Saturday, October 3, 2009

typhoons, moon cakes, and drafting

the rain has started. i could feel a light drip drip this morning, as the glass awning in the hostel common area is a bit leaky. apparently there are two typhoons headed this way, supposed to hit the south, but the island is prepared for the worst. schools will close if necessary just as they would for a snow day in the US, and umbrellas are a popular accessory, as well as sold on most street corners. helen and i were hoping to travel to taichung tomorrow, but we will wait out the storm. ... there was also a small earthquake last night at around 1:30am... though i thought it was one our dorm mates making babies, or at least making the bed shake like crazy.

perhaps with the upcoming Moon Festival this weekend, also known as Mid-Autumn Festival, we have all been knit-browed and wondering what the new season will bring. this is supposed to be an important chinese holiday, deriving from several legendary stories involving monks, monkeys, moon goddesses, jade rabbits, elixers, lanterns, and rebellions with secret messages hidden inside moon cakes. the taiwanese celebrate with family, friends, and lovers, posting up on the sidewalks and hunched over a mini grills (chopsticks picking charcoal) barbecuing meat and veggie skewers. moon cakes are eaten (small, round, and filled with redbeans, pinapple, ect.).
we met with a friend named Eileen. she is an old friend of Helen's sister in-law, and though she is "quarter life," she doesn't look nor act a day over 25. she took us to a puppet show followed by peaking opera. i liked the stringed puppets; the dancing and singing controlled by two friendly looking taiwanese stagehands. the puppets sang of lovers and hopes for a new year; played ball, and watched the 'lions dance' (two mini chinese dragons shaking their bums a lot!) the second half was a spectacle of brightly clad characters (spider queen, monk, pig, monkey, rooster king). lots of dancing and stage fighting, and though the choreography was a little off, and the actors a little cheesy, it was funny nonetheless. also according to Eileen, i was sitting next to the head ceo of Acer (huge pc dealer in taiwan).

this past week has been another flurry of resumes and interviews. one interview was conducted by a young taiwanese (lived in LA went to school in Minnesota...), half his head was shaved, wearing red velor filas and who sent his 'secretary' to come fetch me (wearing zebra stripped leggings) twenty minutes late. kindergarten is the target market here in taiwan... despite rumors of it being illegal. another interview was for a much larger organization with several chain schools around taiwan. i felt like i was in an interrogation room... bright light, bombarded by hypotheticals, (ex: what would you do if you were out of tp and had to ask a local.... really?). it lasted an hour and a half. i felt drained. helen went to the same interview. her's lasted two hours. she's a champ... can talk her way in or out of anything... and she came back to the hostel smiling all over.

we've been having more luck ordering food. one night, all three of us famished, nose pressed to windows, were stopped by a man on the street who told us to go to the popular noodle soup shop on the corner. we couldn't read the menu and checked a random box on the ordering ticket. pleasantly surprised my soup had bits of delicious beef, helen's liver, and ashley's a mixed bowl of gnochi noodles and beef bits. i still like the lunch boxes here with mixed greens, assorted meat pieces, rice, and tea egg. shindao night market is my favorite for street vendors... fried chicken (big tender fillet), scallion egg pancake, fresh squeezed juice. helen and i also went to a famous buddhist buffet... picking from a spread of variety tofu, mock meats, all sorts of veggies, even sushi, they weigh it by the pound. the woman said free soup... the soup we ladled in our cups was not the free stuff. she said it would be a gift. i picked the mushroom medicine soup. it may be the best thing i've tasted in taiwan.

i am making plans to work in the mountains on a tea farm for a couple of weeks. the girls are doing great... ashley has more job offers and helen's determination is seething. we came to this island with different motivations... and for each it will draft differently. in the mean time we are still processing.

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