No, this is not a post about The Gambia battling it out with the United States but a post on the differences in shopping. Having just returned to The Gambia from my quick trip to the US an extensive grocery trip was a necessity although I admit I brought a lot of stuff back with me thanks to Amazon. This morning myself and a short termer who came with me headed out to do some serious shopping. The day started at a money exchanging place, then on to the Cell phone company, three grocery stores and of course lunch. The differences in the shopping experiences are too many to count, but I decided to list a few for your enjoyment:
- We are a cash based society. That means we have to go to the money changing place first, wait about 45 minutes while someone goes to get the money we need before we can even begin the shopping and you better have a big purse to carry all those bills! Our short termer learned quickly how to separate the money out into stacks of 10 to make payments easier.
- No such thing as Amazon, Walmart or anything like that here. We do have most essentials, but it involves driving to several different small stores and hoping they have what you want / need. Thank goodness the “American” store just received a shipment and I was able to stock up on some items I have been looking for for many months.
- Customer service!!! Many have heard me say that The Gambians are the nicest people and they truly are. They know what customer service means, whether it was the lady we chatted with at the money changing place, the super duper helpful internet guy who set up our phones, the folks who carry your groceries to the car or the manager of the grocery store who lets you use his private bathroom.
- Packing and Unpacking. What I dislike most about grocery shopping in The Gambia is how many times we have to move those groceries. First of all if you are smart (I was 50/50 today) when you go shopping you will remember your box for the eggs and the cooler. Then you hit several stores, storing the cold stuff in the cooler and loading up the car. You then return to the guest house where we stay when we shop and unload all of those groceries into the refrigerator or counters there. On Tuesday when we head back to the village we will have to load all the groceries back into the car and then unload them at our houses!! Just makes me tired typing all of this. I admit I am a little jealous of those of you using Amazon pantry or Walmart grocery pickup when I am in the midst of moving the groceries for the 4th time!
I am not complaining as I am so grateful I have access to many of the things I need and also many wants, but I thought you would appreciate this next time you are frustrated that Walmart only has one register open.