Saturday, March 22, 2008

The World's Foremost Klutz Retains Her Title

Yesterday got off to a rather painful start. Literally. I was happily riding my bike to school when, out of nowhere, a curb showed up. I bumped the curb, and the bike and I hit the sidewalk. The bike was not injured at all, as it had something soft to land on (me). My bag went flying through the air, littering the sidewalk with its entire contents. As about twenty Koreans stared in apparent amusement, I limped about collecting everything before getting back on the bike and going to school.

When I told Cate what happened, she was very concerned. "Is the bike okay?" she asked immediately. To be fair, her next question was whether I was okay. Later, she asked me again if I was sure I wasn't hurt. I assured her that both the bike and I were just fine, although my pride was severely injured. Unfortunately, I later discovered that my camera got a bit dented in the fall (luckily it still works).

The bike accident notwithstanding, yesterday was actually a good day. When I went in to teach my afternoon classes, I discovered that Christine, one of the Korean teachers, had left a box of Dove dark chocolates for me on my desk. There was a really sweet note as well, in which she offered her help if I run into any problems ever. I have the best co-workers!

After school, Daisy and I went out to dinner with some of the other foreigners. Cate had invited me to dinner, but I already had plans with my friends, so I had to turn her down. Dinner was delicious, as always. We had pork this time. They bring a plate of it (raw) to your table along with all your side dishes, and then you cook it yourself on the grill in the center of the table. There are many ways to eat it, but the tastiest is to roll up some of the pork in a lettuce leaf with a bit of the salad and some sauce.

After dinner, we joined some more friends and went out to a soju tent. I had to take a picture of one of the side dishes there: fried silkworm larva. As much as I wanted to, I just couldn't bring myself to try one. They smelled pretty gross, and nothing about their appearance suggested that they belonged in a human mouth.
It was there at the soju tent that I finally conquered two of my biggest Korean fears. The first fear was my fear of squat toilets. Without going into details, I'll just say that while thoroughly disgusting, they do the job. My second fear has been taking a taxi alone, since I know VERY little Korean. It took me a while to catch one, but once I did, I confidently told him in Korean where to take me....and he had to call his English teacher to decipher what I said. Oh well, at least I got home safely. I guess I'll have to work a bit more on my pronunciation.

Me with Sarah, one of my many new friends.

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"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"