Friday Farmer’s Market in Jaco

Posted by Alex Wardlaw in Food, Traveling 14 Sep 2015

It’s my fourth day at Room2Board and I’ve hardly left the hostel – there have been so many amazing people to meet and things to learn!

Today, I decide to break the trend and start my day by venturing out to the local farmer’s market. I wasn’t disappointed.

Farmer’s Market in Jaco

 Jaco Farmers market

Farmers Market in Jaco Farmers Market in Jaco

Under five minutes walk from the hostel, the market was vibrant and busy. Large tarps extended from trucks, shading baskets and crates over-flowing with the freshest looking fruits and vegetables. I’ve never seen so many pineapples in one place. Coconuts, watermelon, root vegetables, tomatoes. It was a culinary paradise! I rarely cook and I was itching to put together a shopping list and whip up a meal. Conor — another Room2Board volunteer — and I made a pact to come back next week to pick up ingredients for a staff meal. What a great way to put the Room2Board communal kitchen to use!

Farmers Market in Jaco Farmers Market in Jaco Farmers Market in Jaco

Simply put, it was mouthwatering.

Right away, I noticed crates at almost every vendor, full to the brim with the strangest looking fruit I have ever seen. Blotchy red and yellow spheres the size of walnuts, covered with twisty spikes. Nature’s version of a spiked rubber stress ball. A vendor saw me eyeing them and had one half peeled and in my hand before I could say anything. “Lychee!” he said, looking at me expectantly. Just like lychee, which I have always avoided, the inside of the fruit was white, translucent and slimy. I hesitatingly bit off a bit. What a surprise! The taste went from soft and sweet to incredibly sour and tangy. I devoured the rest. A bit of research back at Room2Board revealed that the fruit is the Costa Rican Rambutan, locally known as the Mamon Chino, a close relative to lychee and other edible tropical fruits. I can’t recommend rambutan enough – just watch out for the pit.

Farmers Market in Jaco

Rambutan = all-natural tropical candy.

In addition to fruits and vegetables and rambutan, the market boasted several clothes vendors, work by local artisans, natural remedies, local honey (great for allergies), and a vendor selling pieces of Himalayan sea salt the size of my fist. There was even a stand of beautiful fruit tarts, cookies and whoopie pies run by a Mennonite family. An unexpected sight for me at a Costa Rican market but a familiar one to a girl who was born in Ohio! Apparently, there is a large Mennonite community in Costa Rica.

The market was a great way to connect with the Jaco community. Conor and I struck up several conversations. Including with a little girl who wanted to practice her english. Everyone was incredibly friendly. And generous, too. I went back to my rambutan vendor to buy two for the walk home. He insisted I take them free of charge.

I’m looking forward to next Friday.

Farmers Market in Jaco Farmers Market in Jaco

Getting there: Walk out past the surfboard lockers and take a left onto the road running by the hostel. Keep going across a little bridge. Keep an eye out for cars, it’s a tight squeeze! After the bridge, head to your right and you’ll walk right into the market. You can’t miss it!

Hours: Every Friday, 6 am to 2 pm.  Get there on the early side to catch all the vendors – some of them start to pack up by noon.

Bonus: The market is cheap! Only 500 colones for 10 bananas – that’s about $1.

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