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shopping adventures

January 21, 2012

One of the main ways we’ve been learning about the language and people here is by doing errands. There’s no equivalent of  Target or Wal-Mart here, so visit we several shops on each trip. So far we’ve visited a handful of shops in the downtown area. They’re small shops and we can’t tell by the outside of the store what is sold inside. Checking things off the grocery list feels like a scavenger hunt. Also, since most things other than produce are imported, we’ve heard sometimes the whole country will be out of something for a month. So every shopping trip is an adventure!

I feel a little superficial talking about food so often in these posts, but it’s one of the first things we’ve needed to figure out. There’s time for being philosophical later.

The “bulk store” has bins of dry food and also has some packaged and refrigerated food. Prices are usually lowest there. We’ve bought things like dry milk powder, spices, cheese, spaghetti, and flour there.

We’ve visited another store that has about an aisle of each of these types of things: soap/detergent; paper products and toiletries; Asian cooking sauces; canned fish and meat; chips and other snack foods; and a few more assorted ones.

We’ve been to a few other grocery stores with more Western (usually Australian) things. We bought yogurt starter to make our own yogurt, which will be a future post. Tofu makes me happy, so we bought a box there.

John visited a meat shop today and bought some ground lamb meat, which was among the cheaper meats. I’ve never cooked it before. I’ve been craving meat the last few days, which never happens when I’m not pregnant, so I’ll cook it Monday.

The bakery has good, fresh, whole wheat bread for about $1.50 US per loaf. I won’t be making homemade bread here.

Our last stop has been the main market for fruits and vegetables (and the fish last week). Most of the food in the market is in a relatively huge building with a roof but no walls. Most vendors post signs showing the prices, which are not negotiable. I’m glad we aren’t expected to haggle. Our colleagues have taught us Pijin phrases like, “I’d like to buy that heap of potatoes,” “How much is that?” “Do you have change?” and “Thank you.” They’ve also explained things like what the various leafy green veggies are and the names for produce we’ve never seen before. It’s fun to walk up and down the rows and see all of the fruits and vegetables.

a small section of one row in the market

Some things look familiar, such as eggplant and leaf lettuce. Some are totally new. And some are similar to what you’d see in the U.S. but a little different, like foot-long green beans and these orange bananas.

Thanks to Martha for the pictures again!

Okay, our very last stop on Wednesday was the ice cream shop right by the market. We each got a cone and liked the passion fruit ice cream even more than the chocolate.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 21, 2012 8:15 am

    I LOVE hearing about food. So no worries there. Sounfs like you are off to a great start learning the language. The best of luck to you there. I am very impressed by all the products and produce they have available. Will all of that be available year round?

    • January 21, 2012 9:29 pm

      Watermelon and pineapple are seasonal. I think lots of the rest of the produce is available most of the year, depending how much it’s rained. I don’t think there are clear-cut “seasons” for most produce like in the U.S. where it’s May-June for strawberries, summer for zucchini, etc.

  2. Chris Hirt permalink
    January 23, 2012 12:47 am

    Wow, passion fruit ice cream! That sounds awesome. We have coconut ice cream here pretty cheap but passion fruit is high end. It’s great to hear how you guys are doing on a day to day basis. Reminds me a lot of our first days on the field.

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