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Day 028 Randomocity

Day 028 – August 19, 2011

Random Observations…from our local grocery store.

The Opening Bell

Part of my daily routine is to take a walk to our local grocery store and buy supplies. I like to arrive when the store opens – which is around eight in the morning. Yes, grocery stores here in our section of Lima are not open twenty-four hours, which is a revelation I posted about earlier.

I like to arrive when the store opens because this is the time when the all the fruits and vegetables in the produce section are in neat and tidy. The staff has definitely been and I like to admire their handiwork. When I have arrived later in the afternoon, bananas are mixed in with the watermelon, apples and pears are partying together, and it’s a helter-skelter hodgepodge.

The opening time is also, it appears in my limited sample size, when the store pipes in the music from 1980s, which I like.

Read For Meaning

During my shopping today, I was excited to see that there was 2-for-1 deal being offered for ice cream. The sign said the price was S/. 5.45 – which is a great deal for the frozen treat.

So I was surprised when my pair of ice cream containers went through the price scanners at the checkout and I was charged S/. 10.49.

Huh?

Later, I went back and read the sign and it told all who could read for meaning (and the fine print) that this deal was like getting each quart of ice cream for S/. 5.45.

It’s bad enough having to read signs in a completely different language without having to decipher the tiny text after the asterisk.

Condiment Redux

Because I can, here is another picture of the four-kilogram buckets of ketchup and mustard. This product flabbergasts and amuses me.

Buckets of ketchup and mustard

The right side of the picture is in honor of Chick Hearn

Fantastic…a-ha is now playing over the store speaker system.

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Day 017 Randomocity

Day 017 – August 8, 2011

Random Observations

Revelation of the Day
Early on this fine Monday morning, I made my way down to our local grocery store – around 7:30am (ah, it is so lovely to have the kids away at school so early) – to pick up some foodstuffs for the house. On my approach, I was taken aback to find my entrance blocked by doors that were both closed and locked.

A quick scan around the shuttered doors showed me that this business did not open until 8:00am.

I live in a country where grocery stores are not open twenty-four hours a day (and there are simply not enough exclamation points on my keyboard to stress this point). What sort of looking-glass world have I been deposited in?

To be fair, after about a minute (or ten) of ruminating on the situation, it dawned on me that there might be reasons for this non-24-hour season. First off, there may not be that big a market for people wanting to go to the market at 2:00am. If there was money to be made by late-night munchers, I’m sure some business would step up to take advantage of that. Secondly, people, both shoppers and employees, may not want to venture forth after midnight as people are concerned about their security. Finally, since most grocery shopping (at least here in my area of La Molina) is done by empleadas and since those helpers who don’t live with their employers probably show up to their workplaces around seven or eight in the morning, it makes sense that the stores wouldn’t open until their main clientele arrived.

Of course, I could be 0-for-3 and completely and utterly wrong.

Flavor of the Day
At said store, once it opened, I bought a new flavor of yogurt (my second since my Peruvian adventure started). Called “frutado sauco”, it is light purple (lilac perhaps?) in color and contains tiny bits of a type of dried fruit or berry that is crunchy.

Of note is that the yogurt that I buy here in the 150 gram cups is thinner than yogurt I bought in the States. The yogurt here is almost drinkable, which is ironic because the “drinkable yogurt” sold on the shelves here in Peru is thicker and more akin to a shake, albeit a thin shake.

Punctuation Marks of the Day
In a story in a newspaper I bought (La Republica for those you playing Sin Polaris Newspaper Bingo), there was a story about how much Peru exports to China. In the article, it mentioned that the country I now live in exported, in millions, $5.148,80, worth of goods.

No, you didn’t read that number wrong. It was indeed five-point-one-four-eight-comma-eight-zero.

Now indeed there is no rational or logical reason why the comma should be used to separate the thousands place from the hundreds place, but that is the format I am used to so it was a tad jarring to have to do a mental translation to understand that Peru exported over five billion dollars worth of goods to the Middle Kingdom in 2010.

Yet another quirk to become accustomed to.

Memory Device of the Day
We had workers in our house today fixing some of the heater/air conditioning units in our house. While they were doing their thing, I learned a new Spanish word, which was estufo (outlet). Similar to people’s first names, I have learned that it can be easier to remember things if I can relate the word in some way to something else. For example, if I meet someone named Bob and then stick the image in my mind of them in the ocean bobbing like a buoy, I am more apt to recall their name when I see them again.

The way that I have forced myself to remember this new word is to remind myself that estufo looks similar to “stuff”, and what else do you do with an outlet but to “stuff” an electrical plug into it.

Laugh all you want, I still remember the word.

An “I” For Beauty

Day 028 – August 19, 2011

For today’s post, Disclaimer No. 1 has been invoked.

Along with a newspaper article I read today, I saw something at our local grocery store that made me pause.

In the health aisle – where the shampoo, makeup, eyeliner, and other beautification aids are sold – there are faces plastered on all the walls over the products. All of those faces are of Caucasian women. Some of the models even have blond hair. Heck, even Andie MacDowell and Kelly Ripa are featured in this aisle smiling over all the folks who want to buy toothpaste and lipstick.

There is nary a model being showcased in this aisle as an epitome of beauty who looks anything like 90 percent of the shoppers.

What must a dark-skinned, dark-haired Peruvian woman think when they look around this section of the store and see symbols of beauty that look nothing like her?

I don’t know. Perhaps I’ll go ask the women who frequent my local Target in northern Virginia and ask them what they think when they look at the covers of Cosmopolitan, Vogue, and ELLE, where the models possess body types that look nothing like 90 percent of the shoppers.

This is one of those days I am happy to have that Y chromosome running around my genome.

“K” Rations

Day 187 – January 25, 2012

This is what happens when you allow a fifth-grader (with the matching sense of humor of an eleven year-old) to pick an item from the cookie aisle from the local grocery store:

Kraps brand snack crackers

Truth in advertising, perhaps?

He simply likes being able to say the name without consequence.

It’s Only Money

Day 014 – August 5, 2011

The setting is our local grocery store where I am on my daily outing to buy foodstuffs for our abode.

I am at the caja (cashier) having the items scanned and giving my standard answers to the two questions the seated woman is giving me.

The first is “No, no tengo tarjeta” (No, I don’t have a card). As in the United States, loyalty programs are big here in the large name grocery stores. However, I do not feel confident enough to fill out the application forms, so I haven’t even asked for one.

The second is “Boleta, por favor” (Boleta, please). There are two types of receipts given out by cajas. Boletas are given to private citizens and the other option, factura, is given out to people buying things for a business. Since I don’t own a business, buy for a business, or even know how to say “business” in Spanish, I always answer boleta.

Once the whole transaction is completed and I tell the cashier the latest phrase I have learned, “Que tenga buen dia” (Have a good day), I walk away and look at my receipt.

Dang it! I grouse to myself.

My total bill was for S/. 16.58. That total reads as 16 soles and 58 centimos. An interesting thing to note about Peruvian monetary transactions is they like to round up or down to the nearest 0.05. Yes, there is a 1 centimo coin, but it is rarely used. Therefore, sums are rounded are down or up. Sometimes you win and sometimes you pay. Overall, it has averaged out to a wash.

My total of S/. 16.58 was rounded up to S/. 16.55. Now, I know that my eighth grade math teacher would have a fit at this because, as he taught us, a ones digit of “8” should be rounded up. However, since Mr. Wilkinson was not here in this grocery store in Lima to complain, I dutifully made my payment. I handed over my 20 soles bill, but in an inspiration of uber-helpfullness, I also fish out 60 centimos. This completely flusters my cashier.

It is nice to know that some experiences transcend countries because I have been known to bring lines to a screeching halt with my tendency to pay the exact change. I’m not sure what it is that causes the cerebral functions of a person at an electronic cash register to freeze up when presenting with coins. I’ve caused this condition in the United States (most notably at fast food restaurants) and I’ve done the same now in the Southern Hemisphere.

I so unhinged her that she rang up the amount of money that I gave her as S/. 21.00.

Now we were in a bind because the amount of change her machine was telling her to provide to me was not the number I should receive. Breaking out the old-school method of pencil-and-paper, the cashier works out that I should receive S/. 3.05 in change. She hands me three nuevo soles coins and a five centimo coin and as I walk away to look at my receipt.

Dang it! I grouse to myself.

(Wow! Deja vu!)

I do my own mental math and realize that my change should have been S/. 4.05 (20.60 minus 16.55). I’m still only fifteen feet away from the cashier, but without a grasp of the language, I don’t feel comfortable explaining my arithmetic or complaining about one nuevo sole.

In the end, it’s only $0.36 that we’re talking about.

So I walk away.