I have been wanting to do a better job at communicating about life here - not just snippets but really give better pictures of our life here. It’s hard for anyone to connect with something if they can’t see or experience it themselves. How do you communicate about life in a country none of your friends or family have been too (yet!)? :)
So my organized left-brain came up with a system for this :) I am going to do little blogs that talk about specific areas of life here. I will do topics like Grocery Shopping, Going to the Post Office, Driving, School, Team Life etc so that I can expound on that area of life here, share stories and interesting facts and answer questions if you have any. Hopefully it will be fun!
So today - Grocery Shopping! There are two main grocery stores here in Tahiti. Unlike the states we have very little choice when it comes to where to shop. In my hometown of Lititz there are 3 large grocery stores within a mile of each other! Not so here! The two largest chains are Carrefour (a French store) and Champion. Champion is the closest to us and it was the one we walked to during our 9 months without a car. It’s the smaller of the two but we were so grateful for Champion and it had a decent stock including a small deli and cheese counter. Carrefour is more like the Super Walmart of Tahiti. A large grocery section but also has household items, cleaning supplies, school supplies, toys, small appliances and clothing.
My first 6 months of shopping here were difficult - A. because we walked and B. it was just a very draining exercise learning what things were called (everything is in French), figuring out what was available and needing to stick to a strict list because of the cost of food here. Shopping is getting easier as I go - I’m much more familiar with things, I know a lot of French food vocabulary now and I don’t feel so intimidated if I have to ask for help. My current obstacle is now figuring out the seasons for different things - when things (especially different produce) are in and when I can’t count on them anymore for meals.
My funniest shopping blunder so far was walking almost the entire way home from Champion (about 1 1/2 miles away) with a large upright laundry basket (that we actually use as a garbage can….actual garbage cans are crazy expensive here!) with about 40 pounds of groceries in it. We had an outreach team here and so had run a few loads of people back and forth to do some shopping. I thought I got left behind (which would have been easy to do because we had several van loads going back and forth) so I decided instead of waiting around another 15 minutes to find out that, yes, I had indeed been left behind I just decided to walk. I had bought more groceries than I would normally if walking by myself because I had planned on riding home. The whole time I walked I was just praying the van would drive by, see me and pick me up. I got within 7 minutes of our apartment when I local friend and her husband pulled up and she was like, “Erin, what in the world are you doing?” I told her that I couldn’t find the team at the store so I figured I had been left. She then informed me that she had just been at the grocery store, seen some of the team and they were still shopping! Oy vey! So anyway, they kindly gave me a lift the rest of the way - which was lovely because I was definitely struggling and the last little bit home was up hill! :)
Interesting food facts: Tahiti bees are only able to keep up with about 40% of the honey demand of the island. Therefore it is EXTREMELY rare to see honey here and when you do it is very expensive! Much of the honey gets bought up by hotels and such long before it’s even harvested so it doesn’t even make it to store shelves. Also, it is banned to mail or bring honey into French Polynesia - they won’t import it because they don’t want anything contaminating their bees. The bees here have no diseases here and they want to keep it that way.