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Thursday, November 19, 2015

View from my Window

I don't often take time to stare out the window.  Maybe a glance now and then, but it is a rare moment when I really take the time to look.  I don't have my camera with me, but maybe I can describe a bit of what I see.

Hundreds of mopeds are parked across the street.  They stand in a long row, the white liscence plates facing out.  They all look the same and I often wonder how the owner finds his bike.  Maybe it's by the helmet hanging on the handle, screaming out individuality in a sea of sameness.

A man stands by the street--sometimes he sits in a portable chair he has brought with him.  He is wearing a tan, Japanees style hard hat and a red cape.  Yellow trims the cape that is draped to the ground.  He stands still, facing the ground as people walk by.  He has something in his hands.  I don't know if he is a monk, but no one has offered him anything.  He will be there all day, barely noticed by anyone but

A taxi stops and the driver helps a woman get into a wheel chair.  It takes all he has to heft her out of the car.  She is wrapped in shawls and pink blankets.  Someone runs up and whisks her away.

A young couple stroll by.  She is on her phone, her straight, long black hair flung over her shoulder.  He holds her hand as they briskly walk by.

Shades of green marble the park across the street.  Like a Monet, indiviudual leaves blur together creating dimention and feeling.  The wind blows the long leaves of the palms in ribbons across the sky. 

In the center of the park is a large, renaissance sytle building.  I am told it is left over from the Japanese occupation of Taiwan in the early 1900's .  It is an oasis of Savanah charm in the midst of steel and glass.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Catch a Wave and You're Sitting on Top of the World

Playing in the water is part of who we are.  Chad grew up swimming on his school’s team, I had a pool in my backyard and we both were lifeguards in high school.  When the kids were little and we lived near Lake Michigan, I would load them into the car a couple times a week and head out to the beach.  There’s just nothing like sand between your toes and waves to play in.  The last island we lived on, Chad, Damon and I got our diving certifications.  Diving hasn’t turned out to be my favorite sport, but I tried it because I love the water.  Now we find ourselves on an island once again.  We’ve been out to the beach a few times, Chad and Elena played in the waves.  Taiwan isn’t a “lay on the golden sand and bask in the sun” sort of country, but it is a “grab a surf board” sort of a place.  

We set up lessons with Rising Sun Surf Inn 1½ hours away.  On the sand, we laid on top of our boards following the instructions from our teacher.  Theoretically, if I paddled hard, placed my hands on the board then hopped to my feet I would be surfing.  Of course it was much harder than that.  After a few tries though, I found myself flying ahead of the wave, popped into the air and raised my arms in victory.  Not exactly what I was supposed to do, but the feeling I had of success simply expressed itself in pure excitement.  

Surfing turns out to be loads of hard work.  There’s this big board you have to drag out into the ocean while battling the waves.  Then you have to turn the board around and get one top of said board.  As the wave approaches, you paddle like crazy.  This is more of a mental activity rather than anything that propels you towards shore. Then comes a moment when you are completely connected with the water, wave and your board.  You plant your hands and pop onto your feet in one smooth movement.  For a brief moment or two, I experienced the sheer exhilaration of riding a wave.  It's completely addicting.  

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Beach Clean-up Day

We've settled in and life is beginning to find its routine.  We're having fun exploring and getting involved and even enjoying just the routine of living in one place and knowing we will be here for awhile.   I hope to catch-up, in the next few weeks, with some of the things we have been doing and some of the observations I've made.

We joined in, one Saturday, with a bunch of other people from AIT to do some beach clean-up.  Each year Taiwan sponsors various clean-up days on beaches around the island.  There were probably about 200 people on this one beach picking up trash.  It was very well organized and turned out to be a lot of fun.  They had gloves and bags and pinchers for us to use.  The Taiwanese people are amazingly clean and you typically don't see trash around.  (You also don't see garbage cans around either, but that's a different story.)  But after a few typhoons, stuff gets blown in and blown around and it takes a lot of work to get things cleaned up again.  So we just walked around with our  pinchers picking up little bits of refuse and putting it in our bags.  It was amazing the pile of trash two hundred people collected.  

We explored a bit after we were finished and came across a harbor full of these fishing boats.  They are strung with huge light bulbs.  Man I would love to see them all lit up at night!  From what I read, they are used to light  up the boat and attract fish.  I'd like to return when they are coming in from a trip and see them unload the fish.  I'll have to ask around a bit and see what I can learn!