Seven months is apparently long enough to grow fond of a place. Don’t get me wrong. I want to come home. I have greatly desired to be home in Idaho a number of times. But I discover, with some surprise, that I have a rather long list of what I will miss about Taiwan.
First on the list is people. Our language tutors have become our friends and it will be odd to not be able to see them every week, to share recipes and discuss life, both during and after our lessons. Then there’s our watchman/handyman/butler, “Uncle” Huang. He is a dear smiling face, not only very helpful, but always pleased to see us head off to explore the city and offer some new vocabulary words.
We never learned enough Chinese to communicate much with him, or the family that runs the buffet restaurant downstairs and a few feet around the corner. The restaurant is also their home and there is a piano at one end of the dining area that Natalie was allowed to play on before we rented a piano. The food is quite different than what we are used to and we could never quite tolerate enough to constitute a real meal, but it was also a good place to meet neighbors.
Just last week the fruit vendor that I buy from the most commented ( in gestures, a few words of Chinese, and a very brief translation from his son) that he hadn’t seen me in a while. Is it normal to miss your produce vendors?
and taxi drivers? When I took Greg’s mom to Costco last week, the taxi driver from No Extra Charge went out of his way to give me a very cheerful greeting. And there are several people in the actual Shi Dong market building that have gone out of their way to help me or just visit in a friendly way. These two people below sell us our most of our eggs. The young lady made quite an effort to make sure she gave me the calendar for the whole building so that I wouldn’t accidentally try to do my shopping when it is closed on Mondays. I believe the young man is her brother.
The ladies at the salon I have been to the most are very personable.
I will miss more than just the back and shoulder massages that come with the haircut/color. These are given very enthusiastically by the young lady on the left. She also enjoyed trying to help me practice Chinese. The woman in the middle gave me a manicure and lots of energetic conversation. The lady on the right is the same age I am and hides it well. She is very sweet, has worked here for 30 years and is a supervisor. CoCo also works in this building and has helped me immensely in practicing Mandarin. I also help her with English. What didn’t I talk about with her? I will definitely miss CoCo. I will get a picture of her on Friday.
Here is one of the nice people at the street corner dumpling shop that we just started to frequent on the way home from buying produce:
There are some pleasant ladies who run the pottery shop about a 3 minutes walk from my front gate. Here is a picture of the roof, where an amazing number of beautiful pieces sit in the weather collecting water and dirt. Greg’s mom (in photo below) and I went shopping there Monday for nearly 2 hours. The inside is more orderly, but still quite dusty, giving a sense of archeology. There were many good finds.
Then the nice lady on the right, after carefully packaging everything, helped us carry it home. She said it was her duty and she definitely wouldn’t let the watchman carry the bags up. It was hers to do. She also said to bring back anything we changed our minds about or that arrived broken. So she was not only a gracious shop keeper, politely offering information without any sales pressure, she was the epitome of service. I believe it is her mother on the left, who has owned the shop for around 25 years. I have browsed in the shop several times previously without buying anything. I will miss their smiling faces.
I will miss the video store clerk of the little ‘hole-in-the-city’ shop where we rent videos these days. He is so patient in attempting to help us understand the process and due dates. Again, we are limited to one or two English words with a heavy accent, or our smattering of Mandarin. We can’t be that important to his sales base. I don’t even see other expatriates in that section of town.
Speaking of expatriates, I’ve enjoyed getting to know many of them as well. It is fun to both meet them as individuals and as representatives of their countries. I still need pictures of some of them that I have spent more time talking to, as well as the helpful staff at the Community Center.
There are other little details of life here that would be pleasant to transplant. The kids WALK to soccer practice and almost every game! The dogs riding shot gun on the scooters are entertaining. Road work is done in a day. There is always something in bloom and never any ice on the roads. The walking path is along a stream.
But I won’t miss being so far away from my family and long time friends. The typhoons, large cockroaches, and packs of stray dogs are gladly left behind. It will be nice to be able to communicate more readily with nearly everyone and find clothing in our sizes. It will be nice to wander out in the yard, my yard and garden. I can’t be in two places at once, but I’d sure like to come back.