So, now that we are more settled here in Mexico I have ventured out to the grocery store. A word of advice to all of you planning to visit and use your Spanglish, the word for groceries is NOT "groceria" (I know the spelling is WAY off.) but is some other phrase like "comida general" (general food)! I know this because I said I needed to go to get "grocerias"... and immediate laughter from all the Mexicans around me! Well, I found out that I had just told them that I needed to go get some bad words... so, don't use your Spanglish with that word! Use 'comida general'!
Well, I loaded up our mini-van (our 5th rental car while in Mexico) and my four children and I head off to buy 'comida general'. We get to the parking lot of Wal-Mart (yes,Wal-Mart is here as well) and successfully pull into a parking spot without assistance that requires a tip...here in Mexico many parking lots have official looking people that assist you in parking and once they point you into a parking spot they expect a tip and then upon leaving the store they will suppose that your rear-view mirror, your side mirrors and the large back window are not sufficient to assist you in backing out thus they will help you to back out and you will thus be expected to tip them again. But, I digress...
So, we get into Wal-Mart and as soon as I'm in the door I hear, "Son estos todos sus niños?" (Are these all your children?) "Si", I answer. The first time it isn't too bad. We go to the "Panaderia" where all the rolls, breads, donuts and pastries are out on shelves or in large, uncovered bins open to the general public - including curious children who pull their hands out of their mouths just long enough to touch some pastries before moving on and people with illnesses walking by sneezing! In this "Panaderia" you take a tray and some tongs - mind you the tray had been unwashed for who knows how long and the tongs as well - this is obvious due to the fact that there is a coagulating conglomerate of food on the end of the tongs and although I always try to get the cleanest ones there is always something growing on the tip! So, we get our tray and my children attempt to guess what the last people bought from all the crumbs, sugar and glaze left on the try until my daughter attempts to knock the crumbs off by hitting the large, metal plate against a large metal bar (that holds the coagulating tongs). Well, metal plate on a metal bar... you get the picture - my daughter has successfully recreated "The Gong Show" in the Mexican Panaderia at Wal-Mart. A sweet older lady walks up and asks, "Son estos todos sus ninos?" To which I simply nod. (What else do you do when you are the only person who remotely resembles these children?) So, I corral all the children and stuff some into the cart. As I go to turn the cart around I notice an older man drop some bread on the floor, pick it up, and toss it back into the uncovered bin oblivious to the infectious germs that just latched onto the food... the same bin that my daughters just got bread out of! I find myself wondering whether or not the vaccinations in the U.S.A. were enough to ward off the germs at the "Panaderia".
By this time we have spent about an hour in Wal-mart just trying to find food that does not contain jalapenos and that my children will eat. I have spent an hour in conversation similar to:
MOM: "What about this kids?" (Holding up a package of sugared doughnuts. The only sealed food in the area.)
DAUGHTER: "I'm sick of those can we get something else?"
MOM: "Ok, what about this?" (Holding up something that looks remotely tasteful and similar to a breakfast bread.)
SON: "Is that even healthy Mom? Can we just go to McDonalds?" (As if that is the epitome of healthy!)
MOM: "All right, how about these?" (Holding up the closest thing I could find to regular blueberry muffins.)
DAUGHTER: "Sure Mom, I'll get 'em with the tongs. Gimme the tongs (to another sibling)."
SIBLING: "No,I want to get mine first!"
DAUGHTER: "No, I'm getting mine!"
SIBLING: "No, mine! I have the tongs!"
DAUGHTER: "No you don't..." (Trying to wrestle the tongs out of her sister's hands.)
WAL-MART SHOPPER: "Son estos todos sus niños?"
MOM: (While trying to wrestle the coagluating, conglomerating tongs out of my children's hands - but, with a smile...) "Si, mis manos es occupado!" (Yes, my hands are fully occupied.)
WAL-MART SHOPPER: "Claro!" (Clearly.) Hmmm... I wonder how the woman meant that?
Finally, the family gets the muffin things onto the glaze, sugar crusted silver plate after the children have been threatened within an inch of having them work in the Wal-Mart parking lot directing traffic as penance. We grapple our way up to the "Panaderia" clerk and I hear, "Son estos todos sus niños? Es normal in Estado Unidos?" (Are these all your children? Is it normal in the United States?) At this point I just clench my teeth and smile as I have no earthly idea how to ask her is what normal in the United States? Four children? Siblings enacting a WWF Tournament in the middle of the bakery in the U.S.A.? or the entire "Panaderia" experience with the uncovered bins and people throwing food from the floor back into the bins? So, I simply just say, "Si, Gracias por tu patiencia." (Yes, Thanks for your patience.) That is the first stop of the trip to get "Comida General" - not "Groserias"... but, by the end of that trip I am sure I could have used some "groserias"! Thanks heavens my mother taught me better!