Daily Life

A note I received:
OK, no hurry to answer me back...but have my top 10 questions for you: 1) Do they have WalMart in Italy? If not, how do you buy groceries? for example different vendors per item or what? 2) Do they sell dogfood? 3) How is the cost of living compared to the US? 4) Electricity go out often? 5) Do they have heat? A/C? 6) Broadband internet or dial-up? 7) Easy street signs (if you can read them, that is), or confusing chopped up streets? 8) Laundrymats? 9) How do you buy shoes there? OK, I know you go in and give money...but vendor, big store, what? 10) Toiletries the same? shampoo, conditioner, soap, tootpaste, etc. They are kind of funny questions, but ones I'm wondering about over and over in my head...lol. Some of them might be a cute story when you find out the answers :) Bonus question: What, so far, has been your biggest (happiest) surprise as far a living necessities??

My Answers:
1. There aren’t Wal-Mart stores here, but there are big “box” stores on the outskirts of the city. However, they aren’t exactly convenient. There’s an Ikea an hour away, and I’m contemplating taking the train there, but physically carrying everything home is a whole other story! So, I make little trips to neighborhood stores on foot or on my bike. Electronics, appliances, hardware, clothing and groceries are really close. These are tiny! The grocery store is about the size of a Dollar General . There’s a bigger one close to Matt and Angie’s and a super big grocery store is only a quick bike ride away. If I’m walking, I take a cart like thing; basically a bag on wheels. I’m trying to practice sticking close to my house and buying things only as I need them. At the end of my road there is a fruit and veggie market. I go there almost every day. They call me “Dear”. The gentleman at the small electronic/appliance store (where I got my phone, alarm clock, mixer, etc…) calls me “Sweetie”. Anyway, back to the veggies – I try to buy something fresh for dinner every day.
2. Yes, they sell dog food. And cat food. There are even pet stores. Dogs are allowed in restaurants here.
3. It’s so expensive. I can’t explain it. I’ve heard about it – but it actually living it is something so different. Plus, you have to deal with charges from the bank. With those and the exchange rate when you spend 1 Euro, you’re really spending $1.50. At least. Things like plastic shoe boxes (which I’m itching for) are about $5 each. Crazy. Even q-tips are expensive. In Haiti we lived in “bulk” and I always had a closet filled with the year’s supply of toilet paper, shampoo, etc. So, it’s a whole new world for me to shop for things I need at the moment.
4. Perfect Electricity! Although you can only use one major appliance at a time. I don’t mind it at all.
5. My condo (it’s really called that) has radiators. I’m really hoping they work well! I don’t have air-conditioning but some people have it for their bedrooms. I did invest in strong fans and am thankful for them. My house has 4 French doors and the room without them has a huge window. So, things stay relatively nice.
6. I have a little USB thing that let me get the internet. This is great for being around town. There aren’t many places with free wifi. And it helped while I waited for the internet in my house, which came yesterday. As for what kind of internet, that is beyond my understanding. A cord goes from the wall to a box that looks like an insect and then I can have internet all over my apartment, unless I’m in the far corner of my dining room. Then, I have to go back to the USB cord because the wireless is too slow.
7. Street signs? When it comes to riding my bike, I’m just guessing at what I’m supposed to do. If I see someone riding the wrong way on a one-way street, I do it too. I don’t know if I’m supposed to obey all the traffic rules or not. I do have a little cheat sheet I found in a tourist book which I probably should sit down with and poor over.
8. There’s a Laundromat right down the block. However, I have a washer. I love it! I can do laundry any time I want to! It’s the first time in my life. I know this is a silly thing, but I take great joy in it. I need to confess something here: I had a housekeeper in Haiti and I so very much appreciate all that she did. Wow! And my sister really took care of my laundry when I was in the States. So, this infatuation with the washer might be short lived, but for now, love it. I have a dryer which is kind of a rare thing here. Most people hang their clothes out to dry. I chose to spend the money for it because I knew that keeping a house for the first time would be an overwhelming task and that this was one way I could make my life easier. Plus, when language school starts on top of all my normal things… I’m so thankful for it. It does work differently than those in the States. It doesn’t have a vent to the outside. Instead it somehow sends the water from the clothes to a tank at the bottom which you have to empty after every load.
PS. I got a dishwasher, too! Spoil me rotten!
9. I haven’t tried to buy shoes, yet. But there are normal shoe stores. There’s even Footlocker. I don’t know how the sizing differs. I haven’t even bought clothes, yet. I’m going to have to this fall, though.
10. You can get great toiletries here. You can find things like Dove and more expensive brands. They do have lots of stores with really, really expensive things. But, at the grocery store you can find the kind for $1.50.
My biggest surprise has been glass jars. I am loving being a homemaker! I love cleaning and organizing and taking care of my pitiful plants on the balcony. And I’ve loved being in the kitchen. Instead of using Tupperware, I’ve been using glass jars which aren’t too expensive. AND, I’ve started canning! Yesterday I canned salsa and chicken tortilla soup. Fun, fun! But, I use the jars for flower vases and for pencil holders… everything!
Which reminds me, about my flowers. Which, I feel like are a household living necessity. And the one thing that is relatively cheap. The flower market comes to my block every Friday morning. This week I have lilies and hydrangeas. The hydrangeas are on my dining table. The lilies are in the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom.


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