Monday, July 29, 2013

Ambergris Caye Supermarkets

Before heading to Belize, I did a bit of detective work trying to figure out if there were any grocery stores near our hotel. It was difficult because Google Maps doesn't have too many San Pedro businesses marked up so I had to rely on forums and hotel reviews.

Luckily, there are markets sprinkled throughout town so you're bound to be near at least one. We went to five markets while in San Pedro and I'll let you know which ones I preferred. Here's a map for reference:

I didn't take a photo of the first market we went to, Save On, so I'm just showing you what some Belize money looks like. Save On is located across from the Tropic Air terminal. It's a tiny convenience store-sized grocery that has all of the basics for a reasonable price. However, the thing that turned me off were the sheer number of flies swarming around the un-refrigerated produce section as well as the spoiled fruits and vegetables in dirty bins. I had to rifle through a pile of onions to find one that wasn't damaged or rotting. By the end of the week I was less princess-y about flies but my visit to Save On took place just 30 minutes after landing in San Pedro and I had just flown in from America, the land where people are spoiled and where we take things for granted.


That being said, we did buy some peppers, onion, garlic, rice, canned beans, canned tomato sauce, dried pasta, and a bottle of hot sauce and enjoyed all of it without dying so I think a few flies is not something to cry about.
The next day, we took the hotel bikes out for a spin and headed up north and saw Richie's on our way to the toll bridge. We decided we'd stop by on our way back to the hotel. This was my favorite market out of all of the markets we visited. It was really clean and well-maintained. I didn't see any expired products (which is something you have to be vigilant about) and they had a wide selection of fresh produce, cheese, juices, and non-perishables. And the prices were reasonable and clearly marked. I was still weary of the packaged meat (chicken, beef, pork) because it looked a little grey. In general, the meat in all of the markets looked not so great.
I didn't actually visit this "Caye Mart" but it looked similar to Richie's. Clean, well-maintained, and relatively popular.
Super Buy is bright purple so it's difficult to miss. It was definitely the largest and most densely packed market we visited. It was also reasonably priced (you have to remember that it's a tiny island where everything is imported) but it wasn't as clean as Richie's and they didn't have air conditioning. In fact, the facade was just open. The selection of processed foods was larger but they didn't really have a produce section. They had stacks of eggs in open crates that you had to pack into cartons yourself.
Island Super Mart was located a bit south of our hotel. It's huge but the products are spread out so they don't have too much to offer. I thought the meat here might be a bit better but it was grey-ish: same as everywhere else.
If you want to see what I cooked in our hotel kitchen and where I ate, you should head over to my food blog.

Cheers.

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