First Impressions of a Recent Expat
Trip Start Sep 17, 2013
2Trip End May 31, 2014
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Food: I'm enjoying half and half in my tea, but I can't find much good tea. The only decent tea available in the shops is Twinings, and it comes in boxes of 20. That's enough to last about half a week. Other brands of tea available include Lipton, Luzianne, Bigelow, and Celestial Seasonings. The first three are undrinkable and the fourth is herbal teas.
There are too many types of salsa to try them all. I'm starting off on a tasting survey of salsas, just like I did with my tea survey at Woolworths in Rutherford
There is only a tiny section of frozen potato foods in the grocery store. I missed the potato gems the first time I searched for them because there are so few types of frozen potatoes in the freezer at the store here. On the other hand, there are so many different brands and different flavours within each brand of ice cream available that the ice cream section fills an aisle at the store. Frozen meals fill another complete aisle. They seem to be mostly Mexican and Italian meals.
There are heaps more corn chips and far fewer flavoured potato chips than in Woolworths. Cheeses are both different and the same. Almost all tasty cheeses are dyed yellow, and you have to search to find an un-dyed one. There is a lot of queso fresco, queso blanco, and queso manchego, but that is because we are so close to the Mexican border. The kids are enjoying Colby-Jack cheese in their quesadillas, though they and their friends loved quesadillas with vintage cheese in Rutherford. Cheddar cheese is equally common in both countries, but the names are completely different
There is no Vegemite, and there is no lamb or meat-counter-prepared chicken schnitzel. I really miss the lamb, and I got schnitzel recipes from a dozen friends who always made their own, so we're better off there. I guess we'll have to live without the Vegemite and the lamb . . .
Grocery stores here include the bottle shop, and more than half the mornings when I've stopped by after dropping the kids at school I'm in line behind a person with a flat of beer cans and a big bottle of whisky. I'm talking like two liters or larger. This is at 8:15 a.m. There is nothing else in their shopping order. I wonder what their day will be like.
Traffic: The funniest thing is watching traffic during the morning and afternoon when school is beginning and ending. The main roads that pass anywhere near schools have unattended zebra stripes, and flashing yellow lights that direct traffic to travel 20 km/hour when flashing. I've never seen a child or any pedestrian, in fact, at any one of the many crossings in the town. Imagine traffic on the New England Highway traveling for at least one kilometer at 20 km/hour. Watching the cars is like watching a slow-motion movie.
The town is full of four-way stop signs
When I'm approaching my car in a parking lot, I have to look carefully and think about which side I'm going to find the steering wheel on. This is the same problem I had in Rutherford in the early days! For the first six months there I always paid for my fuel, walked back to my car and opened the passenger door. After staring into the car in surprise, I had to close the door and walk around to the driver's side. Here I stop a few steps away and look the car over first. Then I approach it slowly and carefully. If you didn't know any better, you would think I was expecting to find a bomb. Yesterday Liam and I were at the shops. He got into the backseat of the car, and when I got in the front, he told me I was in the wrong side. He had gotten used to seeing me driving on the right side of the car.
Let me know what other topics you would like to know about. Next I'll write about school and money.