I thought I'd start with an update to get that out of the way and force me to (mostly) write real posts going forward. Many of you were touchingly concerned about my financial situation. After an extraordinary number of phone calls and bombarding them with every document I could possibly think of, I have finally got PayPal to reinstate both of my accounts and lift the withdrawal limit on my UK account, so I can now get at my money, at least temporarily until I start actually sending it and they block everything again. I've also been able to pay back StereoNinja who had to front me the money to buy my car because of the whole my money was stranded issue. I bought another MINI because it seemed like a bad idea to be learning to drive a new car at the same time that I was learning a new road system, particularly since I live in between a terrifyingly busy roundabout and a terrifyingly narrow bridge and I was thoroughly convinced I was never going to be able to leave the island at all. I named him Basil to make a point about the difference between a person's name and a herb that goes on your pizza. It hasn't gone well.
I had been under the impression that moving here wouldn't be a terribly big adjustment, given that I've been coming here almost exclusively on holiday for years and I thought I knew the culture pretty well. But having knowledge about a place and actually living it day to day are two very different things. For example, the other day the toast got stuck in the toaster and despite the fact that I am perfectly aware that the voltage running through the walls here is twice as much as it is in my home country, StereoNinja ended up more or less vaulting the countertop to prevent me from trying to fish the toast out with a knife. Not that you should fish things out of the toaster with a knife in America either, but it's far less likely to kill you.
I've also struggled with doing the shopping. For the benefit of other Americans who may be considering moving here, allow me to give you a few tips:
- If you ask for tomato sauce, you will invariably be given ketchup. Even though it says ketchup on the bottle and not tomato sauce. If you actually want tomato sauce you'll have to look for a package that reads "tomato passata" and it will be in a box, NOT in a can. Knowing this ahead of time could save you an hour or more.
- The bread here is delicious, but the reason it is delicious is that it's not made almost entirely of preservatives, so if you're buying a loaf of bread, you better be prepared to eat all of it in about 2 days or else feed it to some ducks. Or swans. Feel free to come over - we have both.
- The powdered sugar you're looking for is called icing sugar and no one knows what you're talking about if you say frosting.
- The things over by the milk that say "milkshake" on the side in no way resemble a milkshake. Similarly, anything that says lemonade is actually Sprite. There is no actual lemonade here.
- Hot dogs come in a can. Make of that what you will.
- There are a ton of different kinds of sausage for sale. None of them are the sausage you are looking for.
School has also started. In typical fashion, on a course made up almost entirely of women, I've managed to befriend three people, all of whom are men. So far I haven't been shouted at for any of my t-shirts, although I was worried on Wednesday about the "I should be in the kitchen" one I was wearing. Fortunately I ended up sitting behind one of my new dude friends and no one noticed. I've also managed to use the phrase "bitches be crazy" without any adverse consequences. Though I should probably stop pushing my luck.
So that's what I've been up to so far here. Stay tuned all month for daily posts that may or may not be more interesting than this one!