Thursday, May 04, 2006

Easter break

We had a good break over Easter; sorry for the long spell between posts, but with camping, recovering from camping, and now the busy-ness of spring, I've gotten out of my routine.

On our trip, we traveled with two other families down the west coast of Taiwan (south of Kaohsiung city, towards Kenting), and then cut across the island on highway 9. Across is not the right word, as it implies a somewhat straight line; we curved our way over the mountains, keeping one eye out for people passing from behind, and the other eye on the oncoming traffic they'd be face to face with. It was not a bad drive overall, though – scenic vistas of lush forested valleys, and the blue-green waters of the Pacific were refreshing, as was the clean east-coast air. We camped near Taitung, at a well-appointed campground that was entirely deserted except for ourselves. The sandstone formations that make up the shoreline there are striking, almost sculptural. (You can see some pictures here.) Just up the road we found a wide sandy beach, covered with litter but otherwise, again, empty of people. I found a small cove for the kids where the surf wasn't so rough, and we spent a long morning digging in the sand and playing in the waves.

On our way home we stopped at a water park, stopped for lunch, stopped to buy ice for someone's sunburn, stopped to use the bathroom at a roadside Karaoke bar, stopped for ice-cream at 7-11, stopped to use another bathroom at a small roadside restaurant, stopped to buy onions (and use the potty) at a roadside stand, and finally made it home at dinner time. (I had wanted to stop for steamed water chestnuts, but thought better of it.) At one of our bathroom breaks we spoke with the owner while the kids were taking care of business. She has a daughter who's gone off to Belgium, and recently gave birth to a little boy. She's eager to see her new grandson – she doesn't even have a photo yet – and seemed pleased to have our company and share her news. She also looked happy to have our kids play on her tire swing. Her restaurant is fairly remote, with no other buildings within walking distance that I could see; it would seem a lonely place, but then she gets a lot of visitors like us, so maybe it's not so bad. Like most Taiwanese, she was helpful and friendly, and asked us to come again.

We've had some beautiful weather lately, brilliant blue skies with real clouds, the kind that look like something if you use your imagination. Such a nice change from the usual cap of haze. We've had a few rainy days as well (today is one, with even a bit of thunder this morning, but Nora's handling it better). I think that will be the pattern for a while now, until things are turned up a notch and we get into typhoon season.

We are down to four and a half weeks of school left, so the calendar is filling up. It's a busy time as teachers wrap up the year, and it's also when you start to realize how little time is left with the departing staff. I will be sorry to see them go, but it's exciting to know that they're moving on to new chapters in their lives. And their leaving means new arrivals, as people we've yet to meet prepare to start their Taiwan adventures. Lots of changes ahead.

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