Thursday, January 26, 2012

Adventures in Shopping

So, earlier this month Tom took off for the bush with some friends of ours. He was invited to be part of a preaching/teaching team that went so far in the Zambian bush they were nearly in Angola. Take a look at the map below, keeping in mind that Zambia is about the size of Texas. (International readers, I apologize that that doesn't really work as a frame of reference for you.--Texas is our second largest state.) The story of his trip will be coming soon.

Because he was gone for ten days this meant we skipped two shopping days. By the time we were able to make it to Mansa it had been over two weeks since we had shopped. Old Mother Hubbard's cupboards were BARE.

Tom only got home on Saturday morning so our first opportunity to shop was on Monday. Not wanting to have to get back on the road on Friday again just to get back on schedule, we decided to buy two weeks worth of food.

I filled four carts with food and supplies. Even though I'd left my carefully crafted list at home, I managed to finish the whole thing in around 1 hour with the help of a couple phone calls to Jasmine. Before going through the check out lane, I went to the manager's office to pay our grocery bill for last month. 
Rather than paying cash each week we use a business card and pay our bill at the end of each month. Just as we finished counting out the pile of cash*, the power went off. Thankful I had remembered to slip my headlamp into my purse that morning, I turned it on and we waited in the dim light for power to be restored. 
About 15 minutes later the store decided to turn on their generator. We could now see, but there was still no progress on our bill being paid. We soon found out why. None of the computers in the store had come back up. Managers were rushing around trying to figure out the problem but they couldn't fix it. A whole hour went by before regular power came back on and the computers began to reboot.

* our largest Kwacha bill is only worth $10 so even $200 is a decent size stack--you can imagine the stack needed to pay for a month's worth of food for 30 people

Once the computers were on, the cashier slowly began scanning our purchases and we loaded them carefully into our reusable shopping bags.When packing our groceries into the bags, we have to be careful so they survive the bumpy ride home.

Finally, everything was scanned and packed. I handed the manager our business card so he could process our payment and then place the new purchase on the car. Trouble was--the card wouldn't work. He scanned it again and again before it finally went through. Breathing a sigh of relief, I turned to go. But no! That was for the bill. Now we had to pay for this purchase. Again he struggled to scan the card. Again and again he ran it through the machine until the computer responded and then spat out our receipt. and what a receipt it was!

Sandra was our shopping buddy that day
 When we finally exited the store and into the fresh air, we had been in the store for 4 hours!

Back in December when Tom and I went to Lusaka, we popped into the grocery store there for a few items that can't be found in Mansa. I had jotted them down in my planner.

This is my cart when I reached the check out stand. 

There seems to be more than five items in my cart. Does this ever happen to you?


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