**Photos are forthcoming. The school’s still working on setting up my internet so they ask I don’t use too much data by downloading/uploading on a temporary plan.**
No matter how I prepare myself I get thrown when people address me in Spanish. It’s what I need because the Spanish I thought was good is struggling right now. I practice Spanish with a friendly security guard, bilingual co-workers, and when I go shopping.
Lines at the stores the new hires went to together were long and moved slower than a grandma without her cane. I have to give my passport as identification before I can check out. I buy items I don’t want right now (i.e., toilet paper, butter, and chicken) because of previous shortages. I couldn’t find salt, mayonnaise, or baking soda at the grocery store we went to but there were Corn Flakes and Reynolds aluminum foil! My cooking and baking will change, and that’s fine. That’s the point.
I am still getting used to the conversion rate too. After buying some cleaning supplies my bill was over $1,000 bolivares fuertes. Huh? A sign for an ironing board read 586 bolivares. I think it did. Some items aren’t marked. Along with Spanish, my mental math and understanding of economic forces will be improving. One expatriate told me inflation skyrocketed once Chavez died.
I’m not a big shopper, but I decided I needed to get at least one more pair of pants before school started. After the congenial cashier at the hardware store—smiles definitely translate—told me I still needed to pay 500 more bolivares, I was confident enough to run into the adjoining department store for some dress pants. I attempted to ask for the dressing room and was met with bullet train fast Spanish. I couldn’t catch one word. The cashiers paused and looked at me. I paused and looked at them. An awkward silence followed before I finally pointed to my pants and said “¿Vestir?”
“Aaahhh….” they both said, throwing up their hands at the same time. They spoke to me in bullet train fast Spanish again while motioning towards a different part of the store. I eventually found the changing room and was relieved the pants fit. When I returned, the woman smiled and asked if everything was OK. I responded in the affirmative and walked out with a new pair of pants and a teeny bit more confidence.