Our apartment is in a good location: about a 10 minute walk to work and 5 minutes from Wal-Mart. We have been there once each of the last 3 days buying groceries and household items as we get settled into our new abode. Take my word for it, in Jiaxing, we are the odd ones. There are almost no Caucasians here. We stand out like, well, Wal-Martians. People are pretty open about checking us out, which is to say they generally gawk at us. Children point, old people peer; shock is the initial reaction to us. We have become wonderfully adept at sign language with the staff who try pretty hard to help us. When one of them can find something as esoteric as shelf paper, that’s pretty good, especially when arm-waving is the only form of communication. Our students have told us that there are bilingual helpers at Wal-Mart but we haven’t found them, and it’s not for looking. There are at least two employees in every row in Wal-Mart and we ask everyone of them if they speak English. No luck so far.
Today David took us to a huge grocery store about 20 minutes away and helped identify a variety of foods that had up to this point been vague as to heritage. We bought a number of things, including wine! This is the first time we’ve found any reasonably priced and not locally made. I have been wine-less since we left home! The good news is that the beer is good and plentiful. (Ed, Note: The other news is that I saw scooters on sale. They are electric, you don’t need a license and they cost – wait for it $350.00. Look out Jiaxing – Geoff is soon to hit the streets [Maybe])