Saturday, July 2, 2011

It’s like living in Michigan…only different (aka The Grocery Store rant)

Just as a side note before you read this, I am trying to find a balance between being true to me and expressing my feelings and being thoughtful and courteous to a country where we are technically “guests”. So please, give me room to rant a bit, but don’t take this to mean that South Africa is a horrible place. It’s not bad, just different and right now, some of the differences, like the grocery store, are really getting on my last nerve!

I used to be the one who went grocery shopping every week. I often went alone as I had friends, ok Rachel, who would watch my kids for me. Or I’d go with Jori and JJ and let them have donuts and we’d go down the grocery aisles in ways that sometimes seemed stressful to me, but I now realize how carefree we all were. I was free. Free to go where I wanted, when I wanted. I could stop in and visit friends for coffee, or go through the Wendy’s drive through for a Frosty (oh how I miss those!).

Now we do all of our grocery shopping as a family, which is NOT fun and NOT carefree, or Darin goes alone or with one of the kids.  I can’t drive alone yet because I have not mastered driving stick shift. Even if I could, I am still trying to figure out the whole dollar to Rand conversion, which just comes naturally to my math minded husband. Right now I’d give anything to go grocery shopping alone or with my kids in the states. I’d love to be at Meijer where I could read all the labels and where I would walk in to the store and KNOW that they would have exactly what was on my list. Instead I now feel frazzled and the total opposite of calm whenever I enter a store.

For starters, if we are at our local store we are usually the only white people there, other than the store owners, so we definitely stick out. I don’t care that we are the only white people, but when all 4 of us are together, we are loud and take up a lot of space and it just makes me feel so out of place. The aisles seem so much smaller, so it’s like you are pushing your way past people all the time. And they are always mopping the floors or stocking the shelves and when you try to get past, no one moves, so you end up turning around, which is hard to do when there are 4 of you.

Things are also not where one would think they should be. Not all of the sugar is together. Why, I don’t know, but I find it strange and bothersome as I am trying to decide what kind of sugar I need and it’s in two different aisles. And it is quite possible that one day you might find something that you were really wanting or needing and then the next, it could be gone and it might not ever be back or it might come back to the shelves after a few weeks. Who really knows.

I also cannot find green onions anywhere. Chives, yes, but they are skinny and not really what I am wanting. I did find Clementine oranges and thankfully they were exactly what I was hoping for them to be!! Seedless, little, juicy balls of deliciousness. I also found strawberries, but once I used all my brain power to figure out the Rand to dollar conversion I realized I could not get myself to buy them at over $5/lb. Now I wish I had them. Strawberries….Mmmmmm.

I know in time I will adjust to grocery shopping here in South Africa. For now I’ll just have to keep working on my attitude. Purchasing a Cadbury Milk Chocolate bar on every grocery excursion does help, so for now I will continue to treat myself!


Anonymous said...

Are there any spices you need or want that you can't get there? Hang in there - it will get more normal at some point (though I can't promise soon) :) said...

Yep-it was like living in Michigan...only different in Amstelveen, the Netherlands in the Spar Market. We took our little Honda and bought our groceries not realizing all good Dutch housewives brought their shopping bags. Dad and I went out with cans and oranges in our pockets, our hands, inside our jackets-but only one time. Then the time we returned what we thought were 'bad' oranges - only to have the manager mock us and cut them up and hand sections to all the customers complaining about the Americans who could not judge 'good' oranges-the most infuriating was when our good friend Peter came along and played along with the manager and agreed that we knew nothing about good fruit.
I also ordered three pounds of meat to find the man selling it and the other customers laughing at me. It was probably thirty dollars worth of meat-they sold it by the ounce. That was after I went up and ordered only to have every Dutch housewife there inform me I had cut in line as one loudly announced "IK bin aan de buurd" "It's my turn." ahhh and how I learned to love shopping in Holland and still today go to Canada to the Dutch Market. Dear Girl, patience with yourself and them. This too shall pass.

Anonymous said...

I say bring on the treats. Candy bars definitely will help! :)

Love ya girl!

Robin said...

Oh Jonna - You are truly amazing. I love reading your blog - did I tell you that yet? :)

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