After the bus brought the kids home, I took Alexis grocery shopping and left the boys at home with our Steward Immaculata. (Yes, I know you are getting jealous that for pennies per day I no longer have to pick up after myself like a decent human being.) I took Alexis shopping, not because I needed the help, just the emotional support that comes from having a little friend with me. Girls, it's the same reason we go to the bathroom in packs....you understand!
I didn't want to haggle about prices today, so I went to one of the few stores that have "Set Prices". There is something comforting about a "Set Price"! Even if it's an extremely high price, it's reassuring to know that everyone is getting screwed equally! Because I left our housekeeper at home, I would have been at a severe disadvantage. There is a local price, then a price for the Americans. ....generally 2-3 times the local price. My housekeeper can get the local price, as long as she isn't seen with me. The minute then they know it's an American's money she is spending and we are out of luck.
So, we decided on the grocery store where everyone is at equal disadvantage, making me feel more comfortable (because of course, misery loves company). The parking lot, was blocked with guards and in order to enter you had to pop your trunk and have your car searched. They motioned for me to roll down my window, allowing me to practice the stern glare and head-shake that Tyson and I had rehearsed. I pointed to the Red license plates meaning I can't be stopped or searched because of diplomatic status. I'm not even supposed to crack open a window for anyone...citizen, police, or beggar.
As we entered the store I was immediately aware of the commotion we created. In particular, a mother with her two kids were openly gawking at us. Alexis, completely unaware was followed through the store by giggling kids trying to catch a glimpse of her unruly blond hair. One mom had to yell at her kids to stop chasing us, but it didn't end. Alexis became aware that she was the spectacle when a boy her age ran up to her from behind, tapped her, and sprinted back to his hiding spot behind the boxes of milk. Then the entire aisle of canned goods erupted into squeals and laughter. This continued the entire time..people staring and kids double-daring! Even as we left I overheard one of the kids say, "Mom, the white people are following us". I laughed and said, "Yep! You better watch out or we will follow you home!"
Everyone carries thing on their heads! It is AMAZING!!! It's not just the extremely nimble, well balanced, acrobat types...It's everyone! They have somehow mastered their balance to be able to carry extremely large loads on their heads often with no help of their arms. I did a little internet research to find that it is actually the most efficient way to carry a big load. It centers the load over your core, minimizing the strength necesarry to hold it. WOW, not so crazy!
Leaving the parking lot of an office building yesterday I saw a huge tortoise strolling near the curb. In awe of the ancient majestic shelled creature, I pulled over to take a picture and to make sure I didn't run him down with my car. The others nearby glanced to see what the excitement was over. I'm sure they thought, "oh just a turtle"!
And probably "no big deal" that Bananas are just growing on the tree in the front yard... Just an everyday occurrence here, but remarkable to me.
And of Course the "Tuk Tuk"! If you think skydiving or bungee jumping is an adrenaline rush, try putting your life into the hands of a Nigerian Taxi driver.....on three wheels! Few things would get you into the next life faster!
I guess the bottom line is, One man's "normal" is another man's "Absurd!"