Oh, what an afternoon. It was the day that wouldn’t stop. It’s 7:30 and I just got home. School ended four hours ago. Where have I been, you might ask? Answer: mostly at the grocery store. Trips to the grocery are supposed to be nice and easy. Walk in, grab what you need (and what you don’t,) pay, leave. And basically, that’s what happened. But somewhere in the past two hours and a half hours since I left school, I got trapped at Paulistao, the backwards grocery fairly close (in a ‘not really’ kind of way) near my house.
Turns out I’m going camping this weekend and so, in the process of dropping off a friend via cab at her apartment, a camping companion and I thought we’d hike over to Paulistao, pick up the food we need for the weekend, and then hightail it out by cab again to our homes. I knew it was a mistake the moment we entered the fruit section of the giant store and saw, much to the dismay of my tired high-heeled feet, a long line of individuals with gigantic bags of fruit waiting for said bags to get weighed. Yes, here at Paulistao, one must wait in a “Weigh the Fruit” line before waiting in line to pay for groceries. You’re probably saying, “Hey, that’s backwards! That doesn’t make a lick of sense! Wait in a line before waiting in another line? Absurdity!”
Welcome to Paulistao, Brazil. There is no explanation for this process. Seems like we could streamline the whole shopping experience by adding a scale at checkout. I might be crazy, but then again, I’m American, and used to interacting with as few humans as possible during any kind of shopping ordeal. To have to go through not one but two people to get my groceries seems like a task of Homeric proportions.
So there we are, realizing we are a few scant kilometers from our apartments and needing to wait in line to weigh the 6 limes, 3 zucchini, and 5 apples. It is five o’clock and we are in a rush to get going because I don’t know anyone who wants to be at the grocery at five o’clock when rush hour is fast approaching. I grab what I need to grab and we head for checkout. Ninety reais later and we’re out the door where we are met with the brutal reality of Campinas rush-hour traffic: moving at a snail’s pace and honking the whole way. Bus doors packed solid with sweaty tired people open their doors wide to let in fresh air. I do not even remotely envy those people on the bus. We call a cab and wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. We make small talk. And we wait. Basically, we wait. More waiting. Forty minutes of waiting. Meanwhile, as we stand outside of the doorway of the supermarket, we are continually sprayed every minute with a fine mist of water meant to be some kind of air conditioning. This cooling system is throughout the whole store so while it made sense to have water spraying over the fruits and veggies, it made absolutely no sense whatsoever to have it spraying over the aisles with cat litter, the ones with paper products, and over the deli section, misting over pork chops and cows’ intestines. Again, maybe I’m crazy, but it’s probably not a good idea to be making dry goods and fresh meat wet with water from overhead.
(I know I’m sounding agitated. It’s because I am.)
When the cab finally arrives, we wait in traffic for another twenty minutes. Had we not been burdened with bags of groceries and huge jugs of water we could have walked it no problem–maybe our apartments were ten blocks away. But traffic here in Campinas in the two-lane roads is mind-boggling and by the time we got to my apartment the cab fare was over fifteen reais. It doesn’t even cost that much to get to school. Or to the bus station. I know these reference points mean nothing to you if you’ve never been here, so go back and read that paragraph again with the disbelief in your voice that you might read if you were to read this sentence: “It cost three hundred dollars to take a cab from my doorstep to my neighbor’s house.” That should be the kind of stinging disbelief I felt this evening. (Of course, if you’re in
the country and your neighbor is really far away, this sentence has no meaning for you either. For that, I apologize and hope you never have to experience traffic like city folks do.)
And then? Home sweet home. I frantically put my groceries away and ate a peach without thinking. I ate the peach and then when I was half-way through realized that peaches are, by far, my favorite fruit to eat on their own. Here’s why: when they’re ripe (like Jersey peaches) they are divine. The closest thing to perfection I’ve ever tasted. You can eat the whole thing no problem and also when the peach is ripe, you can pull the fruit right off from around the pit and just toss it away. Peaches are fabulous.
I also ate a fig, or tried to anyway because it had already started to go bad. This disappointed me to no end and so it was then I decided to write a post about my love of peaches. This was what I wanted to write about but I guess I got side tracked.
And you…? Your nightmare grocery store story? Your favorite fruit?