When you're first starting out as a Peace Corps Volunteer, there's not much to do but integrate, read, and think--especially when your primary job is in the schools which have been out for 6 weeks on summer vacation. Oh sure, we have this community assessment to do, but guess what--anybody whose anybody in this small village is also away having good holiday cheer with their cows at the cattlepost, or at their lands plowing and praying for rain. So, which brings me to thinking about Whole Foods, affectionately known in the good old days as Mrs. Gooches. I wish they would have kept that name, it's so catchy! Anyway, going to Whole Foods was one of my favorite things to do, other than going to Asia of course, which tells ya how exciting my mid life was going! I went nearly everyday, knew everyone there, sometimes I would just go to look at the beautiful and delicious array of fruits and veggies, or chat with friends who frequent there. Fortunately, or unfortunately right now, in this current incarnation, I'm an organic health freak now living in a country that has the world's worst diet. They put margarine, colorings, preservatives in everything and anything, even freshly made bread. It makes me so sick that I can't even have a piece of bread, which is why I'm sitting here daydreaming about Whole Foods.
Going to the supermarket here--we'll call it Choppies--couldn't be more opposite from my Whole Foods experience---it's my least favorite thing to do. There is no market in my village, so I have to take the dreaded kombie ride to either one of two towns. No joke, the other day people were clammering and shoving me away to get on the kombie--you'd think they were running into Shea Stadium to see the Beatles. It was awful, so in an act of desperation, I put the hook of my umbrella around someone's neck so I can get in. Funny, the person could have cared less that I was trying to kill her for a dreaded kombie ride to the dreaded supermarket. Finally, I'm here, in my least favorite place in the world, and Whoa, people are shoving me around, sticking their hands and bodies over me, around me, through me, just to get freakin' can of preserverative ladened whatever. Come on people, how can you be so nice when talking in the villages, and you get in a kombie, or in a store in this case, and you turn into animals? I just don't get it! Onward to make my way to the veggie section, I close my eyes and pray that when I open them I'll be back in Whole Foods, where people are sane--they even say excuse me if bumped, they ask what you're making for dinner, they say hello, they are sooooo normal! My eyes open and reality hits--I'm still in this god foresaken Choppies---maybe if I click my heals 3 times, Santa Clause (if there was one here) will zap me to Whole Foods. Please Santa, it doesn't have to be as far as California, London will do just fine!
Groceries in hand, it is now time to check out, but this can be worse than actually getting your groceries. I compare this to the kombie rides because today, I'm in line and someone puts their groceries in my basket--just like handing over a kid to ya on the bus. Hey lady, whatta ya doing? She looks at me snarling at her, and says, "hold this, I'll be back later." Sure lady, whatever you say! I see that people just take things out they really don't want and put them on the check out stand to sit there probably til closing, so I think I'll put her stuff there too. It's finally my turn to check out, and I'm trying to get my stuff out as the checker is just staring at me--no hello, or how are you like they do at Whole Foods...just, let's get this over with! I forget to weigh an onion, so it's 10 minutes til someone comes back to tell us how much the onion is--you would think she's start ringing up the other items while we wait, but no, the common sense factor is turned off today---next item, the checker yells out "does anyone know how much this costs?" Of course nobody answers, and it's another 10 minutes finding the price of this. I look back at the people in the now longer line, and they all have the same expression on their faces as the checker---BLANK! Ok, this is really fun...I wish someone would start yelling or something---how can they be so crazy in the isles, and on the check out line, so, well, so nothing! Now the lady who put her groceries in my basket returns and shoves her way behind me, smiles at how neatly I threw her stuff on the counter. "Where'd ya go lady, Tokyo?" "Huh!" "Never mind."
It's finally over, but going outside of Choppies is also a fiasco with the so called Black Market selling potatoes and cabbage. Yum! I stop to take this all in and ask myself why on earth the PC didn't send me to Thailand with it's coconuts, vibrant markets, and gentle people I'll never know, but here I am resorting to fantasizing about Whole Foods coming to Botswana!
I wonder what my fellow PCV's have been thinking about this holiday season!