09.04.2003 (Thursday), 11:00 PM

Mercado Central

Hey Meester, you wanna buy a...

Day Seven of Bill and Jan in Costa Rica

Jan woke up feeling sick. Dizzy and (ahem) runny, she almost fainted after an early morning walk to say goodbye to some of the folks we met in Tamarindo. We made it to the airstrip to take the plane back to San Josť (Costa Rica). It was a bumpy ride because of the storm system still working its way through the area but we landed in one piece. Jan looked pretty green the whole way there.

Our mission today was to go to both the Serpentario and the Mercado Central. The former a reptile museum; the latter slice of San Josť's history. We jumped in a cab and took off. Halfway to downtown, it started to rain. Then the sky just opened up with a torrential downpour of mammoth proportions. By the time we reached the Serpentario, the streets' gutters were small creeks. We got out, got shelter and discovered that the Serpentario had closed six months ago...and so onto the Mercado Central. It was still pouring rain so we dodged into storefronts and overhangs but still were pretty soaked. Note to self: don't use water-based ink when writing simple phrases to use in communication...rain makes them a blotchy, unreadable mess.

The Mercado Central is exactly that: San Josť's Central Market. One square block of covered walkways, alleys, nooks and crannies with anything and everything you could even want. Fish and meat stores, vegetable stands, delicatessens, pet stores, trinket shops, leather goods, restaurants of all stripes, spice stores, candy stores, coffee stores. We spent hours wandering through the maze of shops buying and tasting a bit of this and that. Since it was close to dinner, we wanted to have dinner at a restaurant that served "comida tipica" (typical food): traditional Costa Rican fare.

Now, there is not anything extra spectacular about comida tipica as there is in French or Japanese cooking. It is just basic, fairly sensible but very tasty food. Lots of rice and beans and vegetables. We stopped at one of the many comida tipica restaurants in Mercado Central and had a feast for about $5. I had a "Casado de Pollo" (casado means "husband", which I take to mean that this is what a husband is supposed to be served...) and Jan had a "Sopa de Pollo" or chicken soup. My plate had rice, beans, plantains, a cabbage salad, spaghetti with a light sauce and a fried thigh and leg of chicken. Oh, and it was preceeded by a bowl of chicken conosomme. All of it was very delicious.

Since Jan was still recovering from some intestinal malady, she thought that a bowl of chicken soup would be the right thing to eat. Her image of the bowl of broth with some chicken meat pieces was shattered when a giant bowl of soup with full breast of chicken, a potato, a white radish, a half plantain, a fat carrot plus small plate of rice showed up. Even though she was still not feeling 100%, she devoured nearly all of the delicious ingredients. I had some too and it was fantastic.

We wandered around in and out of the Mercado, found some super dark roasted coffee and some other stuff to bring home. We're getting up early and heading home tomorrow.

Posted by wjc