May 28, 2009

Only in America

Posted in Journal tagged , , , at 1:11 am by Jenn

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I had to do a double take when I saw these on the shelf.  I really and truly thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. Sadly. they. weren’t.

April 17, 2009

National Gallery of I Don’t Think So

Posted in Journal tagged , , , at 7:51 pm by Jenn

I’m in my final days now.  I have less than two weeks left in Baku and so many things left to do before I go.  Last week I knocked out the Carpet Museum, riding the Funicular and attempted a visit to the National Art Gallery.  I say attempted because we (me and Missy) actually went in, purchased tickets and then decided against the visit….why you ask?  Well, because they want you to check your coat, your purse and your camera….um, I don’t think so!  Why do they feel it’s necessary to take my coat everywhere I go?  I don’t want to take my coat off…I’m cold, thank you very much!  And really?  You want me to leave my purse with you?  Again, I don’t think so.  I am not going to leave my purse with my money, my identification, my credit cards, my cell phone and house keys at coat check in the United States of America – so don’t expect me to leave it in a country where the price I pay for pashminas depends on the mood of the salesman and the language I am speaking!  As for the camera…well that’s just ridiculous…we said we wouldn’t take pictures, the camera was packed away in the camera bag…they follow so close to you that you can practically smell their breath so what’s the big deal of wanting to keep an expensive item like a camera in our possession?  If it falls of the hook and breaks or someone steals it are they going to compensate us for the loss…NOPE!  So therefore, not leaving it….or any of the other stuff….just give us our money back!

The woman at the checking station was rather offended and the guard didn’t seem very happy either.  I understand they have a job to do, but at least if you are going to take someones valuables offer a locker area to keep them in at least….even the grocery store has that much – and I don’t leave my purse in the locker there either!

Hopefully my visit this week to the Palace in the Old City and the Modern Art Gallery will be better.

April 2, 2009

Coffee Break Spanish

Posted in Journal tagged , , , , , , , at 5:18 pm by Jenn

I have been surfing and browsing the internet most of the day, reading expat blogs on Chile, searching for potential job leads, posting to message boards etc.  Overall it’s been really amusing and the best part is that I found this great site that will be a refresher for my Spanish.  It’s a weekly podcast called Coffee Break Spanish, and IT IS A RIOT!  I’m on lesson one and I’m cracking up.  Not because it’s pathetic, but because it is entertaining.  I’m almost positive the instructors Mark and Kara are Irish as I detect a strong brogue, which comes across when they speak and it’s cracking me up!  LOVE IT!  This is going to be perfect.  Free Spanish lessons, and entertainment, and all in the privacy of my own home, while I knit!

Yesterday, I was too distracted by the post news and other things to write anymore, but I NEED to document this before I forget. 

I was walking around the Old City yesterday when my cell phone rang…it was Vangie – my neighbor.  She asked in a voice that sounded very disturbed, “Jenn, are you at home?”  I said, “No, why, what’s wrong”.  She said, “You are missing a great photo op at the Wellington”.   Vangie knows that I carry my camera everywhere with me to document the bizarre and strange happenings in and around this town.  Judging by the tone of her voice I knew it couldn’t be good.  The last time I heard her voice like this was the day Baku Animal Control was in the neighborhood.  I’ll spare you the details, but I will tell you that I did hear the gunshots.

Anyway, I asked what was going on and she proceeded to tell me that there were two sheep in our parking lot with their feet tied and they were about to be slaughtered.  I couldn’t believe it.  We live in a high rise apartment building.  Perhaps if we lived in Badamdar about 5 minutes away it wouldn’t bother me so much (fenced yards and less populated), but this is the city, we should not be seeing this in our parking lot.  She then went on to tell me that the gentleman who has several parking spaces reserved in the lot for himself (and his friends I suppose) had these two sheep in his “area” (not marked I might add, you are just supposed to know not to park there) with a meat hook and a wash basin and it looked like they were getting ready to kill the sheep.  She said she didn’t stick around long enough because she didn’t want to see and suggested that if I didn’t want to see that I not come home for a while.  I thought that was a GOOD idea.  So I waited several hours.

When I returned home one of the maintenance guys was up in the parking lot hosing off the area so I’m guessing that the mission had been accomplished even though there was no evidence that I could see.  I called Vangie to tell her that it had been done and she said that she knew…apparently her husband came home and witness the hanging, skinned, sheep…he also noticed that 10 feet away in the playground for our building were many kids, PLAYING! 

These are the same kids whose parents have a fit because the dogs run around and use the bathroom on the grass around the apartment.  I wonder what they’ll say when their kids wake up screaming in the night from the nightmares they are sure to have from these sheep.  I know that I had a sinking feeling in the bottom of my stomach just hearing about it and I’m sure many of you have that same feeling right now reading about it. 

I wonder why they did this, and why they chose to do it in the parking lot?  Certainly in Baku there are facilities where this can be done and if this man has enough “manat” to have 5 parking spaces all to himself, I’m sure he could have hired someone to take care of this somewhere a little less public.

Please, please, please someone – say something to me about my dog today.

March 28, 2008

Lettuce = GOLD

Posted in Journal tagged , , , , at 6:19 pm by Jenn

I need to get this out of my head before something happens to stifle my mojo again.  I’m not saying it’s back, but this is just so worth blogging about that…well here you be the judge.

I went to the grocery store today to buy lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers and kidney beans for tonight’s dinner…you guessed it Taco Salad.  I usually don’t pay much attention to prices (sorry Mom, I know you are cringing right now) because well quite frankly if you need something you buy it.  Well, I’m really glad that I was paying attention today, because the first head of lettuce that I picked up was already marked (usually they aren’t marked, you take them up to the girl, she weighs them and puts the price sticker on) 42000 byr.  I had a friend with me so I asked, “Does this say 42000”, her reply “Yep”.  Now I know why this head of lettuce was already priced.  Someone obviously wasn’t interested in paying $19.53 cents for a head of lettuce and I don’t blame them but you can’t have Taco Salad without lettuce.  Tonight is game night and Taco Salad is on the menu so I searched for a lighter head (x2).

Here’s a picture of the lettuce…

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27107 Belarusian rubles…any idea how much that is in US $, well let me tell you $12.50 (give or take a few cents)…..TWELVE DOLLARS AND FIFTY CENTS! FOR LETTUCE! ICE BERG LETTUCE, water basically.  There better not be one rust spot on this lettuce.

After inspecting the label carefully I think that I’ve figured out why this lettuce is so expensive.  The part of the label you can’t see clearly says product of SPAIN.  This label, in Russian says “Fresh Salad Imported from the Netherlands”.  My suggestion, why not buy lettuce grown in Spain, from Spain?

So there you have it…a mojo moment, captured and blogged about so not to be forgotten.  You’ve got to love the absurdity of Belarus.