here i am

i suppose i was being a bit of a tease to post pictures of my bike, and then refrain from writing about my first days here.
Where to start.... my return to Yuli was a bit of a whirlwhind, filled with packing, cleaning, and goodbyes.
The trip to Yilan was rather eventful, and left me with the resolve to never again, if at all possible, travel that road by car! The first part passed rather quickly, and we stopped for breakfast in Hualian. We then proceeded to Taroko, but didn't get very far because they were doing some sort of road repair, and the length of the delay was too long, since we had to be in Yilan around noon. But I got a couple of nice pictures out of it, and some gorgeous ones up the eastern coast. The water was so blue and vibrant, I don't think my camera fully captured it! Unfortunately, things went downhill (and around every hill possible) from there, and I spent the rest of the trip feeling very carsick. I'll spare you the gory details.

It didn't take long to unload my stuff even though there was quite a bit of it, and I'm mostly unpacked now, save for some miscellaneous items I haven't gotten around to sorting through yet. On Friday night Theresa (a retired English teacher who's been taking good care of me) and her husband took me out for dinner to a cantonese restaurant on the top floor of the department store here.

This weekend was mid-autumn festival, or moon festival. The main thing people do here is get together with their families and have a barbecue. Sure enough, I was invited to a number of bbq's, though I only ended up attending one. That one was held here at the church, and was an interesting experience, though a little draining for my introverted self. I talked with a few girls from high school (two of whom were in my classes on monday), who were quite eager to practice their English with me. Most other people kind of ignored me though or would come up really close like they wanted to talk, but then run away when i asked them their name.

Sunday morning church was a much better experience. I really enjoyed it. The pastor's son, who just returned from studying in Florida, translated the sermon for me. I already knew 3 of the songs they sang, and the others weren't too difficult to catch on to. At the end of the service I had to go to the front and introduce myself. Another fun thing was that I met another foreigner! She's an American, and has been here for about 7 weeks. It was her second time going to church so she had to introduce herself too (even though she'd introduced herself the first time). Afterward I went for breakfast with her and Jackie (the pastor's son). It was really exciting to meet another foreigner, thuogh she lives kind of far away, hopefully we can hang out sometimes.

I taught classes all day yesterday, which began with my ride not showing up to take me to the first school! My main contact teacher there was still in class, so I called the few other people I know to ask what to do. Fortunately, as I was waiting outside, the pastor happened along, and offered to drive me. I had the exact same lunch at the second school *shudder* but the teacher I mentioned last week wasn't there. I enjoyed my classes, but ended up having to switch classrooms halfway through my third class because the a/c broke in the room we were in. I wasn't too sad about that though because none of the whiteboard markers in that classroom really worked well... **note to self: bring own whiteboard markers to girls high school.

The students are really adorable. My favorite part of the classes has been the time when I have them to write questions to ask me, and I answer them. Often my answers will get a collective "ooh" from most of the students, almost unconsciously, and then they'll all laugh. I blew my cover about not speaking Chinese in one of my classes when I (accidentally?) responded (in English) to something a girl said in Chinese, which then caused a big stir.

Today I had to go to the hospital for a medical exam, as part of the process of applying for my new visa. In all, it took about 2.5 hours to do some very simple things. In my opinion it's all rather useless.. I got blood taken and I didn't even faint! Aren't you proud of me??

The phrase of the day, spoken by one of my students yesterday is:
"Ta ting de dong guo yu, bu yao shuo huai hua." which means "She understands Chinese, so don't say any bad words." kind of funny since I don't actually know any 'bad words'.