17 August 2010

If I want to feed my family...

...I have to go grocery shopping.

It isn't one of my favorite chores. I'd rather wash dishes, do the laundry, mop floors... even clean the bathrooms... any day.

It is exhausting, requires stops at several places, crazy and unpredictable traffic, often includes bargaining back and forth over prices (Nigeriens love that, and I've learned that even if I'm happy with the stated price from the veggie guy, it is a relationship building thing to go ahead and dicker a bit), phone card vendors, leather trinket box vendors, veggie sellers who carry boxes of their wares around to convince you to buy, beggers... and even then you don't find everything you were looking for so that you can follow the menu and ingredient lists you spent 45 minutes planning... I'm so glad I've got a good friend who goes with me each week so we can laugh at the frustrations instead of cry. She really does help me to keep a sense of humor on the days I'm really wishing I could just wiggle my nose (like in the old TV show) and a Meijers or Walmart would appear on the next corner.

This week, we only stopped a few places and didn't drive across town to the store with a real parking lot where we often shop. But just getting back to Niamey, we're checking out all the little boutiques to see what they have, compare prices, find out who will be easy to work with and which places we want to avoid (sometimes that isn't because of the actual shop or shopkeeper... sometimes it is all the people that hang around outside hoping that you'll give them something or that they can sell you something you don't need (this week it was a Halloween costume... a witch....)The pulled up at the first store, but it was closed even though it was after 9:30; then we drove to a second shop, greeted the boutique owner since it was the first time I'd been there in a long time and bought what we needed - including frozen chicken... from Brazil. It looks like I'll be ordering my meat there... and buying diapers as well as some of the odds and ends you find just about anywhere... i.e. tomato paste! Then, we drove to a third shop, a place we stop every week, to get some things we couldn't find at the second place, popped in at the fruit and vegetable stand and was able to bargain down the price of eggs, walked around the corner to look for flour (which there wasn't), drove back to the first shop which was now open and then went home... and all that took about 2 hours.

Once home, groceries have to be put away, the fruits and vegetables have to be soaked in bleach water for 20 minutes... dried... refrigerated, the meat has to be divided and put into the freezer, the eggs have to be washed, dried and put into the fridge and lunch has to be fixed. I guess that's why I'm often wishing for the nap I rarely get on Saturday afternoons!


  1. I need to be more thankful for readily available foods in so many varieties. Glad you shared this!

  2. You put this so well. It took me a while to figure out that I couldn't be as "productive" as I'd imagined because the simple things like grocery shopping just don't happen out in the "real world" like they do back in the U.S. The thing I dreaded most for MONTHS when we first arrived was going grocery shopping. So overwhelming! Great post.


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