Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I got here on Friday, and the staff member who showed me around showed me a local grocery store, and helped me pick up a few things. But I was a bit overwhelmed, and feeling the effects of being up more or less a full day and a half, so I didn't buy much.

I also started feeling a cold come on during the first flight Thursday, and by the end of the second flight, I pretty much had a good case of the sniffles. At least, I'm guessing it's a cold, since I don't think Malaria starts with sniffles, a stuffy nose, no fever, aches, or whatever else. I hope not, anyway.

Still, having even a bit of a cold has made me very aware of how illiterate I am. In the states, or even in South America, if I needed a pharmacy, I could have seen the familiar mortar and pestle, or Rx symbol. Here? Not a clue. But it's only a cold, and will probably be better in seven days without any cold medicine, or a week with, right?

I took myself to the grocery store today before my meetings started, and did some basic shopping. I was looking for some hard candy to suck on because my throat feels dry from breathing through my mouth. (How do horses deal with really stuffy sinuses? Do they?) I think I found the candy (it had pictures of smiley kids and stuff), but couldn't figure out what might be hard candy, so I skipped.

When I was a teenager, there were these occasional "news" stories about people buying canned dog or cat food and eating it, based on the pictures on the label. I figured out where the dog and cat food cans are in the store, and plan on avoiding those. Helpfully, there are cans labeled "Frisky" in English there. Even I can read that!

I did manage to buy shampoo by apologizing to a store worker and making the universal idiot motion of washing my hair and then pointing to a product. Happily, she spoke good enough English to say "conditioner" and to point me instead to "shampoo." And was kind enough to do so with a smile.

I have a basic rule for shopping: if I'm not sure if it needs cooked or not, I don't get it. I'm happy to eat sashimi or sushi, no problem with raw foods, so long as I know they're supposed to be raw. But if I'm not sure, I skip it.

I also have to be careful to choose things I can cook pretty basically, because it it has directions, I'm not going to be able to read them anyway. So I'm with pretty basic foods.

Except for the prepared foods. I have no idea what I ate for breakfast this morning, but it tasted GREAT! It was a sort of "rice ball" but with a different wrapping than the usual seaweed, almost a doughish wrapping. And it was a combo of sweet and just a tad soy-tasting, with little black dots in among the rice. No idea, but I hope I can find it again!

The cold seems to be on its way out, and the we had lots of students on campus today, so all in all, I'm really looking forward to classes starting and getting well enough to feel like walking around a lot more.


  1. I love these stories! I've lived abroad before, but living in a place where you aren't really even familiar with the alphabet must be a real challenge. Good for you!

  2. It's a good challenge!

  3. can I come over for the weekend??

  4. Sure, come on over!