I didn’t mind grocery shopping back in the states. I know plenty of people who hate that job, but not me. However, grocery shopping here in Haiti isn’t so fun. The main reason? We have a huge out door market and it’s not exactly like the quaint ‘outdoor market’/ farmers market we all are used to. If you take away the fresh cut flowers, the free samplings, clean tables displaying goods, and people sauntering about with their dogs-they are basically the same. Our food items are displayed in in what I would describe as opened up rice bags filled with the basics-like flour, sugar, wheat, etc. And make shift tables display goods like mini stores-one table holds all household items, another canned goods, another meat, etc. Whatever scarce produce and veggies you can find are all piled up nicely, but laying on the ground instead of a table. And it sounds like you are at a flea market because there is a hum throughout the whole place-this low murmur of women bantering back and forth. The way these Haitian women negotiate is an art form! I’m of course intimidated, but after the rough markets in Port de Paix, Cap Haitian isn’t that bad! I used to have to simply concentrate on walking the narrow pathways without stepping on food, into a nasty puddle, or running into someone else. I’ve had to get used to arguing over the price of my chicken, rice, beans, cleaning product, everything. And the point is, you have to negotiate. It’s just the way it’s done. You never take the first price, because word will quickly spread among the small booths that you don’t know what you are doing. Trust me, that is experience talking! It’s never too unfriendly, but I have to be on my A game at all times! Thankfully, now Manette will go for me or with me too.
But we also have two grocery stores. That’s right, two. That is two more than we had in Port de Paix. And one even has sliced turkey and sometimes cheese. I know, delightful! It’s about the size of a small 7-11, but it’s like heaven when you can find sometimes find cream cheese, chocolate, baguettes, and on the rare occasion yogurt. The other grocery store is like the size of a normal 7-11, but it doesn’t always have power, so buying things there can be a gamble. I’ve learned-the hard way to only buy a few things there.
We have also discovered the other side of life, that is the other side of the border. Just on the other side of the border, in the Dominican Republic, they have pretty amazing stores! Including but not limited to: a great grocery store, hardware store, pet store, ice cream store, and even a tasty restaurant with high speed internet!! It’s pretty much amazing. We’ve figured out we can hop over there and do some shopping in one day, and hop back. So, a little bit ago, we did just that with some friends.
We took the hour or so drive to the border, parked a car, and all piled out. Everyone brought duffle bags to fill up on goodies we are missing, and heading across. They day was filled with tasty food, shopping at the hardware store for the boys, a mini sad like Kmart, but a haven to us girls(complete with hangers, hair dye, and even some Christmas decorations!!) and ended with everyone at the grocery store. Do you remember that old show, Super Market Sweep? Where they would time couples and race about the grocery store to win a prize? Well, that’s pretty much what it’s like. Because while this store has more than we can ever get in Haiti, it’s not stocked like stores in the US. And therefore, when you spot something you have to go for it. Like tortillas, or tortillas chips, or yogurt. There could be five of those items,or only one. Sometimes you have to be ruthless, and sometimes we’ll each just take one and share with each other-of course it depends on the item! But it was such a fun day, hanging out and doing activities we all miss-even that old chore of grocery shopping!