If grocery shopping is a stressful undertaking for you family, imagine doing it in Nicaragua. Imagine doing it without a car, in the summer, and with two children under four years old. But–brace yourself for this–we actually like grocery shopping in Granada. Impressively, what was once an annoying chore for us has become an awaited event.
We begin our excursion by leaving the security of our gated condo in search of a taxi. Once the shock of the surrounding poverty wears off, we soak in the real life of the neighborhood encircling our “bubble”–kids play ball on the street, cycling vendors stop every few houses to chat, and families pass by on all sorts of interesting modes of transport.
Sure, there is some unpleasantness on the first stretch of our journey, namely the heat and general sootiness, but it’s a learning experience at all times.
Like learning to watch where you’re walking:
Just a street down from our home, we are likely to hail a taxi before the kids melt. Our son has begun to say, “It’s too warm, I can’t walk,” so we wait in a small patch of shade on the corner. In moments, a random taxi will slow to ask where we are going. ”La Colonia,” I’ve learned not to ask, but to confidently state. Recently, I asked sweetly, “La Colonia???” and the driver chuckled at me for the entire ride. He repeated my polite, “La Colonia?” at least ten times between belly laughs.
“A donde va?” the taxi driver asks. ”La Colonia,” I firmly declare. He nods his head and we all jump in.
The kids are not seat belted (there are no seat belts, but we’re just on back streets, under 30mph). This would be a nightmare a year ago–they’d be dancing and hopping and reveling in their untethered freedom. Now, I hand them each a bill, and the job of holding our cash keeps them focused on their task. It’s amazing.
We arrive! The kids hand 30-40 cordobas (less than $2) to the driver and we enter the palace, La Colonia. I love it because it’s air-conditioned to the setting of “igloo.” The kids love it because there is a toy machine, snacks, and a sweet ride inside.
I was surprised at how modern this grocery store in Granada is. Maybe I’ve been away from Wegman’s for too long–but this place is nice! There’s a little café inside, I can find everything we need, and did I mention it’s air-conditioned? Oh, and a week’s worth of groceries for our family of four is under $100.
People are super friendly in La Colonia. I am offered assistance in almost every aisle, someone bags my groceries, and they even walk our cart out to the road and hail a taxi for us. Add these perks to the kids being happily strapped down the whole shop, and I can’t imagine it gets better.
The taxi back is easier, because the kids have their little toys or snacks to hold carefully on to. If we are lucky, the driver will take us into our gated complex and help unload the groceries.
It’s odd that over all our crazy trips, I’ve failed to mention this regular outing. In Central America, even the mundane chore can become a thrill. And, fortunately, grocery shopping in Granada can be done successfully with two young kids and no personal vehicle.
See you next week, La Colonia. You stay classy, and please stay cool!
What do you hate/love about grocery shopping in Central America? And, does this sound fantastic for my readers up North, or have I completely lost my mind?