Monday, August 20, 2007


Yesterday I had to run to the grocery to get a few things. Kroger is not usually my friend, but it's close by so I decided to go there anyways. I was almost done with my shopping when something in the household cleaning aisle caught my eye. I started to walk towards the item when I was stopped in my tracks as my nose caught a whiff of a smell I haven't smelled in some time. Two and a half years actually.

The smell of a particular detergent (I don't even know what it was) immediately transported me to the aisles of Pick-N-Pay in Okahandja, Namibia where Cale and I lived from October 2004 to January 2005. Pick-n-Pay was a part of our daily existence as it was literally a stones throw from where we lived. We made almost daily trips there for brotchen (rolls) and fruit. We spent our mornings working in the office for Christ's Hope International and would get an hour break for lunch. We loved the fresh brotchen for sandwiches for lunch. And by fresh I mean, like hot out of the oven fresh. You can smell the baking bread before you even got in the store.

The view from our roof across the lot to Pick-N-Pay

We spent lots of time in that little grocery store. Initially because I was trying to figure out what ingredients I could get to cook with. The only problem was that new stuff would come and go and sometimes if I had planned on cooking chicken, there was no chicken to be had! I learned how to be resourceful in a whole new way. Our staples included yogurt drinks for Cale, muesli for breakfast, chutney for cheese sandwiches, Drink-O-Pop (like Kool-aid, but you don't add sugar) and pasta. We ate lots of pasta. Our occasional splurge was on a 2 liter of Coke or Sprite. They were almost $3 a piece, so it was definitely not an everyday purchase. Our favorite meal was french bread pizzas. Sometimes we would have to get creative because the store wouldn't have mozzarella that day.

(And as an aside, I realize how fortunate we were to be in a small town in Namibia and have access to a grocery store at all. I spent 3 months of a previous life living in a village in Benin, West Africa where we had to drive for 30 minutes to pick up basic provisions. Butter was our luxury item in those days and since bread made up 2 out of 3 of our meals, we appreciated every last speck of it. )

I remember travelling around Christmas and getting back to our flat in the late afternoon on Christmas Eve. Pick-N-Pay was closing in half and hour and would be closed for the next several days. We made a mad dash over there stocking up on supplies while also buying food for our Christmas potluck. There were so many people jammed in the store. We had someone just get in line (there were 2 checkouts) while the rest of us picked out our items. We bought the last watermelon to be had, the last of the potatoes, the bananas were already gone and there was no meat to be found. It was a crazy experience!

Maybe Kroger isn't so bad after all!

1 comment:

jess said...

you gave me flashbacks of my time in africa sauce was our luxury in tanzania...we put it on everything...believe it or not, part of me misses that simpler life.