Aug 06 2012

Paul’s Monthly Tip to Live for Less in Costa Rica: Buy Fresh Flowers

One of the great deals in Costa Rica is buying fresh flowers. I’ve always liked fresh flowers in my house. In Baltimore, we would generally buy flowers weekly or every other week at Trader Joe’s. They were a good deal there as well. A beautiful bunch, suitable for a vase on our dining room table would generally cost about $7, which by U.S. standards is cheap, cheap, cheap. TJs carried other, more expensive bunches, bouquets, and arrangement too. I was glad to find Trader Joe’s because going to the florist for every day flowers was cost prohibitive. A nice arrangement could easily be $30 and up. Once I spent $75 for a beautiful, large arrangement.

In Costa Rica, what I might spend $30 for in the States, I can have here for $4. Usually we spend anywhere from $3 to $5 every other week for incredibly beautiful bouquets. One of our favorites is a bunch of Stargazer Lilies with 20 or more blooms and they all open. We often add in small greens from our yard to make them even more spectacular. We’ve picked ornamental flowers and plant stems from the Cabina property to make interesting table-top displays. The cost for this is $0.

We buy our flowers at the weekly feria (large, open air farmers’ market). Since arriving in Costa Rica, we’ve purchased our flowers from one special vendor – Marlen and her husband Vincente. Actually, they have two stalls, one exclusively for flowers that Marlen runs, and a produce one staffed by Vincente.

Although she buys some of her flowers wholesale and resells them at the feria, many are grown right on their finca, located in Puebla Nuevo, outside of Zarcero at 6200 ft. above sea level (brrrrrrr). Yes, it’s cooler and rainier up, up, up there, where they live and grow their vegetables and flowers. They have no heat, and definitely don’t need air conditioning. We’ve been to their home several times and find them very interesting. They own a modest home, have two almost-grown children, and have even had foreign exchange students live with them. Like most Ticos, they seem satisfied with their lives.

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