Friday, September 30, 2011

Life in the USA, Part One: Luis Goes Into Sensory Overload

Luis weighing his options in the dairy aisle (photo by Simone Cannon)

First of all, huge apologies to our followers for not posting in such a long time, but since we relocated to the Pacific Northwest, we've been incredibly busy getting settled in and adjusting to life in the U.S. I will be continuing my series on Real Mexican Food next week, but for now, an intermezzo. Just because we haven't been traveling internationally doesn't mean that Luis has stopped taking photos...oh, no, far from it. Come to think of it, if anything, he has accelerated his photo-snapping rate exponentially since he's been stateside. He's now in a brand new place with new people, new sights and a new and strange culture to explore. I've started looking at my own country through his eyes, and let me tell you, it's a pretty bizarre place. Funny how I never noticed before.

Emu eggs at Whole Foods, one of the many varieties available to confound the unsuspecting foreigner (photo courtesy of KarenP at 
 For example, when we first arrived, he was completely overwhelmed by the variety of items available in the stores, something I had never given much thought to. We took our first grocery shopping trip to Whole Foods and I sent him off to buy eggs while I looked for laundry detergent. He returned to the detergent aisle ten minutes later with no eggs and a shell-shocked look on his face. "Where are the eggs?" I understandably asked. To which he responded, "Madre de Dios! There were brown eggs, white eggs, pastel-colored eggs, organic eggs, non-organic eggs, cage-free eggs, caged eggs, eggs from chickens named Betty, eggs from chickens named Sue, omega 3 fatty acid-enhanced eggs, extra calcium eggs, duck eggs, emu eggs, ostrich eggs, crocodile eggs, salmon eggs and chocolate eggs (white, milk, semi-sweet and dark)! So I went to buy milk instead and there was fat-free, 1%, 2%, whole, organic, non-organic, extra calcium, extra protein, extra calcium and protein, goat, cow, sheep, soy, low-fat soy, rice, oat, buttermilk and chocolate milk (white, milk, semi-sweet and dark)." He was almost in tears. "All I want to buy is a dozen eggs and a gallon of milk...Sweet Jesus!" Keep in mind that, in Venezuela, you're having an excellent day if you find one unexpired liter of milk and a half a dozen eggs only a week past their expiration date.

So many pillows, so little time... (photo courtesy of

The next day, I made the unfortunate decision to visit Ikea with him to buy pillows. When we finally wound our way through the massive, labyrinthine store and arrived at the linen section, we found that an entire wall of bedding was occupied by pillows filled with foam, down, half foam/half down, gel, anti-allergic and non-anti-allergic stuffings. There were ergonomic pillows, pillows for side-sleepers, back sleepers, stomach sleepers, front/side sleepers, back/stomach sleepers and troubled sleepers. They came in varying levels of firmness: extra-extra soft, extra soft, soft, soft-medium, medium, medium-firm, firm, extra firm, extra-extra firm and rock. Sizes ranged from twin, double, queen, king and California king. I glanced back at Luis for his opinion on which pillow to buy, but, sadly, it was too late. He had already slipped into an irreversible catatonic state.