Local Flavor – Costa RicaPosted: October 21, 2012
Traveling to Costa Rica is hectic, yet rewarding. My understanding that vegan food is easily accessible in Costa Rica was one of the main reasons I wanted to visit the country. That, and adventure. A girl who appreciates vegan, organic, clean foods can appreciate the local foods offered in Costa Rica.
Upon our arrival into San Jose, I experienced anxiety, worry, trepidation. The airport experience was chaotic and upon realizing the lack of traffic regulations, renting a car seemed like an awful idea. We chose to drive in to San Jose, which was the opposite direction we needed to be headed because I had heard of a few vegan restaurants in that area. Although the guy behind the counter at the rental car company advised against it, we did it anyway. We could not read the street signs, nor was the “map” any help. I use the word “map” very loosely. Eyes wide open, sitting on the edge of my seat, we were driving in to a crazy busy city without any idea of …of.. anything. Well, we knew we were hungry for vegan Costa Rican food.
We never did find the restaurant originally sought after, however we did stumble upon El Gourmet Vegetariano. Upon sight of the restaurant, the universe became a bit brighter, our anxiety released, and our journey was officially validated.
We found a place to park the truck, which was scary considering we could not read the street signs and we had all of our valuables packed in the vehicle. In Chicago, if you park on the wrong side of the street at the wrong time, you are ticketed. Would this happen in San Jose? We still have no way of knowing.
Dodging the rain, we stepped in to the restaurant. In broken english, the server asked “do you know we have no meat?” “That’s why we’re here.” *smiles* He handed us menus that we could not read (they only had a spanish version available) so we pointed to the pictures representing the meals we were interested in. (so that’s why photos are so important) We crossed our fingers in hopes that we’d made good decisions. Ends up, we were served one of the best meals we had the entire trip.
Through the continuous rain, we set off to our destination after lunch. We were looking at a full 3 hour drive. In the dark. In a foreign country. With minimal street signs and street lights. In the rain. We only got lost 7-10 times. We only had to stop and ask directions 7-10 times. High.Anxiety.
This cute little market (Coca-Cola branded) we found along the side of the road lightened our mood. We purchased Costa Rican candies, honey, and lychees. The lychees ended up being Chris’ favorite fruit, in fact he took it upon himself to share them with every American we met along our trip. We met a group of people on our zipline tour who mentioned a bowl of these fruits decorating a table of their temporary home. They would have never known the lychee to be an edible fruit had they not met Chris.
Late in the evening, we finally made it to our first temporary home, Cuna Del Angel in Puertocito. It was beautiful. There is so much story to tell but that is enough for one day. I’ve got to get on with my day, and pack for our big move.