I found the Walmart. (That may be the most American thing I have ever said.) The lease to the apartment was finally signed and Tuesday marked the first day of living
at Jose Maria Monterey 3083 apartment #602. I didn’t get into the apartment until 5:30pm; therefore, I called my mother for a Facetime tour, opened every cupboard and turned on every light (only to turn them right off again because electricity is EXPENSIVE here!). I also took a mental inventory of what the apartment came with (most kitchen supplies) and what I was lacking (trash cans). That evening I was so ramped up I could barely sleep. Plus, my first time in a brand new place, no matter how excited I am to live here, is a little spooky. Really the first two weeks I know I will be checking the locks three or four times and waking to every flushed toilette from the apartment above me. Regardless, I am here and officially living in my dream apartment!
So, the next day our WONDERFUL maintenance director, Adrian, brought my trunks to the apartment. While waiting for him, I met my morning security doorman, Daniel. Although we don’t speak each other’s language, we managed to google translate our way through a conversation. I found out all sorts of things about him, including he has worked for my building for ten years. He is so helpful and lovely! Anyway, the wonderful wizard de Adrian brought my clothes – you have not idea how excited I am about new and clean clothes – and I had about 30 minutes to get ready before my bus.
When I got to school, I heard that the new math teacher and his wife were going to the megastore Geant [pr. GeeAunt – but aunt as in Boston pronunciation not ant]. The elementary counselor lives right by it and offered us a ride. SIDE NOTE: you will read me expressing my amazement about the kindness of the people here over and over again. But really, the Uruguayans are the nicest people I have ever come across. They even have the southerners beat by a long shot! So Marisa not only gave us a ride to the store, but came in with us to ask where we could get the discount cards. Let me say that again, she took 20 minutes of her time to be our translator just because she wanted to. The fact that I am shocked by this makes me very sad for my own cultural upbringing. Anyways, she helped us get the discount card, and off we were to the races.
Let me explain the craziness that is Geant.
Think Walmart (they have everything for cheap prices) BUT the people shopping there are normal. There is no “People Of Geant” website. They also switch between US dollar prices and pesos, so you have to be paying attention. For example, the trash cans
I bought were $350 (pesos) but the coffee maker was U$S 54.50 (dollars). Most appliances and electronics are in dollars and the only difference is putting the US around the symbol. My school gave me U$S 6000 to relocate, so I went a bit crazy and bought most things that I needed – trash cans, cleaning supplies, bath mats, candles, more kitchen stuff I was lacking, laundry detergent, etc.
By the time I got up to the cash register, my cart was full and I was in panic mode. How the hell was I going to get all this home?! Also, the lady told me my total was $11, 654 and I almost had a heart-attack until I realized it was pesos. Still, when they say things are expensive here, they mean it! That was roughly U$S 400!
Then came the kicker…the calling of the Uber. I am not proficient enough to ask for delivery, which is totally a thing here. You can deliver ANYTHING to your place. So I called the Uber and Paulo had the great fortune of being my driver. Not only did he help me get my stuff into the car, but he graciously talked with me the entire time in baby Spanish. You see, every time I am in a one-on-one situation with a native, I ask them to speak Spanish with me so I can practice. Por favor, habla espanol con me porque yo vivo aqui ahora y necessito practicar. Esta bien? I have yet to have a person turn me down, even though I am constantly having to ask for words. Paulo was amazing because he also spoke English, which means he could tell me what I meant when I messed up. The Uber was a good 35 minutes (but only U$S 14 – gotta love ride-shares) so I got plenty of practice. And then, typical Uruguayan…Paulo and my night security man Lionel, helped me unload all the bags AND carry them into my apartment! Again, the UBER DRIVER turned off his car and helped a complete stranger carry groceries. I can’t even!
So thanks to Geant, I am a little more settled. Now I just need to figure out food shopping!