Thursday, December 11, 2014
buying my odds and ends
We expatriates just love to give people advice.
Take my friend Barbara. When I mentioned that I was amazed at how much money I was spending to simply set up my new house, she bucked up my spirits with a sprightly "Just wait."
Well, I have not had to wait long. I have been putting off a trip to Manzanillo to purchase some odds and ends that I cannot readily find in our little coastal villages. The list was growing, but there was nothing on it that needed immediate attention.
A hose winder. A voltage regulator for the new television. USB cables. A digital tire gauge. A set of gift cutlery. Bulk soap and cleanser.
Even though I drove to Manzanillo each week to pick up my mail during my first year in Mexico, I have come to dread the drive. "Dread" is not the correct word. "Avoid" would be better. But "dread" works far better with "drive," doesn't it?
For some reason, even though I almost always have a shopping list for these ventures south, I end up returning with far more than I intended. What I came back with yesterday was a fistful of receipts and an Escape filled with nothing memorable. And I left about $3700 (Mx) behind. Only about $255 (US) at this month's incredibly favorable exchange rate. In Salem, that would have been chump change.
I managed to find everything (and a few additional goodies like lemons, cherry tomatoes, and South African peppers for another Greek salad, and several packages of Italian pasta). Everything, that is, except USB cables. No one had them. Not Walmart. Not Comercial Mexicana. Not Sam's Club. Not Soriana. Not even Office Depot.
But that is the way of Mexican stores. If something is missing from one, it seems to be missing from all others. And it can be the simplest of items. Like USB cables. Or garlic. A few days ago, I traipsed to five different neighborhood markets. None of them had garlic.
I even stopped at a furniture store yesterday for a premature look at dining tables. I think I know what I want. But until I can fit it into an entire look for the house, I do not want to jump the gun.
What I did discover is that Manzanillo is not where I should be looking. I am not looking for Ethan Allen. And that is not what I found. But I do have a vague idea of what I want in quality. It was not in Manzanillo.
My problem is that I despise shopping. I have the instincts of a hunter. I want to know my prey, to spend as little time as possible stalking it, and to then shoot it with a clean kill shot. Traipsing through store after store does not fit that model.
You can see how fitting out my house may turn out to be a bit frustrating for me.
But I will bide my time. And continue to race the Escape down the coastal highway to Manzanillo to simply grab the occasional odd and end of life.
It is certainly better than having a job.