Worst Shopping Trip Ever

It’s funny now, but it wasn’t funny when I was in the middle of it. Our first full day in Sint Maarten did not include the beach, fresh seafood, or any of the things you probably thought I’d do as soon as possible. Instead, we spent pretty much the whole day on biggest shopping fail I’ve ever experienced.
One of the blessings of living in or complex is a little Chinese general store just a quick stroll down the hill. It has most of the things we needed to buy, including cups, canned food, and even plates (they say “love apple” on them, whatever that means, but hey, they’re plates). It also has a lot of things we don’t need, but were very entertained by– plastic cups with anime bears, and a set of tiny drawers with the same badly-translated Chinese poem on every drawer.
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We bought some of the things we needed, but we had heard that a discount store in Philipsburg, the capitol city, was having a killer closing sale. We didn’t know how to get there, so we asked our complex’s maintenance man where the bus station is. He offered to give us a ride to Maho, where buses leave more frequently. We gladly accepted his kind offer, and he actually drove us all the way to Philipsburg, so our bus ride to the end was short. Our first stop was Cost U Less, where things might cost you less on the island but definitely cost more than in the States. Let’s just say we won’t be buying cereal here. We bought a few things and moved on to the store with the sale, Save A Lot, and found decent prices for many of the things on our shopping list– sheets, comforters, couch cover, curtains, knives and block, pillows, doormat, etc. The selection wasn’t so great, but at least we got things we needed and liked.
Or so we thought.
We took a taxi home, because no bus would be able to take us and our bulky bags. We finally made it home, and began to unpack.
Our first problem was that the curtains I chose did not fit on the rod in our bedroom. The second problem was that they looked ridiculous in the living room. We despaired of our curtains and moved on to the bedding. We slept on my wrap-around skirts last night and used clothing-stuffed bags for our pillows, so you can imaging how happy we were to have sheets. One problem: they did not fit. The sheets said that they were for a full bed, but they were about a foot too short! We bought three sets, sadly. This also meant that the blanket we bought did not fit. The door mat didn’t work either– every time the door opens, it sweeps the mat to the side.
At this point I was feeling pretty discouraged. I flopped down on our half-sheeted bed and stared dejectedly at the ceiling. Ben walked in, carrying the box that held our new knife set. “Are you OK?” He asked. I said that I was frustrated because everything we made the trip for we couldn’t use. “It’s going to be OK,” he said, as he opened the box. He slid out the knife block  and, lo and behold, no knives. Just an empty block and the cutting board that came with it. We stared at it and I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. Ben shook his head and burst out laughing. I laughed, too. Sometimes, you just have to have a sense of humor.
We ended up using the bedspread as curtains, the top sheets as fitted sheets, and the doormat as a rug in the kitchen. We went shopping again today and found sheets that actually fit. I don’t really know what to do with an empty knife block or those silly curtains, but sometimes you just have to take things with a shrug and laugh a little. As Ben says, stuff like this comes with being a foreigner. You just have to make mistakes and learn. You just have to let those annoying things that are different from “home” roll off your back. It won’t always be easy to laugh at the things life throws at me, but at least I’m learning.
View from our apartment
View from our apartment
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3 thoughts on “Worst Shopping Trip Ever

  1. I couldn’t help but laugh as I read about your first shopping experience. I could just picture Ben being as calm as a cucumber. 🙂

    Like

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