Cultural Experience of the Week: buying groceries with input from, well, everyone.
At the small village grocery this week, I found Granny Smith apples, Bridget's favorite! In this store you place items on the counter as you go along, instead of carrying a basket. That typically leads to several people standing at the counter trying to buy groceries at the same time, figuring out what belongs to whom. I placed those apples on the counter with other items and walked to buy some mixed nuts. The clerk called me back, "Those aren't good." I thought they had bruises on them. She continued, "Those aren't Lebanese apples." OK, maybe this an extra-nationalistic store? She finally explained that you can't just eat them raw, but need to cook them with salt - she just wanted to make sure I knew that. So I thanked her very much for the tip and went to buy those nuts. I placed them on the counter and went to buy ham. She called me back, "Those aren't good. The ones next to them are better." So I went and changed them, since they were the same price anyway. She said, "No, not those, the other ones." She then accompanied me back to get a 3rd bag of mixed nuts. Same price. Mixed nuts. Good, let's go. Went to buy some ham, held my breath. Success! I must have passed the "Choose the Ham" event! OK, I admit there was only one kind. I went back and paid and bagged the groceries. The clerk asked, "How are you getting home?" I answered that I'm walking, to which she told me that my bags were too heavy and if I could just wait 10 minutes, she would drive me home. I thanked her kindly and walked anyway. I needed a moment alone!!!
While it can be a bit over the top sometimes, I do appreciate the sense of community in village life. They are very endearing people. Even the priest took Eamon car shopping, and I get reports from students everyday on when they see me outside of school and how cute my kids are. The odd dynamic (that I am told) is that they share a lot of their lives with one another, but trust is shallow because of the nature of the wars here and sketchy politics that trickle down to the experience of the general public. I find that so sad. However, the people we have drawn close to are absolutely lovely, generous, kind, and hilarious. Everyday is an adventure!