Food is such a huge part of a culture and a community. Living in Haiti means not just eating foods that are new to us, it also means shopping for food in ways that are different.
Different isn’t bad… it’s just not what we are used to and it definitely adds to our adventure. And one of the biggest adventures is driving one hour up a rocky mountainous road to the Palma Market. Just when I think we are crazy to be driving up here, I see an overloaded truck with wobbly wheels that is somehow driving up and I know this is possible especially with a rugged vehicle. I would make the trip up here when we want fresh meat.
Otherwise, I would shop at the market just around the corner from us. It has plenty of variety for local produce and also quite a few vendors who sell assorted housewares. It is helpful to have a large bag and a handy husband who doesn’t mind carrying the load. It is also helpful to be willing to barter. I know the vendors are laughing at me as I leave, but for the most part, the prices are excellent and I would rather not even barter but just pay their price. But I try.
It is such a treat to have fruit that is vine ripened. It is necessary to wash all the produce thoroughly with a bleach solution and to carefully pick through the beans. But so far, I have been pleased with what is available locally.
As far as canned goods and non-perishables, there are a few vendors in town who carry a small selection. The store I go to the most is called “The Orange & Green” store. I’m sure you can see why.
I can buy groceries such as powdered milk, margarine, canned peas, and also shampoo and soap. No need to barter here. Just pay the price.
It doesn’t happen often, but when we want lobsters, we wait for the fisherman to come to our door. Many of the cooks here make a nice lobster soup and it is worth the wait.
It’s great to have these local options but there are items that make a trip to Port au Prince worth it. There are plenty of choices there including mid size grocery stores. The prices are steep and I put back a few items because I just couldn’t pay the price.
But with our coolers in hand, we can stock up on some supplies for a few months. Port au Prince also offers some home and furniture stores. Again, the prices are fairly steep but it was fun to see the eclectic selection.
On a final note, I would never pay the price for Häagen-Daas ice cream in Canada. But we called it lunch and throughly enjoyed our indulgence.