired at this point and it’s getting on 5 p.m. After they emerged victorious from the UPS place, we went to the second-hand store, so that Hen could pick up fleeces to make Christmas presents. Then back to the car, back into traffic, back to the market to pick up Charlie.

We were finally ready to head back to Fuente Verde when the car stalled. We had to roll the car back down the hill we parked on and then roll it forward to start it. Got it started, we begin driving out of town, and it stalled again. Luckily, this time it happened on a downhill and we started it again. At this point, we’re feeling a little hesitant about driving this car home, especially considering the condition of the road down to Fuente. We decide to go back to market, drop our groceries off with David and Tiffany (who had shopped for the Christmas party they are hosting here) and take a cab.

It’s 6:30 and we’re sitting at the market, waiting for David, who was getting his car fixed while Tiffany shopped.

David finally comes, we load up the car, and it’s decided that Zoe and I will ride with David and Tiffany home. Then we’ve got to stop at the supermarket and get more food for the party.

Zoe and I splurge on some wine in a box, go back to the car and sip it there. We cheers our box wine to our epic market day.



  1. Hey I found you via Matador. Who are Rami and Hen? I’m an Israeli currently in Costa Rica looking for cool opportunities – are you Wwoofing with them?


    – Amir

    • Hello Amir,

      Rami and Hen were just visitors to our farm, Fuente Verde. They stayed a few weeks at their friend’s house (a member/part owner of the farm) and have now moved on with their travels. This is not a WWOOF-ing gig, but very similar. It is work/exchange, but the farm charges volunteers in addition ($14 a day).

      Good luck and safe travels!

  2. Brittany,
    My wife and I are “60 something today” and heading to Costa Rica soon for our retirement. I was amused by your story and wanted to let you know how much I appreciated it.

    • George,
      Congrats on your retirement, what a fabulous place to spend it. Enjoy that crazy jungle, so much mountain and ocean loveliness is hard to beat. And of course enjoy the Farmer’s Markets 🙂 Best of luck and take care!

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