Stationery shopping

I really love shopping for stationery. There is nothing better than wandering around Officeworks, plying the stationery aisles of Kmart, making a round of Kikki K or Smiggle, or longingly browsing a boutique stationer. I just love it.

Here in Latin America it is quite a different shopping experience.

On my first day of Spanish classes, I found a papeleria where instead of wandering around, touching and feeling items that arouse curiosity, everything is behind a glass case, or tucked away on a shelf out back somewhere. So you have to ask for what you want. On Spanish Class Day 1 I was just looking for a notebook, a cuaderno. It is also important to ask for one with lineas, or lines, as the majority of latinos write on that graph paper with little squares. I don`t really understand that one at all. Perhaps a question to ask my teacher tomorrow.

At the end of classes last week, I needed something to put my photocopied handouts in. I asked my teacher to tell me the name of the plastic pocket he had, and he said separador plasticos. I probably should have used this terminology at the papeleria because when I said “Estoy buscando por algo para proteger mis hojas” (I`m looking for something to protect my pages”) the joker responded “¿Policia?”. It was quite funny and I laughed a lot. Instead of a plastic pocket, I got one of those coloured plastic things you close using the string and two circles. I am still debating the functionality of these closures.

Anyways, todays papeleria outing was for paperclips. While in the library doing my homework, I asked a couple of guys at the same table how to say paperclip, since I happened to have a sole example with me. It was funny to hear that the answer was “clip”. That is pretty easy to remember, and the girl at the papeleria knew exactly what I was after when I asked.

Whilst stationery shopping is rather different than in Australia, there are good points too. I only wanted a few paperclips, I didn`t need a whole box, so when I asked for 15 paperclips it wasn`t a strange request. It saves a whole lot of waste instead of buying everything in bulk like we seem to do at home and are constantly pressured into doing by retailers.

So my papeleria expenses so far are:

  • cuaderno, 200 page, A5 = $2,500 pesos
  • plastic folder = $2,500 pesos
  • 15 paperclips = $350 pesos

A grand total of $5,350 Colombian pesos or AUD$2.85 (the paperclips cost 18 cents).

Stay tuned for more papeleria shopping trips!

A stationery experience

There is so much to learn here. I am like a sponge, soaking up every detail, every conversation, every name drop. I love the potential to learn and I guess that’s why I’m here. Today I had the simple task of getting copies of a script, which turned into a learning adventure for me.

I had found a copy place, Copymat Hollywood, using the review website Yelp and had mapped my walking route there. I followed the stars on the Walk of Fame there, passing by the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Bing Crosby, Audrey Hepburn etc. It’s so hard to not look down when you walk along the streets because you are constantly looking to see whose star you’re stepping over.

I stopped in to Bed, Bath and Beyond for a browse, filing away prices and products for future reference (namely some handheld beaters so I can become the Pavlova Queen of LA) and then got some cash out of my new bank, the Bank of America.

It was here that I saw FedEx Office (which apparently used to be called Kinko’s) and is a copy place so I decided I might get my scripts printed off there. They have great self-service machines that you put your debit/credit card into and then your USB to print from. Unfortunately, I came up against one of those lost in translation moments, one of paper size. Because the pdf was saved to A4, the printer wouldn’t recognise it and just decide to print it to the American Letter size. And there was no override facility.

So then I continued on to Copymat Hollywood where it was smaller, more personable and I could change the print settings myself. Plus, it worked out to be less than half the price FedEx Office had quoted. What a win!

Conveniently, diagonally opposite Copymat was a Staples store. Staples is the equivalent of Officeworks in Australia and there were so many aisles to browse, although I only ended up with a packet of highlighters that were on sale for $2.20 and a membership card.

On the way back home in the patchy weather (cool and needing a cardigan in the shade, but hot and sweaty in the sunshine) I called in to Trader Joes supermarket and picked up a couple of essentials, bread (sweet and yucky) and corn chips. I told the check out guy it was my first time and he asked me how I’d found my visit, that was nice.

My outing ballooned into a 2 hour browse-a-thon, but at least I got back to HQ with the goods; six lovely clean scripts.

Today’s fortune cookie (from Vietnamese in Silver Lake) reads:
Imagination is more important than knowledge