All About Shopping!

One of my least favourite activities in the UK has been transformed into a fun though tiring Tuesday morning outing. Setting off around 8.00am ish in our ancient but (so far) reliable pick up truck, armed with a long shopping list we head off to the nearest market town, Jinotepe (a Nahuatl word meaning bald ridge). There is a Pali supermarket, now owned, as are most of Central Americas supermarkets by Wall mart and which I avoid like the plague. Instead we head for a more expensive but Nicaraguan family-owned small supermarket called Santiago which has the added benefit of stocking important veggie staples like lentils, chickpeas and brown bread. They also take some pride in selling local produce such as jam made on the organic Santa Clara farm just outside Jinotepe. And locally roasted granola which the Mariposa students just love.  I try and minimise what else we buy here – just life’s basic neccessites of red and white boxed wine (from Chile and rather good) and tins


Trolley load for a week at the mariposa

of cat food. I constantly worry about keeping the amount of rubbish down and so I hardly buy any tins and avoid as much as possible the ubiquitous plastic bag.


But most of the shopping – and of course this is where the fun comes in – is in the market. We pretty much buy whatever veg and fruit are available, nearly all of it grown in Nicaragua except for some courgette and red & yellow peppers imported from Guatemala. I consider them a real treat!

A selection of veggiesIn spite of the photo above, the one thing I won’t buy is the iceburg lettuce, tasteless as it is everywhere and (at least until recently – we are awaiting more seeds) we have been growing our own salad leaves. But we even buy dog and cat biscuits loose in the market…so much less waste and the money goes staright into the local economy and not into some rich Westerners pocket. Very satisfying way to shop. And all the stall owners know us by now, so they chat and save me stuff as well as often giving a small discount as I am probably one of their best customers.

Dog and cat biscuits and chicken feed

Then its time for a break – I am trying hard to lose some wieght so I try and resist the potato cakes fried with melted cheese in the middle or the delicious vegetarian tacos sold at the stall run by a Chinese family. But it is acceptable to have a fresh fruit juice – today on offer was melon, fruit salad, cebada (made out of corn), pitiya (a bright red/purple fruit), pineapple with rice – but I went for apparently boring but refreshing orange.

Fruit juice for sale by the bucket!

Our purchases are carried back to the pick up by Chele (a nick name which means lighter skin) – some of the sacks of vegetables weigh a ton, he carries them across his shoulders. We pay him above the going rate and he is always waiting for us on  Tuesday morning. Similarly the young guy who lives on the street and we pay to look after the pick up while away doing the shopping. It is just a little more into the pockets of those who most need it. But they sure as hell work for their money.

Chele loading up the pick up truck

And, finally, I took Guillermina’s watch to be fixed – the kind of thing that would take at least a week in the UK and cost a fortune – here was done in ten minutes and set me back somewhat less than a dollar. Food and gasoline are NOT cheap here in Nicaragua but labour certainly is. Essentially we pay third world prices for often first world service!

The watch mender at work


2 thoughts on “All About Shopping!

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