Posts Tagged ‘shopping’

Today I unearthed my old Argentina Pumas rugby jersey from my boxes of loot I brought back from Uruguay. And so I decided to wear it, after giving it a good wash to get rid of the Obligatory Uruguay Mold Smell (TM).

And so I went out, to do my daily stuff. At the grocery store, I went in to “la cava” which is a sort of glassed-off room where they keep the nice wines and higher-end imported liquors, looking for a bottle of Glenfarclas. They didn’t have the 15-year I was looking for but they did have a 10, so I took that. The guy was talking to me really slowly and clearly, because he figured I was an Argentine. I also noticed that he avoided using Chilean slang.

Honestly I had slipped up and forgotten to get rid of my Rio Platense accent, so it obviously fit with my appearance. It’s funny, the whole time I was on BobQuest, I kept forgetting to “sh” my “ll” and “j” my “y”, and now that I am back in Chile, I am forgetting to “y” my “j” and “ll” my “sh’s.”

And so BoozeVendorBob babied me the whole way through the process, more than he would have done had I been setting off his GringoDar. Then similar happened during checkout, the cash register lady was all step-by-step with me, handholding me through the truly complex and impossible-to-understand credit card transaction I had done a gazillion times.

And again, at the pharmacy, picking up some contact lens solution, PharmacistBob asked me something-or-other which I assumed was an inquiry whether or not I wanted the “boleta” receipt or the “factura” but it was noisy and I didn’t make it out clearly. So, “Perdon?” I asked and he took that split second that I knew was recognition of the Argentine rugby shirt, and he shook his head and corrected himself, automatically choosing the proper boleta receipt for a non-Chilean who couldn’t possibly be tax-exempting the purchase.

In the subway on the way back home, I got lost in thought and lost track of the station names. Not uncommon for me. So at the next stop, I was craning my neck to see out the window, with no luck, where we were. A check behind was blocked by another train in the station. A guy standing behind me took notice that I was looking around, and told me which one we were at. First time that had ever happened, so I nodded thanks to him. I am willing to bet he took me for a tourist who was lost.

So by simple wearing of a foreign team shirt, you are just about guaranteed to be taken as a foreigner here. I’ve shopped at these places more times than I can count, and never before have I been treated this way. Not that it is bad, it is just different, and a bit funny. No wonder the Argies feel like the Chilenos treat them like babies. Because they do. Even if they pretend not to.

So this means I must find a Chile team jersey and wear it, and see what happens. Or, to twist some knives, Peru or Bolivia.

I decided to stay another day in Fukuoka and check it out some more. I had wanted to try to squeeze in a visit to Matsumoto castle before I left but the distance and time just wasn’t realistic; basically I’d get there super late and then have maybe a few hours in the morning to see it before hauling to Tokyo to fly back to US and A.

So I started this morning on a search for traditional area arts and crafts; Hakata dolls are famed the world over, and they are made here. What better way to satisfy my souvenir bug than to try and find an effigy of Ebisu, the Shinto God of those who earn their money, so I can add him to my Shrine of Evil Capitalism.

I headed to Canal City mall, a 5-floor monstrosity on the riverfront. Actually it is done quite well, and has a very nice mix of open-air and roofed space. I didn’t find Ebisu despite there being a decent store of local craft items, but I did see a sign for Ramen Stadium, and with a name like that, you just can’t not go in there.

Fukuoka claims fame in its ramen soup, and Ramen Stadium is a place where they have imported award-winning ramen chefs from all over Japan, and put their little restaurants here in one place. So of frigging course I have to go in there and eat. And eat. And eat. And it was truly delicious. And so I left Canal City bloated and with 50 gallons of ramen sloshing around in my gut, and headed north to the Hakata Traditional Crafts center in an attempt to find Ebisu.

Inside Ramen Stadium

Inside Ramen Stadium

I headed north towards the arts center’s location, and seeing a pretty red Japanese bridge, decided “hey, why not,” and crossed it, because it was nice. And lo and behold, the other side brought me smack to the center of Fukuoka’s district of negotiable affection. The whole south side of this little island among the canals is devoted to it. The local specialty is “soap clubs” where the girls soap up themselves, and then you, and then do things to you until you get your happy ending.

And across another small bridge you find the local shrine, which is very nice indeed, and then right across the street from that, is the Traditional Crafts Center. No Ebisu.

So I looked up some more locations on the map and went there, and no Ebisu. Not anywhere. For a God of Commerce, you’d think he’d be commercially available. Not so!

So I wandered the Tenjin underground mall, which sort of interconnects all the surface malls. Having read good things about Tenjin Core mall, I went there to see what it was about. Turns out it’s just stuff for chicks. And here’s the first store you see inside:

Titty! Be sure to read the small print on the bags (on right below sign)

Titty! Just one, though? Be sure to read the small print on the bags (on right below sign)

After that I wandered the surface and came across the ultimate nerd Mecca, Mandarake, which sells anything and everything a basement-dwelling geek wants sitting on his desk and bookshelf.

Mandarake nerd haven

Mandarake nerd haven


Tonight we’re drinking for enjoyment and not to cope. This is a change for us.

I have consumed more alcohol in the last 6 months than in the rest of my life put together. Gone are the days when I could get drunk on a few Cuba Libres; now I can kill an entire bottle of whiskey with SeminoleBob and still retain motor function. Though speech does slur, sentences and subjects wander without warning, and I wonder sometimes what the hell I was talking about but there is usually a lot of head-nodding produced by the audience so either I wasn’t entirely ridiculous or folks around me were being polite.

But I digress.

We ate at an Indian restaurant tonight. Excellent food. Real Indians. Spicy hot make-your-mouth-on-fire stuff. Awesome. They actually went out of their way to make sure we got what we wanted, even though it wasn’t on the menu. We knew they could do it. And they did! We’re veteran Indian food junkies.

I have landed my UFO in a strange land where people actually do things.

Had we asked for this in Uruguay, forget it. After seeing how things work there, I wouldn’t surprised to go into an “Indian” restaurant to find nothing but chivito and milanesa on the menu.

We experienced the Indian food in Uruguay, at the only Indian restaurant. Run by Uruguayos, not Indians. The food was ok, not fantastic, and they tried to rip us off when we got the check– the menus we had contained prices less than we were quoted on the check, and when we brought it to the waiter/owner’s attention, in traditional Uruguayan lack-of-customer-service style, he preferred to get a few dollars more now than retain customers and have them coming back again and again, by insisting we pay the new up-to-date menu prices as opposed to the old out-of-date menu prices that were in the menus which we were given.

Up his. We never went back and now we tell everyone we meet to avoid it. The place was called Tandoori, by the way, in Montevideo. Avoid it like the plague. If it’s still in business.

Another thing I am noticing a lot of is that people in Chile understand me, even with my Rio Platense accent. Not once has someone looked at me questioningly and done the “eh?” to get me to say it again. Which happens in Uruguay, all the time, and I like to think I have a pretty good grasp on the Spanish there. Folks here get it, the first time.

And they have discovered “the stick” at the grocery store and put it to use. Such a great invention.

El Stick no es disponible en Uruguay.

Chilling out with a decent $3 bottle of Carmenere…