Right before I started the Daily Boost last year, I stumbled upon the Alma Artesana shop in Curridabat and fell in love with its mission of helping individual artisans make it as a group. I realized how important it was to buy my Christmas presents there instead of ordering things on Amazon to await my arrival in the States, as I sometimes have in the past. The shop, featured in an early post, awakened a new interest in shopping local.
Over the subsequent months, I got out to more farmer’s markets, an incredible family pasta shop, independent bookstores and neighborhood shops. I learned about Local Keeps, which connects lots of Costa Rican “makers” to international customers. I wrote about lots of artists: Raudyn Alfaro, Vivian Víquez of Corteza, Francisco Munguía, Priscilla Aguirre, Carolina Rodríguez of Chepeart, the street art platform Costa Rica en la Pared, No Estamos Todas, and many more. However, things really shot into a new gear with the global pandemic. Like so many other consumers around the world, I realized that every dollar I spend supports somebody. Sometimes, it’s a gazillionaire in a castle made of gold bricks, and that’s just the way that is. Whenever possible, though, we can try to support the person who’s on the other side of the counter or bank transfer.
I also realized that incremental changes are ok. They’ve had to be, during a year this overwhelming and with this many economic challenges. But the weekly box of veggies that arrives now on Sundays from a local farm: that helps. The meals we order from a rotating circle of the neighborhood restaurants we’re most worried about: that helps. Somehow, 2020 helped shake loose some of the guilt I used to feel about responsible spending and make me realize that hey, any dollar (or colón) redirected to a better recipient is a win. So just focus on your wins.
My family went back to Alma Artesana a few days ago for the first time in awhile. I went in for cloth face masks, but we ended up lingering much longer than we meant to, thrilled by the store’s gorgeous new location (just south of the McDonald’s across from Plaza del Sol, if you’re in the neighborhood), and the amazing work of the craftspeople it represents. While every product in the store and every woman working there has a story of stress and 2020 trouble, it was inspiring – and a huge relief – to see them surviving and maybe even thriving.
I think the newfound consciousness so many of us have gained about the power of our money, even just a dollar, might help more success stories come true as we emerge.
I’m a writer in San José, Costa Rica, on a year-long quest to share daily posts on inspiring people, places and ideas from my adopted home as a kind of tonic during a rough time in the world. Sign up (top right of this page) to receive a little dose of inspiration every weekday in your mailbox; tell a friend; check out past posts; learn how to join my Overwhelmed Writers’ League, every Saturday at 1 pm EST; and please connect with me on Instagram or Facebook! To learn more about how to support Costa Rica during the crisis, visit my COVID-19 section – or for ways to enjoy Costa Rica from afar, visit Virtual Costa Rica.