Food is much harder to deal with than we thought. I am happy that we have and indoor market (farmer’s market style) that we can walk to in about 7 minutes. That’s super important because we are living on cucumbers, tomatoes, pickles (mmmmm, man the pickles!), eggs, potatoes and whatever meat we can figure out how to buy.
That doesn’t sound so bad, until you walk past people selling some local things that look amazing, and could possibly be Bacon rolls that I really want to try. But nope I can’t.
I had some really good sausage the other day. We tried to ask if they had gluten in them, and the seller said no they didn’t (well we think that’s what she said), only to eat them (really good) and then I basically passed out at the table. I didn’t have a typical gluten attack, but it was definitely a more than just a ‘nap attack.’
The other issue is a small fridge. We’re eating a ton of cucumbers and tomatoes (in season and EVERYONE sells them) but where do you store them? Our fridge is tiny (under bench fridge) so it doesn’t take much to fill it up. Then again, it’s only one meal away from being empty! It has become very apparent how much our family eats. So we’re at the market every other day stocking our fridge.
I think I’ve finally stopped swearing at people in Russian, and I think we’re becoming recognised in the hood now. I try to go back to the same people, since they seem to humour us pretty well. I even ventured out on my own with the two kids and did a grocery run! It doesn’t sound like a big step, until you have to do it.
We have a pretty good system now for buying food. You say “Hello” (Se-vay-key) and then point to what you want and hold up your fingers for how many. Once you have all your things they will show you the calculator with the price and then I spend 20 minutes sorting through coins since the price is always something like 2.88, then you are given your change – on a plate. They put your change on a plate for you to take. A lot of them want you to put your money on the plate, to give to them and they won’t accept it if you try and put it in their hand. I never would’ve known that.
What’s most off putting is when they start talking at you and they seem a little brusque and you have no idea what you’ve done. I’m learning to roll with that. I smile and end up saying “Hello, Hello” rather than “Sorry” and then start saying ‘excuse me’ in Spanish of ‘Gracias’ or something. Yeah, language flies right out the window.
The Kids of Riga
The kids here are really, REALLY quiet and independent. I mean you don’t hear them, they talk in whispers and even a bunch playing at the playground are quiet. Our two are SOOOOO loud, and it’s quiet a mission to keep their voices down. I just think of the pot lucks we’ve had and how loud it can get. I can’t imagine what the local’s would do here if we had a full on pot luck.
We have two kids living in the apartment underneath us, a 6-year old and a 2-year old. I’ve heard the 2 year old once. ONCE. 2-year olds aren’t quiet as a general rule, but kids in Riga are. Our kids look like aliens. To be fair, they pretty much are. Lennox with his mop of hair in his owl hoodie wearing jandals (they don’t wear jandals here either) stands out. Alpha wearing her tie-dyed t-shirt and bossing her brother around (loudly)… wearing jandals. They are aliens.
However, at the playground the other day, the local boys were playing with guns and a couple of them had rats tails, so Lennox was happy. But our two decided to play beside them but not join in.
A couple of other differences about the kids here. They all seem to have a cell phones, I’m talking the 5-6 year olds too. They have these cell phones because they look after themselves. There is very little supervision. So they need their phones to be told to come home. They have their bus pass and their cell phones and they just seem to roam. It’s great to see actually. They seem pretty level-headed, confident and obviously enjoy the space. Most likely because they live in tiny apartments, and this is the only time they get some space. I’m almost ready to send the kids to the park down the street (and around the corner, over tram tracks) by themselves. Hell, if the locals do it I guess my two can, soon. But they won’t have a cell phone.
The other difference? The kids are tall! Alpha and Lennox aren’t tall kids, so Lennox is probably the height of a 4-year old and Alpha a 6-year old. Another reason why they stand out I suppose.
I think that catches you up on a couple of the major things about Riga. We’ll have to tell you about the library. Now that was an experience!