Yesterday Jonathan and I decided to go to Managua with Angel when he picked up the kids to do some shopping. There are just a few things that really have to be looked for in the big city shopping malls and big box stores. First we wanted to go to Sinsa to get some house and hardware supplies. It is sort of like home depot, but smaller. Also there are about 5 of them within a 1 km radius, each with their own area of specialty. First we were at the hardware one, but we really needed things like pots and pans and laundry baskets. We went to the other one for the home. But it wasn’t the one we had been to before and only had a limited selection of housewares. We pile what we can into the cart. No cast iron frying pans. We wheel over to the check out. No, that isn’t the way it works. We are redirected to a customer service counter so that a store clerk can make a bill up for us. She hand types each SKU into a computer. Now the grocery store in Granada has scanners so I am mystified as to why the big box store in Managua doesn’t. Oh well. She takes a long time and we are in a hurry. Finally it seems she can’t find the number for the $1.50 paint brush (it says so on the price tag) and the $.85 pack of sponges. She begins to read through each item the store has on the computer to find it. Then she says, I’m sorry, you can’t buy it because it isn’t in the computer. But, we say, it is in the store. Sorry she says. Actually, she doesn’t say sorry. She just reiterates that it isn’t there even though the items are clearly there. In exasperation, I say, forget it, we won’t buy them.
We take everything else in our cart over to the checkout where they take our credit card and individually check off each item from the receipt as they but them into bags and staple them shut. I finally sign the slip. Holy shit, I think, 900 cords. That’s so much money. But really it’s not. It’s only about $45 and we got a ton of stuff. I am already adjusting to Nicaraguan prices. As we go out the door, the guard checks off our receipt.
Next stop is the Galerias Santo Domingo which one of the nicest malls in Managua. It’s like Northgate mall in Seattle if it only had Macy’s and a random assortment of clothing stores and the carts selling soap in the middle. First we go to the stationary store to look for the ever elusive lined loose leaf 3 ring binder paper. Oh so sorry, we haven’t had that in a long time. Then we go to Siman’s which is very expensive, but basically like the Bon. Trying to find a cast iron pan and cake pans. They only have sets of pans and cast aluminum frying pans. The cake pans are sold in weird sets ie one round cake pan and a square one with a muffin pan. But since I’m looking for either a rectangle or 2 round pans I pass on them. I pick out a set of red Kitchen-aid skillets. 65! Someone comes over and takes the skillets and the pyrex dish over to a sales counter and writes her commission number on the tag. I pick out a cutting board and add it to the pile. Another sales woman comes over and picks up my pile and directs me over to another cash register. She scratches out the other woman’s numbers and adds hers. They slowly ring us up (scanner) ask for my passport but get my drivers license, double check the receipt, put everything in plastic bags and secure them with those plastic ties that can only be removed with scissors and staple the receipt to the bag. We try to go to radio shack to look for alarm clocks because they didn’t have them at Siman, or Sinsa. It’s closed for inventory. Frustrating, because the one in Granada was closed for inventory last Saturday.
I check the sporting goods store for a gel bike seat for Jonathan’s anniversary present. No he says with a shake of his head. Anywhere else in Managua I ask? He tells me about a mountain bike store somewhere and describes where it is and keeps asking me if I know that place. Yes, yes I say even though it is clear to both of us that I don’t have a clue. I am too tired to slow down and ask again, so I just leave. This whole time, we have pretty much been the only customers in the entire mall.
It has started to rain very heavily so we wait in the parking garage for the rain to let up a bit and then we dash over the Hiper Colonia Supermarket. No alarm clocks, but we get bags of chocolate chips for 4 dollars a bag. We rush through to meet Angel and the kids. They pack our many plastic bags holding one or two items along with all of our other bags on the special wheel the bags to the car cart and the bagger in the cheery red colonia smock rolls our stuff out. We explain that we may have to wait as much as ten minutes and give him a tip so he can go back and carry someone elses bags out but he decides to wait with us. Jonathan decides to run back over to Siman’s to see if they have a step on garbage can because the cats are getting into ours at night. (No we don’t have cats.)
I run through my limited small talk with the bag boy so he makes a few cell phone calls. It starts to dump rain, blowing sideways over us even though we are under a roof. It is entertaining to watch all of the folks walk back in forth from their cars in the rain. The bag boys pull out umbrellas to walk people to their car. I watch a woman walk in with her maid who is wearing a black uniform and carrying the umbrella.
Kids haven’t shown up. It’s a really hard rain. Jonathan calls on the cell to say pick me up on the other side of the mall. I call Jules who has no idea where they are and didn’t know they were supposed to pick us up, but it is Noah’s fault that they are late. Jonathan runs over through the rain with a step on garbage can on sale for $40. Finally they show up and we cram into the back seat with Noah and Hobbes. Water is running like a river down the street as we drive home. It is so nice not to be driving.