Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sweaty, Sticky Sunday

Oh, the heat!  Oh, the sweat!  It's like taking a second shower every time that you step outside.  Which makes me wonder sometimes, why do I even bother showering every morning?  This morning, on the way to a gathering of foreigners, two friends and I decided to get there the cheap way, and took the bus.  Big mistake!  This being tourist season, Qingdao is presently loaded with visitors, and the bus we needed happens to be the only one that goes to the beach.  Yipe!  Now, in both Mexico and Korea, I had the experience of being on a crowded bus . . . or so I thought.  Those buses were nothing compared to this morning!  We were packed on so tightly that I was literally butt-to-butt with a complete stranger and breast-to-breast with another (fortunately female) stranger.  Talk about international bonding!

After our gathering with other foreigners, the three of us, accompanied by a very sweet Brazilian girl, met up with three other friends for lunch.  We went to a little hole-in-the-wall Muslim noodle restaurant.  I have generally found, in my international experience, that the scudzier and more low-frills the restaurant is, the better the food will be (another rule, just like it, is that street food is the yummiest of all, despite, or perhaps because of, the lack of hygiene).  This restaurant followed that rule.  It had no air conditioning, a dirty floor, and no decorations whatsoever.  It did have seats and a table.  No beverages (common over here), so a few of us tripped next door to a little convenience store and picked up drinks.  To order, we pointed to pictures of what we wanted.  The food, when it came, was absolutely delicious.  I had some sort of slightly spicy meat (no idea what kind of meat . . . I think it was beef) and noodles dish with loads of onions.

You know, noodles are a really deceptive dish.  You can work away at them for fifteen minutes (and if your chopsticks are slippery, it really can be work), and still, your plate looks exactly the same.  You eat still more and yet, to the eye, it looks as though you've made no progress whatsoever!  I am thoroughly convinced that noodles mate and breed on the plate, and that's why they never seem to lessen.

We were joined in the restaurant by a sight that really gave me warm fuzzies inside:  Two of our high school boys decided to take out their younger siblings and some other kids for lunch.  How many teenagers do you know that would do that?  It was really sweet to see a group of about ten kids ranging in age from about five to seventeen enjoying each other's company over a meal.

After lunch, we stopped off at Tommy Boy's, a little coffee place, for iced milk teas.  My favorite there is the assam tea with pearls (tapiocas), but today I felt like trying something new, so I had a mixed pudding milk tea.  Sound weird?  It was, but I rather liked it.  The pudding was actually little squares of chocolate gelatin-like substance, and there were tapiocas in it as well.  After separating from the group, Beth and I made one more stop, at the fruit and vegetable stand near the entrance to our apartment complex.  It's run by Lotus, a super-sweet Chinese lady who speaks good English and is always so friendly when we stop in there.  She always has excellent produce, and she loves to choose the very best mangos and dragonfruit for me whenever I stop in (I'm nuts about both of those fruits).  And no, safely ensconced in our air-conditioned apartment, it's time to knuckle down and write out lesson plans for the week . . . with a few movies playing in the background, of course.

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"