May 09, 2015

Adventures in Shopping

In just a few weeks, our family will be heading to the U.S. for a short summer furlough.  After a challenging two years that included a movevarious community crisesnoise adjustmentsagingdealing with inebriated peopleadjusting to D's new travel schedule, and a busy teaching schedule, I am feeling super ready for a break.  One of the things I always enjoy and look forward to is the U.S. shopping experience.  I can't wait to shop in a climate-controlled, clean grocery store that has everything I need IN ONE PLACE.  Or to go clothes-shopping and find clothes that actually fit me.  Luxury.

It's a far cry from the shopping I do here, which is adventurous at best.  I usually get groceries from the local pasar (open market) plus several other stores and the experience is spread out over several days.  Shopping for clothes is very hit or miss, as sizes are different and we just don't have petite Asian bodies.  Recently during a jeans-shopping excursion with my daughter, we couldn't find anything longer than 28. 

And yet, despite the shopping challenges, we continue to eat well and to accumulate stuff.  It's embarrassing.  Today we were able to download some of our excess at the community Barang Sale. [barang is one of those great Indonesian words that doesn't have an exact English translation; we use it to mean "stuff," "things," "junk," and "jive," as in, "Carter, get your barang off the coffee table."] The sale is held at the kids' school, and the local expat community, along with local friends and workers, turn out in force.  Our goal was to leave with less than we brought, because inevitably the kids (ahem, and not just the kids) see other people's barang they want.  

The hordes waiting to get in
 As my friend, who was manning a table next to mine, philosophically mused, "It's not so much a sale as it is a missionary swap."  We sold lots of clothes, and came home with two surfboards.  

Over the past few months I've fallen into a Saturday morning pasar shopping routine with my friend Libby. The pasar is not the best-smelling place, and it can be rather warm, and if you're claustrophobic you would hate it.  Other than that, it's the best place to find fresh food. I took my camera along last week and got these shots:

This lady has a sweet smile.  She usually adds in a few extra tomatoes to my bag.

Did I mention it was smelly?  This is one of the contributors: dried fish.
Below are two ladies selling cones of sago, which are cooked into a thick porridge called papeda, a local dish with the consistency of glue.
This is where plastic bags go to die.
This is my chicken man.  Note the blue money lying right next to the entrails.  Lovely.  He cuts up the chicken however I want it.  If it's a big order and he can't do the math in his head to figure out the cost, he uses his finger to "write" in the chicken juice on the table.
I've never actually bought one of the bundles below, but I think they're cool.  Little bunches of the spices, chiles, and leaves you need to make a certain dish.
This is my coconut lady.  For about 30 cents you can buy a small bag of freshly grated coconut. Hello, coconut cream pie.
This photo shows some of the produce available: guavas, bananas, corn, pineapples, cucumbers, and jackfruit.
In addition to sago, sweet potatoes are a staple of many locals' diets.
I love greens.  For about 80 cents a bunch, you can get the green of your choice.  I'm partial to the type in the middle.
Just bought your veggies and suddenly decide you need to get your pants hemmed?  No problem.  There's a tailor at the pasar.
Libby and I usually hire a guy with a wheelbarrow to follow us and help schlep our stuff around.
 The rest of the pasar experience is continued at home, where I spend a few hours putting everything away.  It's a lot of work, but I'm thankful for what we can get.