We've been so focussed on all the little details of getting ready for our move (and then actually getting through that move) that I think we somehow forgot that we were actually going to be living in a foreign country. Sounds funny, right? But every day we look around and at each other with this sense of "where the heck are we, where is everyone we know and love, and HOW the HECK did this happen??" Admittedly, the jet lag has greatly contributed to these feelings of confusion.
Now that I finally have one night of proper SLEEP behind me, I want to introduce to you our first completely overwhelming cultural experience:
(Duh duh duh duuuuuhhhhh..........)
Two days in a row, we've been taken shopping for basic necessities, mainly in the form of food. Both times we ended up in two different stores of the chain "Carrefour." The first time I told the driver, "Give us an hour," thinking this would be like my usual whip through Food Basics. Ya, dead wrong. Mind you, we couldn't have mentally handled more than an hour of jet-lagged wanderings, so perhaps I wasn't so foolish.
I forgot what it's like to live in a foreign country where very few products are recognizable, and if they are, they're crazy overpriced. We walked aisle after aisle of this superstore, in a dim and foggy haze. I stared numbly at the rows upon rows of rice, cereal, sauces, and various other assortments of goods. How is one to know what kind of rice will be good, or what kind of pickles you will like? (the ones we chose taste like pure vinegar, by the way) On many items we ventured into new territory, choosing brands unfamiliar to us, covered in Arabic script. But on others we were firm. Heinz ketchup (for Kaiya) and Kikkoman soy sauce (for me).
A difference here that really stood out to me (and kind of made me laugh, to be honest) was all the bagging. In Canada, we use re-usable bags as much as possible, or pay out our 5 cents per bag. I've gotten to the point I hardly even use bags when purchasing produce. I let the cashier do the work of rounding up all my stray oranges to weigh them and price them. Plastic bags are used sparingly (and rightly so, considering the plastic vortex in the Pacific Ocean). It's become so natural to me I don't even have to think twice about grabbing my re-usable bags on my way out the door. Well, all our habits are about to change, and swiftly! In the grocery stores here, you have to bag all of your produce separately and have it weighed and stickered in the produce section before checking out. Speeds things up in the checkout, I suppose.
Here is our lovely bagged produce: Note the lonely pepper.
And then, when checking out, your groceries are all meticulously bagged for you (admittedly, we have missed this kind of service). Your bags are even tied. This I could do without. The cashier asked me if I would like to use re-usable bags, and I had to smile when he showed me more plastic. A thicker, more durable type, mind you, but hardly something I would use for years to come.
And here's Jeff and Kaiya, modelling our beautifully wrapped groceries and home items. Can you tell how exhausted we all were?
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go enjoy some toast and tea with the kettle and toaster that just arrived at my door. It's 9:30am, Jeff's at work, and Kaiya is still sleeping. Life feels pretty good today. It's the simple things, I tell you, all starting with a good night's sleep.