07 September 2006

Mid-week outings (AKA bike adventures!)

In the midst of lesson planning, we do get time every once in a while to explore the city. Yesterday was one of those days. After waiting at school for an hour filling out forms for residency visas, we rode back in this amazing weather. It had been stinkin' HOT pretty much since we arrived, which had put a damper on the whole biking fun. For the past few weeks we'd been taking taxis to school because showing up all hot and sweaty just isn't fun for anyone. So we were totally rejoicing when cooler weather arrived and we could bike the half hour to downtown without even really being warm. It is really just the perfect weather now; it reminds me of the many evenings in the spring and summer that I've spent outside in Michigan. Going out at night is probably the most pleasant thing ever, minus the mosquitoes. Downtown is fun because we know a few landmarks, so we just wander until we find something interesting. Last night we were in search of some good food and we sure found it. It was "(Something in Chinese) Noodle Inn" and we got to sit on the second floor with a private room overlooking the street. Ordering food here is always a process because our food vocab is very limited, but we usually can make ourselves understood. This time was especially challenging for some unknown reason and it was definitely a ten minute process. But our labor was not in vain, as the food that came was delicious. Multiple bowls of noodles, great eggs and tomatoes, and tasty chicken. We did save room for dessert as it was just across the street from McDonald's and their soft-serve is a welcomed treat. That was our good biking experience from last night.
This morning was a different story. The morning commuters here are brutal; the pace is different in the morning and evening commute time, similar to the States' craziness with cars and highways during rushhour. I am learning not to be phased when huge charter busses honk
their horn right next to me and I have gotten quite good at squeezing through small spaces and maneuvering around pedestrians. This morning was just like any other until we get to our crazy intersection. There is this particularly hairy intersection where people wait for their busses and today there was a motorcycle/bus accident there. The bus was almost completely blocking the road and the two drivers decided to duke it out on the street instead of moving the vehicles out of everyone's way. The chaos that ensued was worthing capturing.
School was great today and I hope that we have all the minor details worked out. For our sake, I hope they expedite our residency applications because that will be just one less thing to worry about. Tomorrow we have a staff meeting and then dinner out with the Principal and a variety of other people. Our last school sponsored dinner was our welcoming banquet, which included duck feet and chicken knuckles. Needless to say, we are hoping that this dinner is a little less formal
and more moderate on the adventure food level. I think this weekend will be one of getting grounded for school. I know I need to plan better for the longer-range and I hope I can accomplish that this weekend. Finishing my current book will allow me to be less distracted.
Here's my ever-growing list of things I'm thankful for:
  • Cooler weather
  • Growing friendships
  • Great books
  • Skype!
  • Some much-needed encouragement from friends and family
  • China's wonderful and warm personalities (our guard at school makes my day every day, also the bike repairman was pretty awesome)
  • Continued safety when bike riding
  • A growing sense of familiarity with my immediate surroundings
  • Teaching English and science has been great so far
  • Comfort music (Over the Rhine, U2, Sigur Ros, The Postal Service and Nickel Creek...these are a few of my favorite things right now and probably forever)
  • My students

The scene we created at the bike stall on the side of the road. Some of the girls needed their bikes tuned up and their nifty back tire locks installed. Check out the crowd we drew on the right; it is not uncommon for people to just watch us as we go through everyday transactions.

The bike guy who was loving life when we came. He had such a fun spirit and tried so hard to talk to us, which consisted of saying, "okay" and "bye", but we became friends with him on small level.

The girls at dinner last night.

The drivers totally going off on each other while bringing traffic to a halt (those busses are trying to get around.) Mind you, this is a fairly busy road (CO people=Smoky Hill Road, MI people=Burton Street) and they're just chillin', TOTALLY blocking the way.

So we had to squeeze in between the blue bus and the red bus to get through the traffic jam.

This is a bag of cashews that I bought at the store today. Apparently cashews are now savage and "Cool fashion need cool taste." Hmm, I am the new man?!?

Well, on that note...that's all I really have to say. Goodness, I need to get better at writing shorter postings. Again, I apologize for the length!

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