Each Saturday I have the day off so it’s off to Capelle’s to go shopping. If you’re lucky the bus comes on time (if at all). It’s only a 10 minute drive from the Menen Hotel to Capelle’s but it would take you an hour to walk in the heat and the sun.

Capelle’s is like an old-fashioned department store cum supermarket – a cross between Target and Coles. Downstairs there’s the supermarket section which is pretty well stocked, if a little over-priced. For example a box of cereal can cost up to $12. There’s also a designated stationery section with stickers and scrap-booking supplies, pens and diaries and I even saw dictionaries there today. Of course there is the obligatory souvenir section with caps and sarongs and T-shirts that read: I’m going to my happy place – Nauru.

Upstairs there’s now a furniture section that stocks beds and lounges. Clothing and sound and electronics also find their place upstairs. The most fascinating section is the tailor’s shop. On my first Saturday here this rotation I chose some tropical patterned fabric, pored over old Butterick and McCalls pattern books and finally selected a style for a dress to be made. The Chinese tailor then measured me up – width of shoulder, shoulder to bust, bust to waist, side length, front length – about a dozen measurements in all. I said I’d pick it up in 3 weeks and when I went back this morning it was ready to try on. It fitted perfectly! I now have a one-of-a-kind tailor-made dress for under $50. Bargain!

To finish off my shopping trip I always stop at the little take away shop for a soft serve ice-cream…mmmm. As I sat and enjoyed my ice cream I watched th families come and go, children in trolleys, friends greeting each other, others buying an early lunch of chicken wings and chips. The only thing missing was the coffee. A proper barista coffee shop would make a killing here with all the ex-pats.

It’s good on a day off to see that “normal” life continues outside the less-then-normal and constantly changing environment in which I work.

Good to have the balance.