Recently the boys were watching an Arthur DVD (the aardvark from PBS). The episode was opposite day and everything was the opposite, for example, they would say goodbye to greet someone instead of hello. That’s the best way to describe many of the differences between our home country and our host country. It’s funny how in the States one has to pay more for organic or all natural foods and processed foods are very cheap, but here you can get all the produce, vegetables and peanuts you want cheap, but will pay extremely high prices for ham slices, hot dogs, potato chips, canned goods, etc… We splurge and every once and awhile will purchase hotdogs (about $22 for 20 hotdogs) and I ration them by cutting them into smaller pieces and mixing them into other things like stir fry’s. Today I got a great deal on ham (it was only 7995 fcfa, which is $17.76 per kilo = 2.2 lbs). This was marked down from 9995 per kilo. This is the low end, not the superior ham. Then, much to the delight of our boys, potato chips were on sale too! They were only 990 ($2.20) per bag (the bags here are a little bigger than the big grab bags in the States). So tonight we are having a very familiar and comforting meal that the boys are already bragging to their friends about …. ham sandwiches and potato chips! (Now if we could only have yellow mustard and dill spears to go with it we would be in hog heaven)
Food is not the only area where things are opposite of the States. In the States one pays a premium for services, for example, tailor/seam stress, doctors visit, cleaning, shoe repair, haircuts, etc…, but goods are inexpensive compared to services. Here services are very reasonable, but goods are expensive in comparison to services. I can have a dress made for 2000 ($4.44), but if I want dress shoes to go with it, I could find a cheap pair for 15000 ($33.33). I can get the same pair of shoes repaired for 300 ($0.66).