Despite my weekend trip to the grocery store with a neighbor, I awoke this morning to find the cupboards once again bare. I willed the phone to ring with an offer to go together with someone, but alas - the phone remained stubbornly silent. There was nothing to do except hail a cab.
So we walked down to the end of the street, the girls and I, and waited for a cab to happen by.
Now, just so you understand, I'm not entirely comfortable hailing cabs here. Most of the drivers don't speak any English, and they usually don't know where I want to go, even if I provide them with a street address. So it's a little intimidating to just hop in and hope I get where I want to go - and back again.
Food's food, though, so we had to try. And lo - the first cab that pulled over knew exactly what I meant when I said "Cozmo in Sufiyeh," and he took me straight there. (It's probably only a 5-10 minute drive, but it definitely isn't walkable.)
Once there, we encountered the next problem: I was down to my last 60 JD, and my grocery needs were sizable. There was also the problem of knowing exactly how far I would have to lug the groceries in an effort to flag a cab home. So I pulled out the calculator and started adding up prices, with anything expensive or heavy staying out of my cart. Yeast and flour? Absolutely. Olive oil - heavy and expensive - double no. Cans of drinkable coffee? Yes, of course. That's a staple.
We slowly worked our way around the grocery store, the three of us. (Popcorn? Check. Canned beans, check. Baggies? At $5 a box, definitely uncheck.)
We checked out, and I watched in dismay as it took 10 or more bags to hold everything. Had I really bought that much? How on earth was I going to get all of those bags and the girls up the hill to the main road in order to find a cab?
The bagger guy pushed the cart to the door and asked where my car was. "No car," I replied, "I'm going to take a taxi."
He looked at the cart and the girls, and then he told me to wait a minute. He walked up the hill, disappearing around the bend. Five minutes later, as I was beginning to wonder, he returned in a cab, just for me. So kind! Of course I wondered: should I tip him? Or is this just a basic service of the store? I decided to err on the side of tipping. Better, I reasoned, to be known over the next three years as the crazy lady who gives away money rather than the stingy lady who doesn't warrant extra help. Right?
After settling that issue, I bid the bagger guy goodbye and gave the driver my address, which of course he'd never heard of. I pulled out a map to show him the general area. Still no luck. He asked a store employee for help, and the two of them consulted the map together. Still no luck, so another employee was summoned.
Well, they figured it out - but not before a grand total of 7 guys got involved in the discussion.
Home at last. One splurge purchase that found its way into my cart was "katayef." That is apparently the name for these spongy pancakes, about 6 inches in diameter, that are served only during Ramadan. The girls ate these pancakes, smeared with Nutella, for a morning snack. I might have had a few, too. They're pretty good.
After snack we chatted with the boab for 10 minutes or so. He doesn't speak a word of English, and as you might have guessed, I haven't yet started studying Arabic. So our conversation was a bit, shall we say, limited.
His name is Reda (I think), and he's Egyptian. He lives in the basement of our building and handles all of the chores related to the building: mowing the lawn, checking the water and gas tanks, washing the car...
He comes with the house - the landlord is supposed to pay him, but it is expected that we will supplement that pay. I think, because we have a ground floor apartment that requires lots of gardening, he'll end up costing about $100 per month. He seems like a really nice guy, and I'm eager to start studying Arabic if only so I can understand what he's telling me. Today, for example, he must have seen the taxi drop me at the curb with my groceries, because he was trying to give me directions to a close-by store to which I could walk. Would've been nice to understand those directions, don't you think?
Anyway. We're home again, stuffed full of Ramadan pancakes and nutella, and it's time for me to work on unpacking (still not finished) and cleaning (never ending). I have a pot of soup bubbling away on the stove and some veggies soaking in the sink, so I'm halfway through my dinner prep already.
I'm going to park my daughters in front of that childhood classic, "Barbie: A Mermaid's Tale," and power through my chores.