Every Thursday, we drive to Escazu, one of the best-known upscale locations in Costa Rica. This opulent and gorgeous enclave of wealthy expats and Ticos has all of the luxuries we crave from the States and can’t find out here in the country: shelves of high-quality dark chocolate; imported cheeses- Brie, feta, extra-sharp cheddar; and Cheerios. Yeah, Cheerios. We stock up on the high-in-Omega 3-oils fish we love, imported butter with no food coloring in it, baby Portobello mushrooms, tender fresh asparagus, and Brussels sprouts, when we can find them.
We have a standing appointment with an acupuncturist there on Thursdays. For 15,000 colones, or 30 dollars an hour, Doctor Gene makes all of Jack’s aches and pains go away. For now, it seems a much better alternative than joint replacement. Soon the treatments will stop, since he’s now pain-free. Doctor Gene says he can cure my 20-year case of hot flashes, so I’m the next patient.
When we need hardware, or want to add to our garden, we stop at EPA, a mega store. There are plenty of hardware stores here in Puriscal; some even combine hardware with veterinary services and supplies. I like the stores here, but Jack prefers being able to walk down the giant isles grabbing whatever he needs from the shelves, ala Home Depot. Though he’s a gifted artist, he isn’t keen on having to illustrate his needs to the locals, and he’s found that speaking English to them doesn’t seem to work. Yes, he could learn Spanish, but I’m not in charge of that.
We sometimes eat at Hooligans- a place we’d never even think of patronizing in the States, food snobs that we are. We eat there because the fries are to die for; I love the Buffalo chicken fingers, and the tables are perfectly situated at a busy entrance to Multiplaza, the way upscale mall in Escazu. We’re people-watchers. As we eat, we observe folks entering and exiting the mall. One of our favorite pastimes is identifying the women- Gringa or Tica? We can’t always tell, but it’s fun trying. If the woman is wearing baggy pants, or comfortable shoes, we usually put her in the Gringa column.
Recently, as we walked into the mall, we noticed a tabby cat sleeping under a tree near the entrance. Our ahs turned quickly to ewws as we realized that the cat was a mangy, scabby, mess. Within minutes of seating ourselves at our favorite table by the door, we saw the cat wander in and take up residence between the tables at Rostipollos, across the aisle from Hooligans. I have to confess- I expected that cat to be whisked away in short order. I’ve seen people here pick up stones and hurl them at passing dogs. But the customers didn’t seem to mind. I was happy he stayed over there, far away from me, and also happy that nobody cared to shoo him away.
There’s a food court at the Multiplaza, just like any food court in the States. If I’m in the mood for US junk food, there is the usual lineup: Burger King, McDonalds, Subway, Pizza Hut- I’m hardly ever in the mood. Jack has been working on ordering a chocolate-strawberry shake from Pops, the ice cream shop. Only twice has he walked away with two shakes: one strawberry and one chocolate.
And there’s a cinema. Several weeks ago, we stood in a long line to see Toy Story Three. Once inside the comfy theater, we enjoyed about 20 minutes of previews. As we watched, I began to realize that the previews were all in Spanish. Hm, is this normal, I wondered, but then I fell into trying to understand the Spanish. I notice that when I relax, and let the words flow over me, I usually achieve at least a rudimentary understanding. But the film turned out to be in Spanish, and so we asked for, and were given our money back. Next time, we’ll ask first.
We enjoy wandering around the mall, as much for contemplating the numbers of wealthy shoppers, both Ticos and foreigners, as for seeing what the fashionable folk are wearing, but we rarely buy anything but food. Prices are always less here in Puriscal, and shopping locally makes so much sense. If we could afford to shop there, we’d probably still live in Philly, where my heart is.