Tuesday, January 02, 2007

First trip to the mall (by Helen)

Ah, a trip to the mall. We needed to go to a Super Walmart type of store and everybody says go to Jumbo, so we went. Two big stores, Jumbo and Easy were the anchor stores and then there were lots of other shops. Very few clothes but lots of shoes. I still stand by my initial impression that things here are expensive. For example, we need more hangers. K-mart sells 10 plastic hangers for $1. The jumbo sells 4 hangers for 5.50 pesos ( remember to divide by 3 to get US dollars). A 3 drawer plastic set of drawers that is about $12 US was about 50 pesos. The grocery store part of Jumbo was great. There is an american section (like in the international section in Giant Eagle) that sells peanut butter, pancake syrup (small bottle for 22 pesos) and spices. Regular old black pepper is an international item. They dont use pepper. The restaurants have two little dispensers on the table. One is salt and the other matching container that should be pepper is toothpicks, but one should never actually pick their teeth because it is rude.
We just sort of watch other people to see what they do. For example, produce is weighed in the middle of the store, and stickered with the price. This looked like an important line so I just stood in it and handed over produce like everybody else did. Then at check out we stood in just any old line and the cashier asked us a question which of course we didnt understand, so we just stand there with the deer in the headlights look and a brittish woman came and saved us to say that this line is for delivery to your house. So, off we go to another line that looked promising. Then the cashier asked for identification - again, deer in the headlights. Then she asked us if we had a club card - again deer in the headlights. We were again saved by a lady behind us.
Then we get something to eat - avoiding McDonalds for some place that looked local. The waitress asked us if we wanted a menu - again deer in the headlights. While we are eating some little boy asked us if we were done so he could have the rest. I didn´t catch on to that, thinking he was begging, which is common, and I said no. I feel bad about that because actually I was finished. Like any 2 year old I can say No and I´m not afraid to use it.
We took a cab there and a cab back. We want to start using the bus, but are not quite ready. The first cab driver, Jose, was very friendly and knew quite a bit of english because he lived in Austrailia for 6 months. He loves the USA, but hates Bush. He did, however, love Clinton. If they know we´re American they want to talk politics.
Restaurants are somewhat challenging. Ken ordered a steak - and that is exactly what he got - a steak on a plate. No veggie or potato or garnish - just meat. No spices. And because it was the dinner hour we are charged 5 pesos just for being there. The place was nice and the waiter helpful. They know we are foreigners, so they don´t ask specific questions, such as what kind of beer. So far, it seems we look German, so Heineken is what they choose for us. No matter what they bring us, we eat it or drink it and are grateful.


Chas said...

Love these daily updates. Soon you'll be writing them in Spanish without even realizing it.

(PS: The time stamp on my comments is always 3 hours off. This one says 4:44, but it's really 6:44. I think yours are off by 6 hours!)

Dana said...

You have only been there a couple of days, don't be so hard on yourselves! You'll catch on.
Just have fun!


Ken and Helen said...

Notice that I am a bit sunburned. the sun is really strong here. Not to worry, I bought sun screen.

Ian said...

Ken and Helen Heineken is from Holland,not from Germany.You learn something new every day.