Monday, July 25, 2011

A Drenched Day

Normally, Qingdao is apparently quite sunny and lovely in the summertime (humid, but habitable).  At the present, however, the weather has chosen to take a sauna-ish turn, which meant that my roommate's glasses kept fogging up outdoors yesterday.  Today, the weather decided to rain.  A lot.

The day started out rather amusingly.  I got up when the alarm on my cell phone declared it to be 6:50, noted that it seemed quite dark for that hour, then showered and dressed.  Our bathroom was just recently remodeled, so we have a heavenly shower.  In the shower, I noted with some consternation that my watch was off by a few hours.  Sheesh, already broken in less than a week, I thought.  After I finished dressing, I discovered that the small clock in my bedroom was in agreement with my watch . . . it was 3:00 am!  The cell phone, I soon learned, was not like American ones that already know the correct time.  It needed to be told.  I corrected the error, put my pajamas back on, and quite happily went back to sleep.  I dreamed that coming to China had been nothing but a dream, then woke up confused as to what was real and what wasn't.  A cup of coffee restored me to clarity.

Along with several other teachers who live in my apartment complex, I caught the bus to school at 8:00, missing the rain by mere minutes.  The teachers at the other complex, about fifteen minutes from ours, were not so lucky.  When we arrived to pick them up, we remarked at how cute they looked, all huddling together under three umbrellas (there were about ten or twelve people).

When we arrived at the school, we had to make a run for it in pouring rain, waiting through a flooded walkway (about three inches deep).  We escaped into one of the main buildings of Baishan, the Chinese private school that shares our campus.  A small group of Chinese children laughed merrily at the sight of the soaked foreigners, and we all had to laugh as well.  My jeans felt like they were now about fifty pounds!  On the bright side, none of us felt hot anymore!

We new teachers took a tour of our gorgeous school, and I got to see my classroom for the first time (I will post pictures of both as soon as I purchase another cord for my camera).  I never dreamed that I would have such ENORMOUS bulletin boards!  I'm almost delirious with ideas for how to use them.  My classroom is the nicest I've ever had, and I am looking forward with great anticipation to starting work on it tomorrow afternoon, after my health check and a shopping trip to a home store.

After our tour and a few tutorial sessions, we took a walk (the rain had stopped) through a really neat rural area, which seemed out of place in a big city, to a little outdoor noodle "restaurant".  Basically, it was a very friendly Chinese woman cooking in a few pots under a large tarp.  There were little wooden tables, with tiny wooden stools.  As we sat hungrily awaiting our meal and munching on some delicious bread that our principal had purchased from another food stand, the skies opened up again, and a river was born.  We were flooded in less than five minutes!  The tarp kept us somewhat dry, though it kept swaying dangerously, worrying us that the strong winds may topple it.  Our feet were in about three or four inches of water pretty quickly.  We chose to find the situation amusing, and laughed and chatted while we ate our meal.  Warren, a middle school math teacher, and I are both fond of spicy food, so we bravely seasoned our food with a large scoop of a concoction made from red peppers (the tiny uber-hot ones).  We soon discovered that our food got exponentially hotter with each bite!  By the end of the meal, my lips were ablaze and my clogged sinuses had completely cleared.

Since this is my first week, I'm being fed by different people at dinnertime each night (they do this for all of the new staff).  Last night, my roommate cooked a fantastic spicy curry for me.  Tonight, the Herzogs, a wonderful family, took me out for sushi.  Although I don't do fish, there are plenty of other types of sushi that I enjoy, particularly one that I tried for the first time tonight which had dragonfruit in it.

Despite being completely soaked to the bone for more than half of the day, it was a really good day.  I feel like I've come home.  The stores are filled with all the wonderful things that I've been desperately missing since leaving Korea, I finally have food that is spicy enough to please me, there are loads of new things to try, all the people I've met are unbelievably sweet, the apartment is huge and attractive, the school blows my mind, and things just keep getting better.  I can't wait for what the next few days will bring!

No comments:

"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"