Balkan Reflections

This blog has been set up to assist in communicating with friends and family while we are in Bosnia-Herzegovina

Location: Ontario, Canada

Striving to a better day.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Shopping in Banja Luka is quite different than home.

There is the market downtown, which is a series of stalls selling everything from peppers and coffee grinders and live chickens, to underwear and name brand (or really good knock offs!) jackets, shoes and sweat shirts.

In our neighbourhood is a myriad of ‘corner stores’. Here, they don’t need corners. In fact, it seems that every second or third home has some sort of business operating out of it, whether a small grocery, an ‘auto praona’ (car wash) or even a hardware store.

The house in which we live has an auto proana operating downstairs. The house next door has…well, I’m not sure, but they are moving an enormous amount of Неkшар(hah! Finding the Cyrillic alphabet! Too bad only some letters will reproduce here.) bottles! They are also building their own, new house.

Not too far from us are also two ‘super store’ type establishments. They offer groceries, electronics, clothing, etc.

Now, at home, one usually assumes that the big stores are cheaper. Here it is not so. Often, the small corner stores are as cheap or cheaper. For instance, we bought a 20lb sack of potatoes for 3.33 KM at the big store. We could have bought it for 2 KM at a small establishment.

Wine, beer and spirits are available pretty much everywhere. As there are no taxes here, they’re cheap.

People often walk or bike to shop. This can be a bit risky. Sidewalks here are very efficient. They serve three purposes: pedestrian traffic, bicycle traffic, and car parking. I am NOT kidding.

As one is assaulted by the array of colour, the crowd and sometimes the smell, it can be a bit confusing. You’d think you could get anything at market, but in fact you cannot…so far, we have not seen celery, peanut butter (although we now know what it’s called locally, so we keep looking), baking powder (I’m beginning to think they don’t use it here), and in all the market we found only one dustpan. We bought it for about $0.75 CDN. We have not been able to find bath-sized towels, never mind bath sheets. We haven’t been able to find face cloths either.

‘Bulk buying’ as we have it in NA does not seem to exist here, unless one is buying vegetables or eggs. Quantities in packages tend to be ‘regular’ sized. Milk is packed in litres. Eggs are in 10s (unless you’re buying flats of 18 at the market. There, if you want fewer, they put them in a plastic bag!)

It is, however, possible to buy an entire wheel of cheese. Or an entire pig, if you happen to be at the market on Tuesday. Or a car on Sunday…

Happy Feast of St. Teresa of Avila!


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