Monday, July 9, 2012

The bad, the ugly, and the good

Day 28
7 July 2012

Saturday in a nutshell? Bad to ugly to good.

Friday night was uncomfortable. I don’t remember being fully asleep, but I was conscious enough to feel intensely itchy. Everywhere. My arms itched. My legs. My stomach. My neck. My eyelids. I didn’t think much of it until I woke up the next morning around 5:30 am. I thought, yeesh, the mosquitos must have had a fiesta without me knowing it! I stumbled sleepily to the bathroom around the corner. Looking in the mirror over the sink, I nearly choked. Whoever that girl was looking back was NOT me. Her eyes were puffy and swollen half-shut. Every inch of exposed skin was covered in giant red rashes. Jesus. what. is. this. As I looked myself over, I had to laugh. This was the first time I have ever had such a serious allergic reaction to anything. Well, I thought, at least I’m not dying. Though, I should probably get some help. I felt awful banging on Ridhi’s door at the crack of dawn, but I couldn’t find a single soul awake. Sweet Ridhi! She didn’t have any allergy meds, but she told me to try taking a cold shower, which helped stop the itching. Thankfully my symptoms reduced over the next few hours, but I still have no idea what caused the reaction! Haven’t changed my diet or really much of anything since I got here. Who knows. Don’t think I’ll forget that sight of myself. Like Will Smith with his giant balloon face in Hitch.

After the reaction died down, Ridhi, Josh, and I walked down to the main road off campus to see if we could catch a trotro to a popular shopping/eating/drinking destination, Osu. A trotro is probably the cheapest transportation around. I don’t know how else to describe it than a big sketchy van that is always cram-packed with people. I absolutely cannot forget to snap a picture of one before I leave; it is a sight. Unless it’s that rare occasion that you catch a nice trotro, it’s going to look like it’s falling apart. If you’re even luckier, you won’t be sitting next to the guy with really bad B.O. But trotros sure are cost-effective. A mere 40 cents got us downtown to Osu in about 25 minutes!

When we reached Osu, it was plain to see that this was expatriate central. We wandered into the Koala grocery store, where there were more white people in one place than I had seen my entire time here! The commodities were a good deal pricier here than they were at the Shop-Rite grocery at the mall. In general, I liked walking down Osu. Made for a nice change of scenery from campus. Most of the action, we found, is actually down the sidestreets where the restaurants and bars are located. Ridhi and Josh showed me Mamma Mia, a little Italian joint that serves authentic brick oven pizza! Ate what may have been one of the best veggie pizzas I have ever had. My love for pizza knows no bounds!

The rest of the day we spent at the art center honing my favorite new skill, bartering! I would be lying if I said it was easy. Or that it wasn’t a pain in the butt at times. But overall, I feel like I made some pretty successful purchases! One of the highlights was spending about 30 minutes drooling in a few booths over a gazillion pre-owned leather purses. Couldn’t resist picking up a new bag for school!

The most effective tool I found in the art center is the ability to walk away. If a seller won’t come down to a price you view as fair, you can often find similar products at neighbor booths and see how they might go about a better deal. I was intrigued to learn that at the art center, sellers who sell similar merchandise form mini unions together and set a certain price they absolutely won’t go below in order to make a profit. The trick for shoppers is to find that price! I always have to laugh... often I’ll think I scored a great deal until I find out that one of my groupmates got a better one on the same item. Ah well, relatively speaking, the cost is low when we’re talking exchange rates. Even if I couldn’t haggle the best price, I don’t feel as though I’ve been thieved. If they make an extra bit of bank from me, more power to them! That’s food on the table for their families.

Despite having a bit of a rocky start, my day had a lovely, most exhausting ending. 
You can bet I made up for lost sleep that night.

Nante yie!


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