You never stop thinking in dollars. Don’t get me wrong. But when you arrive, you have no clue what those coins mean, nor what to do with the bills. You can’t tell a $50 from a $500. You don’ t know $U from U$S. What to do?
If the price looks ridiculously high or ridiculously low, it is. Look again. See that S in there? Yep, many prices are in US dollars here in Uruguay. People pay attention to exchange rates. Here, we know stuff about the global economy. Inflation might mean something sinister. Gold means something other than just Costa de Oro.
When I came here I had to do conversions in my head. But not just pesos to dollars and back. We do metric here. I already knew kilos to pounds. Everyone who has a history of eating disorders knows that. (psst! It’s 2.2 pounds per kilo). So if I buy pollo, I have to buy it by the kilo and pay pesos per kilo. Nowadays, I no longer to four-point conversions. Don’t laugh…From kilos to pounds and pesos to dollars, then evaluate how much they are REALLY offering compared to all the supermarkets I MAY have gone to in the States (would that be “family pack”?) and then, convert back from pounds to kilos and from dollars to pesos. Then, decide. If my head isn’t spinning.
“Señora?” He’d been waiting patiently for a response. Si o no? It would take me forever before I stopped saying “yes” or “ya” and got used to “Si, Señor, un muslo, per favor.” I now know how much a muslo costs without four-point conversion and how much meat is on it. Most goes to Puzzle.
Never mind that, you need to know centimeters as well. Paper sizes are odd, too, or shall I say, not at all what I am used to. We have A4. It’s standard in some countries but I’m not used to it. Know how tall, or, rather, how short I am? 155 centimeters I believe. Even in metric, that’s not much. Never mind how many kilos I am. Puzzle is between six and seven. You’ll be relieved to hear that we do years and months the same, except the months are called by different names, as are names of the days of the week. I believe weeks start on Monday, or Lunes. It took me a while to learn the days of the week, but now, I’m sure I have them down. So if I go to a store and see the hours posted, I know what the sign says.
As for time, that, too, takes adjustment. It’s a 24-hour clock. 13:00 means 1pm. You stop subtracting after a while. I mean that. You really do stop subtracting. By the way, midnight is written 0:00. It’s not necessary to write AM and PM, though I think it’s gonna be a while before I stop that habit.
Now for the hard part. Winter is summer and summer is winter. That’s because up is down and down is up. Nope, the force of gravity is similar, but the equator is north of here. There is no upness to north and no downness to South, it’s just that we were taught that in grade school over and over and over. Down South. The Land Down Under. Under where? Under your underwear? Cuz my español can be so bad that I really do end up saying stuff like that by accident. It can be embarrassing. I heard that once one of the Expats went to a restaurant and instead of ordering food, he ordered a whore.
I hear he didn’t get what he asked for. I’m not sure how they dealt with the tip. Makes a lot of cents, right?