by Becca Hurliman
I’m asked this question a lot. It’s hard to answer. How do I really explain what I do as an American living in a rural beach town in Central America, in a country whose native language is not my own, working with people I wouldn’t have ever known if it weren’t for Abriendo Mentes?
For one, I eat. This is the same as my life in the States, although the foods may look a little different. As part one of my answer to this question, here are my personal favorite places to grab a snack or share a meal:
1. Soda Marcell
Soda Marcell sits lower than the gravel road into Potrero. Its light green walls and bright green table cloths make it feel a little cooler in my mind, but I’m sure sitting under the fans is what really helps. Breakfast at Soda Marcell is my favorite. Simple yet filling, some pinto with a huevo frito always hits the spot. Carlos always tries to convince me my stomach is bigger than I believe, and I should make that two huevos fritos or maybe add some pan tostado or salchichon to the side. Sometimes, I am convinced.
2. The Shack
The Shack is located in Surfside, a 20-minute walk from Potrero on the beach. Open-aired on three sides, and staffed by a literature-loving Tica, it is the ideal place to pop in for a bottomless cup of coffee and a fruit plate. While papaya is still hardly growing on me, the mango, watermelon, pineapple, and strawberries are always a refreshing mid-morning indulgence It is easy to spend hours here, shrugging ones shoulders at the bus as it flies past in a blur of dust.
3. Las Brisas
While not on the menu, patacones are a delicious treat at Las Brisas. The lone beach-front restaurant in Potrero, it is always a beautiful place to have lunch or an afternoon snack. Pelicans and fisherman fill the seascape, and more than one dog runs playfully around the beach. The crowd at Las Brisas is always changing and generally quite diverse, and it’s hard to resist fresh ceviche served with a beach view.
4. Sol y Mar
Arroz con pollo. Served with both salad and French fries, the arroz con pollo at Sol y Mar boasts a unique flavor. This is the first restaurant I ate at when I arrived in Potrero, and this was the first meal I ordered. Since then, Sol y Mar has proven to be a perfect place to grab batidos para llevar when the office is just too hot, or to stop in on for a meal around the funky-shaped wooden tables on lazy days.
5. Fruit Stand
The fruit stand sits along the road through Surfside under a dark green tarp. Aisles are created between crates of pineapple, mango, melon, papaya, onion, tomato, green beans, kiwi apples, plums, grapes, strawberries, cabbage, oranges, eggs, limes, yucca, and gaunabana. On lucky days there are grapefruit and special discounts.
It is an AM tradition for volunteers, intern, and staff to share in a weekly potluck. Dishes vary from Indian curries to German puddings, from potato salad to mango salsas to chicken kabobs to fruit salad. I think I can safely say that every volunteer looks forward to seeing what’s on their plate at potluck.