Time for a little loose-end trimming. With summer travel just around the corner, I sense the need to start wrapping things up – not that I can't blog from home, but my mind is already halfway across the ocean and I don't want to leave a bunch of unfinished Taiwan stories lying about while I chase after it.
First, the MV Doulos. We did get a tour the night I took doubles to Roopa; she was leading her team in drama practice, but her friend Hannah graciously led us around. We covered the whole of the ship, from engine room to laundry room, and then had dinner in the mess with both of them. (Roopa happily skipped the chow line and just nibbled on her doubles.) My camera was broken at the time, but the picture I would put here for you if I could is the view from the darkened ship's deck, looking into the brightly lit laundry: giant, bright yellow commercial washers line the walls, clean shirts on hangers hang from the pipes that traverse the ceiling, and in the foreground, hanging in the doorway, a dozen clown wigs – hot pink, lime green, rainbow-striped – dangle from the drying rack they're clipped to. It startled me and made me laugh. (And curse my broken camera.)
A few days later I did pick up Roopa for her Big Day Out, and Hannah joined us, too. They were in need of a day of rest, so we picked up some steak and potatoes at Dollar's and came back to our house for dinner. They were thrilled to sit in a room that wasn't moving, on a real couch, and just have the time to catch up with each other. Their duties on board keep them running in different directions, which is harder on them as their time to leave the Doulos approaches. Hannah will leave this month, and Roopa has to decide if she will leave in September and return to Trinidad, or remain on board one more year before marrying and moving to Australia. It was a pleasure to get to know both of them better, and to learn about the inner workings of such a venture. The protocal for courtship on a boat full of young men and women was particularly fascinating.
Next, the bread. My rosemary-sea salt loaf had good flavor, but I was surprised to see that the salt which I sprinkled on top blackened. It didn't burn so much as smoke, so the flavor was actually fine, but aesthetically, black salt was not what I was looking for. I will dig around to see what solutions I can find. In the meantime, I have another loaf going today, cinnamon raisin this time. It'll go in the oven in another couple hours.
And I recently added another book to my reading list, Peter Hessler's Oracle Bones. I got it for Christmas, blazed through it, but then forgot to mention it here. Highly recommended reading, especially if you read his first book, River Town. (It stands alone, so read it either way.) Hessler has a real talent for finding the hidden threads that connect seemingly disparate ideas and events, and his general love of China comes through, even as he struggles, frustrated, to understand her.
I, on the other hand, have no brilliant thread running through these lines, other than the relief of getting these lingering details out of my head and into print. I feel a bit freer now to move forward, but I will try to stay in the present long enough to give you a few more stories about happenings here.