February 01, 2011

Let us go shopping (Ready, Get set, GO!)

Well hello there friends,

Today I thought to myself "Why not write about the wonderful world of Curacao shopping". So lets just dive in head first and hope the waters are deep enough!

Shopping, as many know, has replaced the ancient ways of searching for nuts and berries and hiding from growling creatures that lurk in the shadows. It used to be that (wo)man went out into the wild, stomach growling in 7 different languages (And the primitive cavemen not knowing yet what languages are would so have no idea what it was wanting to eat) looking for anything that even looked slightly editable.

 As you can clearly see, caveman knew hair, and hair knew caveman. And clearly they would make the best rock band ever (Rock, get it, stone-age, aah forget you).

If we jump forward to today things trully are different.

As I said, things have changed some. We no longer fear the Saber-tooth or the mighty Entelodon (Basically a man eating pig would make Hannibal feel proud). No these days we have other fears, like do we have enough food, am I running out of toilet paper and the ever strange practice of buying bottled water (Seriously, we got the cleanest water on the planet on the Island and yet people need to buy "THE SAME WATER", yes precisely the same water, for 50 times the price in a cheap and toxic plastic bottle. Most water bottles that come from outside the island are almost always of worst quality then what we get for cheaper out of the tab. Just don't tell the health freaks this they will not be able to accept it even if you give them written proof from laboratory tests. Mostly because a commercial told them their water is "cleaner", and they want to feel good for buying expensive water).

These days our food mostly comes from supermarkets, stores, tokos, snacks, old ladies selling things next to the street, grandma cooking for free and the very few that still are able to grow their own food.

So let us go the supermarket. What should we prepare before we go? Well a shopping list would be a good start. Go on look around your house, what are you missing? Food, maybe some drinks? Well write it all down, now put the list somewhere where you won't forget it. Got it, get it, good!

Now grab some bags and head to that car of yours, the cavemen might have had their feet but we got our wheels! While driving to the supermarket we always think of at least 5 other things we forgot to add to the list, the list! Yes, you forgot the list, well no matter you still know most what you need so lets keep going.

While getting to the supermarket it always looks either to full or to empty. To full means it is open, to empty means you are to early, to late or it some strange free day that you forgot and the store is closed. As Curacao tries to include any vacation day it can to get days off. And usually the days it closed are the days you need toilet paper.

But not today, because today it is packed. So let us find a spot, first get in the row of slow moving cars that brake for anybody to say hello, talk for 5 minutes then drive 5 meters and brake again. As you slowly move forward you see a lady walk towards a car, you brake softly to wait for her to get out. She puts her groceries in the car, goes to the drivers side door, goes in, checks her make-up and goes out back into the store. Car behind you honking, you move forward. After 5 more minutes you spot an opening, but so has somebody that going into the parking lot the wrong way. Both hit the gas, driving at full speed to the empty spot. Chickens flying off the road as men look up at the two cars going at least 25 kilometers per hour by now. You brake as you can clearly see the other person has an older car and is not afraid to use it. Still within 5 more minutes, way in the back, you find a spot and park your car.

Walking towards the store a little girl walks up to you asking for 5 guilders to help with her school uniform fund. You look her in the eyes and see what resembles a sad puppy. You grab your wallet and give the girl 5. Eagerly she grabs it and runs off. Now to get into the store, but wait a small boy comes to you. "Please sir can you buy car wash card so we can blahblahblah" I ask how much and again 5 guilders leave my hand and a pink small card goes in its place. Seeing that the date is next week Saturday between 4PM and 5PM I choose not to go, as clearly the wait and amount of cars will be so high in such a short time frame it just not worth it.

Finally in the store, another kid comes towards me with a collection box. "Please sir, blah blah puppies blah blah fire" and another 5 gone. Within 5 minutes I lost 15 guilders, I should start my own fund.

Now we are inside, the air feels thick of all kinds of house hold smells, from bread to cleaning supplies, from children to old people. As you grab a cart to drive around with, you notice one  of the wheels squeaks and makes the cart move sideways. You want to bring it back but due to the amount of people you can only move forward. So forward we go, going from aisle to aisle, maneuvering around the housewives that always seem to stand in the same sections to block traffic by talking (Mostly canned goods, pasta's or sauces). Coming across old people that like their car driving skills love to go slow in the supermarket. To the small kids running around grabbing things left and right throwing it in their moms car, and the mom putting it neatly back. You go through your mental list and grab whatever you think you need. When you get to the frozen food isle there's always a man standing there not knowing which frozen fish is better, yet not moving from the one spot you need to be at. After 5 minutes he agrees to himself that he better off buying Mac Donalds then cooking himself. So finally you can grab the frozen foods you need. Now you believe you have everything, after being stuck in supermarket cart traffic for 2 hours, you can finally go to the cash-out registers.

You see about 12 cash out registers, and 4 of them are working. Rows behind them as long as traffic jams that haunt the Island traffic in the mornings. You try to see who has the fewest groceries and pray to any god that the check out lady is fast. Well pray all you might, she never is. Goods go past the lazer checker 7 times before beeping. "price check on pizzas, frozen, says 5.99 on them", ooh come on!

So you are standing in the row, and you notice that the person in front of you does not have that much. Yes some luck, till her husband comes back from inside the supermarket and throws on some bread, meat, milk, and goes back for more. After 3 more trips he seems done and smiles widely all proud of the clever system he has made. Meanwhile I'm imagining how they would smile when all four of their tires would be flat when they got to their car.

So finally my turn, beep, beep, the goods go past and the amount is rising. A young boy puts my groceries into the bag I had given him, well puts, throws them in. At home I'm sure to find my tomatoes as tomato soup and the eggs readily mixed into them.  After all the groceries are in he extends his hand wanting a guilder for his "great" job. So giving him a guilder for ruining 15.99 worth of groceries just seemed like the right thing to do. Finally outside again, fresh air, aaaah. "Excuse me mister", AAAAH!, yes? "Would you wish to help our school to go shop in Miami. At which point I just stared at him and walked away (Yes this has actually happened, they wanted me to help them to get tickets to Miami).

Finally my shopping is done, I got everything I need. Or do I? On my drive home I feel much relieved that I was able to do everything before the stores would close. When getting home I find my shopping list, didn't need you now did I buddy!

Going over my groceries I feel a rumble in my gut. Uh-oh, landing incoming. Rushing to the toilet I let out with great relief that what could be classified as giving birth. Now only to....

Well friends, lets leave it at, when going shopping make sure to bring your list. If you do forget, try to remember that you needed toilet paper!

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