Thursday, March 4, 2010

Adventures in Grocery Shopping

If you ever want to feel completely out of your element in a foreign country try doing something commonplace like grocery shopping. How hard can it be, really? You go into the store, grab a cart and fill it with munchies, right? Wrong. Let me tell you about going to the Extra store in Belo. Think Wal-mart Super-center on steroids and crack. It was a huge store with hoards of people scurrying every which way. I couldn’t read the signs to figure out if I was going to end up in hardware or produce and my Portuguese has not progressed far enough to ask for directions from the helpful sales associates.

Thanks to Kathy and Jen I was able to finally arrive in the grocery section. They were having a sale on fruits and veggies so the produce section looked like feeding time in the shark pool. Scary stuff let me tell you. But being the intrepid adventurer that I am I dove in and eventually came out alive, in one piece with some guavas, nuts and raisins. I could have gotten more but I thought the produce at the small local fruit market in Nova Lima looked better.

Then there were the pre-packaged foods like cereal and such. All in Portuguese and Braille and only a few familiar brands that were priced way beyond what I’m willing to pay. I mean, I know how much that product runs in the States and there is no way I’m paying twice that amount. (or is it really twice the amount since I’m still getting used to the exchange rate?) Anyway, I think I got some oatmeal with strawberries and yogurt but then it might be birdseed for all I know.

So after a harrowing two hours in the store trying to look like I at least have a clue of what I’m doing, we made it to the check-out. As the girl was scanning my stuff I thought I was home free. Wrong! That’s when the real adventure began. For some reason my debit card wouldn’t go through. Uh-oh. I only had R $50.00 cash and my purchase was more than that. What to do? I always feel like an idiot when that happens in the States it’s even worse when you don’t speak the language. The girl is looking at me like I’ve suddenly sprouted horns or something. I can’t understand what she’s saying to me and the manager came and took my card away. Jen said something about the system freezing up. Yikes!! Eventually the manger came back with my card and asked me to follow her. Now I’m starting to panic. What did I do? But the matter was quickly resolved. It wasn’t my fault and my card went through. So now to figure out just what it was I bought.


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