Saturday, April 18, 2015

Gringas in the Central Market

Before resuming our Spanish classes at CRLA in San Jose, we spent a full day learning about global nutrition. It was a very interesting topic, although very sad to think about. There is a large percentage of the world’s population that has to live on less than $2 per day, so even if they have food available to them, they cannot afford it. It was very humbling to think about, and I realized how blessed I am.

But we didn’t just learn about this problem. We got some hands on experience, which was a really fun experience. We split in to four groups and were given one thousand colones (less than $2) to spend in the central market. Then we were told to go and try to buy food for one person for a day. My first thought was that there was no way that was even remotely possible. But I was a good sport and followed my group in to the central market. The first stop was eggs. We got four eggs for 400 colones, which left us with about a dollar left for the rest of our food. We then proceeded to the fruit stand, where we bought a carrot and some potatoes. After this purchase we were left with 120 colones, which is about $0.25.

Finally, we decided to buy cheese with what little we had left to spend. But as we were asking the cheese sellers to cut 120 colones worth of cheese, a lady passed by us and overheard our conversation. When she heard that we only had 120 colones to spend, she turned around with the most concerned face I have ever seen. She thought that was all we had for lunch between the three of us and then started to offer to buy us something to eat. Her concern was so adorable and kind! We had to try and explain in our broken Spanish that it was only for a project and that we actually did have money. She laughed about it, but I think she thought we were a little weird for trying to buy such a small amount of cheese. And the vendors definitely did. But we finally got our cheese and met up with the rest of the group.

I thought that we wouldn’t be anywhere near the 1500 calorie recommendation (which we weren’t), but we weren’t as far off as I thought we would be. We came in around 1000 calories, which I thought was pretty impressive for being so terrible at bartering. But it was an eye opening experience to try and buy food for so little. I am so blessed in my life in the States, and I now see that even more clearly.

Emily Leytham

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