Day 2: A Failed Exploration

After ten hours of sleep, and another half-hour of lying on the bed because I was too lazy to move, I finally decided to get up and explore the city. Of course, like the expert that I am, I promptly got lost and somehow managed to find a dead-end. After doubling back, I took the direction I’d originally planned on going in, but had decided not to because it meant that I’d have to walk down and then back up a giant slope.

When I reached the bottom of the hill, I found the little supermarket, Leader Price, my contact had pointed out to me yesterday when I’d been too sleep-deprived and jetlagged to remember much. Even going shopping was an adventure here:

The store has an upstairs—where all the produce items are—and a downstairs, where packaged foods and household items are. To go up or down a level, you use these weird escalator ramps—think of an escalator, but without stairs. Eggs and milk aren’t refrigerated. The eggs are still in cartons, but they just sit on a rack. Milk is either bottled or boxed, and the bottles come in packages of six or eight, but you can take however many bottles you want. Nutella is a different color—instead of a dark chocolate-y brown, it’s like a light tannish brown (almost peanut-butter-colored), and it comes in massive jars. (Edit: Apparently I’m blind when I’m tired. Nutella’s still in a 1kg jar, but it’s just a slightly lighter shade than US Nutella.) I thought I’d found a pastry covered in powdered sugar—turns out it was a pork sausage. There was some man angrily shouting at a cashier, and everyone was pretty much staring at him. While rooting through my euro coins for twenty-two cents, I nearly handed over a penny.

After I successfully paid—without American money—I started walking back up the massive slope. Along the way, I passed a guy who looked like he was struggling to lug three grocery bags and a box of beer up the hill. I wanted to stop and ask if he needed help, but my brain decided it couldn’t remember how to ask that in French, so I trudged on.

By the time I reached the top of the slope, I grumbled to myself when I realized that I’d have to walk up another hill. When I reached the top of that hill, I almost stopped and groaned. My mouth and throat were dry, my legs burning, and the sun relentlessly hot. But I had to go up another hill. It was ridiculously exhausting.

Finally, I stumbled into my room and resolved to never leave it again. A promise that I immediately rescinded, because if I trap myself in my room, there goes my Internet and means of obtaining food. (I have to scrounge around the city for meals, since the university restaurant isn’t open yet.) Sadly, by the time I realized that I’d need enough food to feed myself until the restaurant opens, I was too tired to leave the room.

Of course, that didn’t stop me from staying in my room for the rest of the day. At least I unpacked everything—that counts as being productive, right? Plus, I figured I deserved some recuperation time.


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