I’m not your typical girl that likes to go shopping. But in Costa Rica, the shopping experience is taken to a whole other level.
Like paying $8 (not including tax) for two rolls of Seventh Generation paper towels. Or $9 for a cheap can opener. Or buying a plastic colander, in the kitchen section, and then getting it home and it has a sticker on the bottom that says: “Not Touch With Food”.
I did bring a lot of my own kitchen supplies but there were some things that I didn’t bring, thinking I’d be able to easily find them and they wouldn’t be too expensive. I was really wrong there. I’m just so used to going into stores and having a huge selection to choose from. Finding pots and pans was a challenge. If the stores carried them, they usually only had really cheap ones (that probably wouldn’t last long and I also fear what they’re made out of) or they only had one type to choose from. And then there is the cost. There was a cheap set for $200. I say cheap because I could tell they were poorly made but they still cost $200 for 3 pots and 2 pans. Mixing bowls has also been a nightmare to find. I bought two but they’re so cheaply made that I don’t know how long they’ll last and just like the pots and pans, the cost wasn’t cheap!
Pretty much any dry food needs to be stored in containers but I have yet to find any that aren’t plastic and flimsy. I brought a really pretty ceramic container for salt from home but I’m learning that salt must be stored in an airtight container. So I’ll have to find a reuse for the ceramic container. Right now, it just looks pretty on the shelf.
One interesting aspect of shopping here is that I was told by several different people to negotiate on the price. These stores are like mini (really mini) versions of a Target but my friends told me to ask for a discount if I purchased multiple items. I only got 5% off because I was using my credit card but if I had brought cash, they probably would have offered more.
Another strange part about the shopping experience in Costa Rica is you’re followed around by a store associate. I’m told it’s not because they think you’re going to steal something, it’s more about giving a “concierge” type service. Like just in case you have any questions, they’re there to help you. I don’t really like it. I just want to shop in peace and pick up the items I need. Again, it’s not like there’s a big selection to choose from so there aren’t that many questions a person could possibly have.
I ended up buying a lot of things at the Automercado (grocery store) which cost me a fortune but there was honestly a better selection to choose from there. It sounds so strange to say but I suppose the Automercado is catering to a certain clientele (people who can afford their outrageous prices) and they know what we’re looking for. Technically, I can’t afford their prices but I’d prefer to be broke with quality products than buy cheap products that are going to break quickly.
I haven’t yet decided if I want to buy a microwave or toaster oven. Again, there’s a minimal selection available in the stores and the cost is extraordinary. My top priorities right now are to buy a hammock for my patio and a fan for my bedroom. The rest I’ll figure out later.