Thursday, March 13, 2014

Another Interesting Shopping Experience

An unbelievable amount of citrus fruits here!
It is so good to see fresh things!
I am getting pretty good at working my way through the various outdoor food markets. I have become accustomed to the numerous root vegetables, but I have not tried to cook any yet. Since it is so hard to find fresh fruits and vegetables, I really stock up when I do. In fact, I usually over buy and then force feed the crew! Hey, what's wrong with fresh bananas, grapefruits and oranges every day! I peel and section the citrus fruits so they are at hand and an easy to grab snack.
The locals call these "pumpkin" but they look
like varieties of what we call "squash."

In Panama City, Vicky and I went to the local farmers/wholesale market. It was somewhat like Eastern Market in Detroit, but not as clean. The one we visited had permanent stalls as well as some under a common roof.

It was organized by the type of foods so it was easy to compare between vendors. Our biggest challenge was the language. Fortunately, we found a taxi driver who would stay with us and translate. He also carried everything to the car and unloaded it at the dock. Mario was a blessing on such a hot day in the dusty market.

It was difficult asking for the cost of an item without
speaking Spanish. I had to depend on Mario.
One of the things that I have found I can finally accept is the idea of not refrigerating eggs that have never been refrigerated! Yes, that is right. If I buy them in a store, then I have to keep them cool. I also have to take my own egg cartons with me since eggs don't travel well in a bag!

It is a busy place on Saturday.
As for bags, you cannot count on the vendor having them available. So I head of to market with a boat bag full of other bags. The best bags I have are REI shopping bags. Check them out near the checkout counter in the store.

I found such good bargains there. A whole sack -as in 25 pounds - of oranges was $5 and a sack of grapefruit was only $4! Now think of what you are paying in the market at home! These look like produce that would be used for processing and not in your store. There is nothing wrong with them; they just aren't pretty like the ones we like to pick out individually. The taste is wonderful and they are very juicy.

Wow! Fresh parsley and romaine. It is hard to find fresh
greens. I miss my cello packed romaine that lasts!
Then there are the bananas. For $5, I could have purchased a whole stalk! However, I did not have room for that many, nor could we eat that many before they would spoil. I managed to negotiate for a half stalk for $2.50. (Sign language is working better than my Spanish!) We have had bananas for four weeks as a result. They are very green so I select the most ripe ones and put them in a plastic bag with an apple to speed up the ripening process. This way I can have a continuous stream of perfectly ripened bananas.

Truly Mother Nature's palette of colors!
Pineapples were $1 each as were the better avocados. I tried the cheaper avocados but found them not lasting as long. Tomatoes were $0.40 a pound.

It is hard to find lemons as we know them. The ones here are somewhat orange in color inside. The limes are yellow on the outside. They had green ones like we have at home, but the vendor was insistent that I wouldn't like them because they were not yet ripe. So I bought the yellow ones and he was right! They are sweeter yet still tart. You learn something new everyday.

Back on the boat, everything was soaked in
saltwater over the side of the boat and then
given a fresh water rinse and dried before
storing. Just need to keep bugs off the boat!
I ended up with a trunk full of fresh fruits and vegetables for a grand total of $35 plus $20 round trip taxi ride. This is probably the last time we will see this kind of selection and at such low prices. The provisioning on the Galapagos Islands will be limited and expensive. And everything is cash only. We were advised that the prices in the Marquesas will be outrageous. Feeding the crew will be challenging in both budget and finding meats and produce we like.

I am sure my shopping and cooking will become even more comical as we continue westward into the more remote islands. I understand that some of them have no official currency so we will be trading goods. I hope I have brought along the right things to trade!

So far I haven't had any complaints from the crew so I will keep being creative with what I have available on any given day!


  1. Sounds like the crew is getting its vitamins and lots of fresh fruit. You'll be happy to know we had 8" of snow Tuesday - Wednesday :-( . Enjoying your blog, fair winds and following seas. Tony

  2. Dennis, Sherry,
    Sounds like your getting lots of vitamin "D" and your daily allotment of fruits and veggies. You'll be happy to know we had 7-8" of snow last Tuesday - Wednesday. Enjoying the blog, Fair winds and following seas friends. Tony


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