After a full 36 hours travelling (with 15 hours in Canada- Tim Horton’s hot chocolate definitely gets a thumbs up from me) I’ve finally arrived in Alajuela. According to Wikipedia, it’s the second biggest city in Costa Rica, but it feels like walking around a village filled with lemon trees, parakeets and coffee shops. They even have a Taco Bell *drools*.
As you’ve probably guessed, I’m about as motivated by food as your average Labrador. Once I got to my apartment, the first thing I did was head straight back into town to find a supermarket. Speaking absolutely zero Spanish, I managed to get through this experience with a pretty good haul and some kind of mystery green fruit (pictured below). I had no idea what it was so was pretty excited to find out.
After completely butchering it with the pretty dull Airbnb knife, I have to say I was quite disappointed. With a texture like foam and a taste like a really rubbish pear, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. A quick google search later and I discovered it was a guanabana, and it’s supposed to be blended into a milkshake. I was not about to attempt it after a total of 6 hours sleep since I left home, and fell asleep at half 7.
Obviously this resulted in me waking up at 4am as soon as the sun started to rise, and I made it my mission for the day to find myself a guanabana milkshake. I got ready and trekked into town (alright a 6 minute walk, but when its 26 degrees at 9am it feels pretty far). A quick circuit of the town centre later and I found a place promising ‘Batidos’ or milkshakes. With some help from some poor hand gestures and worse Spanish, I managed to order the long-awaited guanabana milkshake.
If it’s not up there with one of the best things I’ve ever tasted, I don’t know what is. Absolutely hit the spot, and resulted in me sitting on a bench in a minor sugar coma for a good twenty minutes. I found out that the English translation is soursop- not that you can buy it in the UK, but there are also rumours that it can cure cancer. Either way I’m addicted to it.
Frankly I wasn’t sure if my stay in Alajuela had peaked with that milkshake, but on my wanders I did find a few more gems. Alajuela cathedral is a gorgeous building right in the centre of town, built in the traditional style of many churches in Costa Rica. The central market is well worth a look to see how the locals shop, and get the freshest and cheapest fruit and veg. And no matter what time of day it is, the sky is always a fantastic shade of blue you don’t often see outside of a film set.
The other great thing they have in Alajuela (and all of Costa Rica) is Imperial beer. If you buy a litre bottle of it and return the empty to the supermarket, you get the next one half-price. This is also the reason that the rest of my stay in Alajuela is a little hazy. I did get to try my first Taco Bell one night, and it was everything I’ve ever dreamed of.