At it again

It may be hard to start anew, but we often forget the lessons of the past and are thus allowed to move forward with more rewarding mistakes. I am "at it again" writing this blog, which begins in in December because I accidently erased it. I am "at it again" living abroad because I I erased from my memory the continous miscommunication and confusion of it. Luckly you can sit back in the comforts of your native language and culture and enjoy my adventures, hopefully with a laugh or snicker.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

How big groups cause time management issues or Why I have no friends

On Friday, a group of the Fulbright girls planned to hike out to a natural hot springs near one of Katherine's schools in Datong. I was so excited about this prospect that I forgot my time learned addage- more than three people going someplace together is likely to be logisticly problematic, especially in the Fulbright ETA setting. Annalily, Katie and I arrived only 5 minutes late at 5:20 in Datong. We found Katherine but no one else. After waiting a little while we found out that we were only waiting for 2 people and the rest would come later. Since the hotsprings were sort of off trail on a riverbed, I wasn't sure how they would meet us, but I didn't ask. After attempting to call the two missing people we decided to divert ourselves walking over to the corner store. On the way we ran into a pile of first grade students. They were more enthusiastic than almost any students I've met in Taiwan, they clung to Katherine and after a few minutes to me too. They loved having their pictures taken and practically preformed for the camera. It was certainly a diversion, but we decided after waiting an hour that we would just go to the hot springs the four of us. At that moment the 2 missing girls called to tell us that they were with the others who were coming late. Thanks for calling folks.

We made it to the trail and it was starting to get turn to dusk. Katie was particurally worried about this aspect and given that the trail was a rather dangerous path over a rocky riverbed with a river fording in the middle, she may have been right, but we moved ahead anyway. When we were close to fording the river, the other girls called from the head of the trail. At that moment a major 4wheel drive vehicle comes down a road we didn't know about and fords the river. Katherine stops him and gets him to give the 3 of us a ride while she goes back to get the others. He and his girlfriend say okay, but they are obviously not happy. I don't think they wanted anyone else at their hot springs and they certainly didn't want to help disturb their romance by driving us. I tried to make small talk saying "Ni de che hen bang"- Your car is great. After a long pause he answered slowly in English "My car is small." It was true, we were scrunched, but that ended the conversation.

When we arrived where they thought the springs were, they left us in the back to get out and call a friend to see if they were right. Finally we were able to get out, but not knowing which dark puddle of water we were supposed to get in without Katherine we just sat on the rocks of the riverbed and watched the couple, who were not accknowledging our exsistance, move their car, flashing and strobing from all directions to a place where they could set up their living room for the evening. Katie was ready to leave and we realized just how stranded we were if Katherine didn't come back, they had the flash lights, we didn't, we hadn't forded the river on foot so we didn't know the best spot. I had just said "Well, worse comes to worse, we can sleep on the warm rocks by the hotsprings and go back in the morning, we'll be hungry and thirsty but we'll be okay," when the other's arrived.

We got a lot of apologies, which I'm sorry to say I'm not great at taking. I would have told everyone that if they couldn't arrive at 5:15 then they just shouldn't come, but I'm not as nice as Katherine is. We enjoyed the hotsprings for about an hour. I mostly just soaked up the heat and tried to avoid those whose prior lack of presence had annoyed me as much as their current presence. They had brought mantou to eat, alliviating hunger and all was relatively good. The hot springs was like the one I remember in Steamboat by the river,really hot is some places where the springs flowed from the rocks and much cooler in others where the river water mixed in. After about an hour I realized that I was ready to leave, but I also realized that I was bound by darkness to leave with everyone else. Luckily Annalily thought it was starting to rain and a few minutes later it actually started to mist. That was enough to get everyone back on the trail in a hurry.

We saw tons of frogs on the way back and one even landed on Annalily's toe. I drove the long way home and was back by 10 pm.

Moral of the story, if you value time not wasted, you will probably have less friends.