Top Ten Thursday – 10 Things to Know Before Going Grocery Shopping in St. Kitts

1. Be prepared for the sticker shock. A package of Charmin toilet paper can be $32EC.

2. Check all expiration dates and examine food through plastic windows whenever possible. If you buy cereal, ask at the register if you can open the box and inspect the bag.

3. Be familiar with the three major grocery stores and their standard prices so you know what items are cheapest where. Rams sells many items in Bulk; Best Buy carries more name-brand things; IGA has weekly sales and is sometimes cheaper.

4. Know that the stores generally restock on Wednesdays. This means go on Thursday mornings whenever you can.

5. Get produce at the markets first, then at the grocery stores. The campus market is small and on Wednesdays; the city market is much larger and on Saturdays.

6. Do not trust the shelf stickers. Compare the sticker item numbers to the bar code numbers on the box/can before trusting that it’s the right sticker. Also, when things don’t have stickers, it’s a gamble. You can’t just estimate based on the prices of similar items on the same shelf.

7. Try not to buy things out of the freezer section if you can help it. First of all, the freezers are never cold enough to actually keep things frozen, which brings the safety of the food into question. And secondly, if it has to be frozen there’s a reason for it, and it will be thawed by the time you get home anyway so there isn’t much point.

8. Sign up for all the shoppers’ numbers and cards, since they do sometimes get you discounts. However, they only process the applications once they have a full “batch” (however many that may be), so you might go shopping for the next three weeks and not be able to benefit from the number. Also, you collect “points” when you shop with your card or use your shoppers’ number, but it’s not like at home where you can redeem them for things. Here, at certain times of the year (I’m told in December), the points will suddenly become redeemable and you can use them on certain products.

9. Put your groceries on the belt in the order you want them bagged, because the cashiers and baggers don’t care how they are sorted. A package of frozen bagels will go right into the bag with bathroom cleaner and hamburger helper if you’re not careful.

10. Call your taxi when you get into the checkout line. It will take the taxi 10 minutes to get back to the store (at least) and you’ll be in line at least that long anyway while the cashier ignores you and talks to her friends at the other register.

(10b. If you’re riding in a taxi, don’t buy more than 3-4 bags of groceries and make sure the tops can be tied. You’ll want to tie them closed and tie them together before putting them in the taxi so you know they are yours and so they won’t roll everywhere. If you’re riding in a bus – good luck with that.)

The Missus has a Moment of Clarity

Actually, that title should be moments of clarity because there have been several this week already, and it’s only Tuesday night. (I’ll explain the most important now and leave the second for another post, to avoid creating a short novel.)

Last week, I was pretty miserable. That’s not really a secret to anyone I’ve talked to, emailed or blogged with since we left the United States. Actually, I was pretty miserable up until sometime during last night’s (Monday’s) white coat ceremony. Even while getting dressed and walking over to the auditorium, I was ashamed of myself because I knew it was an important milestone in the Mister’s life, but I just couldn’t make myself be excited about it. In my mind, it was just somewhere else I had to go in my job of following him around.

But that changed somewhere during the keynote speaker. A Ross graduate, this woman has been studying neurological diseases in dachshunds and using her research to potentially find a way to cure a similar lysosomal disease in human children. She talked about all the places she has worked, the research she has done and the good she is doing for both the animal and human worlds. Then I watched the Mister get his white coat, which symbolizes the official start of his veterinary career, and some light bulb in my head flicked on.

This is not just a college on a cool island that the Mister wanted to come to for the fun of it. This is not just a joyride he dragged me on because he thought it would be an adventure. This is veterinary school, something he has wanted his entire life, and it will prepare him for the rest of his life supporting me and our future children. He didn’t bring me here to make my life difficult; he brought me here to help him ultimately make my life easier.

Boy did that punch me in the gut.

I’m here because I can help keep him on track and focused, push him in the right directions and remind him what he’s working so hard for. And here I’ve spent the last 11 days moping and crying and wanting to go home.

So I made myself a promise that I’m going to be supportive and helpful while I’m here. I may not like everything about this place, and I may have a lot of reasons to want to go home, but I am going to do my best to make sure coming home is the best part of the Mister’s day, rather than the worst. I’m going to do my best to make sure he doesn’t waste time worrying about me and feeling bad about having brought me here when he could be studying. I’m going to be productive; I’m going to make friends; I’m going to learn about the island and its people and their culture and I’m going to absorb as much of it as I can. Because, in the end, what good is the experience without the stories?

(Although I will never get used to sweet ketchup and squash in alfredo sauce. Ever.)

The Mister and I after his white coat ceremony.

The Mister and I after his white coat ceremony.

Oh – and as always, there are more photos at www.flickr.com/photos/chesnuthouse. Although I’ve reached my free upload limit so I’m going to have to find another way to share photos with you guys in the future.

How to make your veterinarian love you

This is a post from a blog I read regularly called “Veterinarianess.” The writer is a student preparing to graduate, and this particular post is very funny, and very true. I can see the Mister saying any and all of these things to me and/or his clients one day. The video is especially funny, and 99.9% clean language. 🙂 Enjoy.

Veterinarianess

Just a few helpful tips to make you and Fluffy your veterinarian’s favorite clients.

1. Do not tell them that you once wanted to be a veterinarian. We hear this from every single person who walks through the door. Ditto on telling them that your brother’s wife’s cousin’s daughter wants to be a veterinarian. Also, definitely do not tell them that the reason you chose a different occupation was because you love animals too much. Show me a veterinarian who doesn’t love animals in the extreme and then explain to me exactly how loving animals so much kept you from your dream.

2.Do not attempt to hold your own animal in the exam room. Some small animal veterinarians will have signs posted to this effect, but either way it is a liability for the veterinarian to have the client hold Fluffy, especially if Fluffy decides to bite someone…

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At the Zoo with Dr. Doolittle

I don’t know many people who can call a hippo up from the deep.

But apparently I’m married to Dr. Doolittle so common rules of animal nature don’t apply to him.

He causes the meerkats to check the sky for hawks; he talks to the hippos and they fight each other; and the tigers wake up from naps in the sunshine to pose for pictures.

Is it normal for giraffes to follow a man around their enclosure, even when he is NOT holding any food? Do kookaburras always sing songs with passing visitors? I don’t think so.

Normal is the small child shouting and shaking the fence to get the giraffe’s attention. Normal is the man whistling a tune for tropical birds that just look at him silently. The mister is not normal.

It’s just another sign that he was meant to be a veterinarian. Animals can sense his abilities and kindness even from across zoo enclosures. They flock to him. Which, in some cases, can be mildly terrifying.

This really makes me wonder what life will be like in St. Kitts, where there are free-range boars and monkeys that congregate in public areas.

Am I going to come home from the store one day and find the mister on the couch surrounded by unnamed rainforest animals? Am I going to have to learn to feed the free-range cattle that follow him single file like faithful puppy dogs?

Although, if I really think about it, this sort of talent could turn into a profitable business if we use it right. How many people do you know that could stand at the edge of the rainforest and call out never-before-seen creatures? We could fill a tropical zoo in a day! Imagine what scientists and researchers will pay for his services!

And that’s not even mentioning when he opens his own practice on day. He’ll be the only vet around who can literally speak to his clients. It’ll be a little like the Day of Pentacost, but without the tongues of fire and with a lot more barking.