While in Nuevo Arenal, Costa Rica February 14 – April 3, I have begun to truly appreciate and love the small town. Though it is not extravagant or large, the local people and community make it a truly special place that draws you in and makes you grow to love it for the sense of acceptance and friendliness that is present. Living among local residents of Costa Rica, shopping where they shop, and practicing some Spanish along the way has been a unique and learning experience. Now, I would like to allow you to experience the town of Nuevo Arenal by sharing pictures of some local businesses and individuals who are self-employed.
This is the center of town where many of the businesses are located. There are bakeries, supermarkets, a vegetable market, restaurants, and even a hair salon.
Above are the two supermarkets we have in town. We waited a month for the new Super Mas to open up across the street from our other supermarket option called Super Compro. For us, the opening of a new supermarket was one of the most exciting events of the month! When we got back from our church service and discovered it was finally open, we ran home to change and promptly returned. Me and my family were like kids in a candy store! We were so excited to learn they sold peanut butter and products from Bioland (Health food brand in Costa Rica).
For a more pleasurable and tranquil shopping experience, we walk down the street and browse through these smaller shops. There’s a store that sells clothing, another shop with a variety of plastics for the kitchen, and a food market on this strip of town.
The Computer and More shop was a life saver for us when we first arrived to Nuevo Arenal! Stan and Michael were a source of knowledge and a tremendous help when it came to figuring out how to get our internet chip set up and other technical computer problems we were clueless on how to fix.
The latest arrival is a sewing shop! I think it makes a nice addition to the town.
Other services available include our local post office (we sent 3 postcards at their office), the National Bank, and a gasoline station. The ICE building is where you set up all utilities, internet and phone. First you visit the Ice Building, then you go to the grocery store to prepay if not resident and then back to ICE if you need help activating your service. .
The man pictured right posed for a photo in front of his “mobile vegetable stand”.
Local self-employed individuals also play an important part in the community. Fresh vegetables and fruits arrive either by truck or foot. Often the individuals go to each door step to offer forth their produce. My favorite is the egg selling man who comes through weekly yelling “Huevos!” (Spanish for eggs). We also have a lady who walks by daily with her basket selling pastries she bakes fresh.
Two other jobs I find interesting is a local man who carries pots for sale on his head and the lawn cutting service who uses a weed whacker instead of a mower to cut the grass! In Costa Rica, daily life is full of surprises and some of them are quite comical like the man with pots on his head who posed for me while I stood at the window of our rental!
Elizabeth’s Traveling Tips: When shopping in Costa Rica, it is handy to brush up on some simple Spanish phrases. The Ticos (citizens of Costa Rica) are eager and understanding when it comes to communicating. Even if your Spanish is not very good, don’t be afraid to try. They will help and correct you if you mess up which is part of the joy in learning! Remember that hand motions and facial language are useful when it comes to getting your point across. My mom knows only about 5 Spanish words, yet she has managed to pay all our bills and purchase our food through pointing, body language and assistance from local Americans in the community.