I expected challenges when I moved to Dili – challenges with getting everyday life lived and done. Having been an expat before, I know that grocery shopping can be a problem. In Ukraine I had to visit two supermarkets to get the groceries that I wanted. A specialist store to get my cleaning and personal hygiene products. I ordered water over the phone and it would be delivered the following day. I bought phone credit from the guy on the corner who sat under the umbrella selling credit. And, where possible, I bought my fresh produce from the markets and street vendors.
Sometimes shopping could be a whole day experience.
Here, it’s much the same. The differences are: I need to visit more shops in order to procure my necessities. The shops are waaaaaayyy further apart. And I can’t just hoof it out of the house walking to and from the shops when I feel like it – in the absence of my having a car, it’s definitely a job for a taxi.
Besides that, with the proliferation of expats in Dili, there is a wide range of foodstuffs available in the supermarkets. I’m sure that supply will fluctuate, but I can certainly find more things that I want than I could in Kyiv.
One thing I can’t find is yoghurt. I have found a slightly sweetened soy yoghurt which I quite like, but nothing that the Sprog likes. And another thing that is here in fair abundance is cheese, but it’s ridiculously priced ($20 per kilo for cheddar?!). Funnily enough I found some parmigiana reggiana for $26 per kilo so bought a generous chunk of that.
And the final quirky observation: courtesy of the Portuguese history in Timor and the presence of the Portuguese police/army here for the past decade, there is a Portuguese supermarket in town that sells a nice array of european products and many of them reasonably priced. I bought 500mL of extra virgin olive oil (since WHEN did it become commonly known as EVOO? I refuse to use the acronym) for $4.90, which is cheaper than home brand prices in Australia, and corn fed chicken breast for $8.50 per kilo.
It’s taken a week and a lot of shop visits (my poor taxi driver), but I’ve finally started to get my head around where to get all my groceries from. Now to find the time to visit all the shops!
*All prices quoted are USD, which is the official currency of Timor-Leste