We make holes in teeth!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Day 10: Groove Finding

So far so good as Julia slept until almost 8:00 this morning. Staying up until 10:00 wasn't too difficult last night. Now we need to get her used to this pattern and things will work out for the better on a daily basis, we hope. She definitely responded well to my trying to give her more attention.

Went out this morning and I was able to get 4 coffees as well as go to a food stand and get a bite to eat, all in Mandarin. If I get stranded here I should be able to eat, and drink coffee at least. I also know how to ask where the bathroom is. So I can eat and shit, drink and piss. Now I need to be able to ask for a bed and I'll be all set.

Nat's 5th aunt brings some more homemade turnip cake for breakfast #2 which is one of my favorites. Then her 6th aunt comes down with her cousin's wife who is in town to vote (for the bad guy) this coming Saturday. These 2 visits are the perfect example of the quick-hitting visit technique. After they leave Nat's mom goes to the doctor because she's still sick from before we left. She's back in 30 minutes.

On the road at 9:30 to the tea farm, but a different farm than we used to go to. Apparently a lot of places cut their tea with Chinese or Vietnamese tea because it's cheaper that way. Or so the story goes, which means we need to be selective about what we buy. I don't drink as much tea as I used to but I still drink, usually a cup a day or so. I really should lean more on tea and less on coffee. It's healthier and I have a good source of reasonably cheap and very good tea here.

Eventually Julia blows when she falls off a chair and hits her head on the big wooden table. She was bored and monkeying around on a chair and it tipped over. I was close but not close enough so I couldn't save her. Not a big fall but that paved the way for the next 2 hours as she was generally unhappy the rest of the way. We stopped at a little artist shop on the way back and she kept pestering us to pick her up and go see the dogs, who wanted nothing more than to go eat her but she found it funny. Better than crying I guess.

The rest of the trip home was her screaming, which might help Nat's dad understand that you really need to make it quick, a concept he's not very good at. When we got home she ate a little bit of this and that then went to sleep at 1:30, which is a good time. We had an assortment of stuff from a local stand that was good, as usual. Some fatty pork and pig intestine, greens, fried root of some kind, 2 soups, and another fruit I've never seen in the states. The fruit was awesome.

At this point there's no question I'm lethargic. Is it because of the excessive eating, I don't know. I think I see why Calvin is the anchor he is. It's way too easy to overeat here and every meal is treated as a small party. Because of this, I needed to spend another hour on the exercise bike after lunch. If I'm lucky I can get 3 more hours in total before I fly back. But the reality is that just today and tomorrow look likely and Thursday will be a rush out of town.

Did 50 minutes on the bike before I had to hit the showers and start the pageant to see more relatives. When I was done I felt totally shot. I did a fairly hard workout but man that was like a ton of bricks. This is more than falling out of shape over vacation. I think I'm stretched way too thin right now. Sitting around after the shower, I felt excessively tired. I think I'm just spent from vacation and I could use to sleep 10 hours a night. I'm getting a solid 8 a night but I guess it's not enough. Maybe I should skip exercise for the rest of the trip.

This afternoon's Tour de Lotung is Nat's aunt then dinner with some indeterminate number (a number between 1-3) of her uncles. Really this is a bit insane. We haven't even gotten to night market yet and we only have today and tomorrow then we're going back to Taipei Thursday. So we need to bargain a bit to try and get Wednesday night free.

Julia wakes up at 3:40 which is 1:10 later than yesterday. It's obvious this kid needs sleep. Wow, she slept 2+ hours and we had to wake her up. Well I guess we're in the later pattern, which is good. I think. After a few minutes we're back in the car where she declares "TV" then repeats "mommy up" randomly until we get there.

First stop is Nat's aunt (dad's side) who just got out of the hospital.

Oh, but no! The first stop is Nat's grandma! We specifically told her dad we needed to start taking it easy with this stuff. So as we pull up to the door, neither of us moves. Literally, not at all. Nat looks back at me like, "Are you for real?" We both say again that we need to take it easy with her and we reluctantly go in for a little bit. Nat says to me, "I already told him twice." Nat's dad keeps the visit down to 10 minutes.

Second stop is Nat's aunt (dad's side) who just got out of the hospital. Thankfully he got out this week or we'd all be going to a hospital for a visit. If you've gotten the impression that Nat's dad is nuts, well he is. But I think he's a generally a really good guy. He just goes a little overboard with the family stuff. He's just a little gung ho and out of touch with the needs of a 2 year old, despite this morning's screaming tirade.

We get to stop #2 and the garbage trucks are out. I haven't explained the garbage truck phenomenon yet. Basically it goes like this. The garbage trucks blare really loud circus music as they drive through town. Seriously. This is because you need to take the garbage down to the truck and throw it in as it passes by. So they need to announce their presence and this is how it's done. The streets here are too narrow and have too many wild dogs to let you leave bags out. I tried to get a picture but it came out all blurry. We get there when there are at least 2 trucks going through town, and the 2 dogs on either side of the house are barking their heads off. And incomprehensibly, someone starts shooting off fireworks. Really this happened, I shit you not. So of course you expect our super sensitive child to blow her lid. But she doesn't. She smiles and gets excited because of the dogs. All of the sudden she loves dogs, even if they want to devour her.

Nat's aunt has a 3 year old grandson who has a boatload of toys. To top off the happiness she finds herself among a load of toys. When it's time to leave she doesn't want to. But I divert her attention by suggesting we look for the dogs. As we walk out the door, Nat's cousin was there and yet another hockey match broke out between him and her dad.

Before we left, Nat's uncle gave me 2 bags of tea. Actually he gave me 1 but his aunt gave me another one because she said the first one wasn't that good. This is the uncle that was in the hospital. He's a really nice guy and the last time I was there he tried to give me a huge framed picture of Suou that was hanging on his wall.

Stop #3 is back to the oldest uncle's to drop off a gift but only Nat and her mom go in so it's really a 5 minute stop. We get to the restaurant at 6:05 for stop #4, which is dinner with 2 of the uncles (#3 and #4, #2 is Nat's dad). I think Julia should be more or less OK except for her being bored. She's had plenty of rest and we go into it in a pretty good mood.

Nat's 3rd uncle hands us a bag with 2 more bags of tea in it. This is the uncle that drove us all over the mountains to Pinlin last time only to find out the tea museum was closed. Also, uncle #4 was the one who drove us down the winding road on the East coast of the island to Taroko Gorge. Give Nat's dad's family this. They sure as hell go the extra yard to help you out.

This is another one of "those meals" so I pace myself well and do not overeat. I'm still full but not atrociously so. This time we brought props to play with so Julia was content to sit for almost the entire 90 minute meal. I don't know anything they said, but it sure was an enjoyable meal all told. Good food and a seemingly good bunch of people.

But then Julia pooped and we had forgotten our diaper bag. Game, set, match, and we're out of there.

With the sleep schedule and the props at dinner and the DVD in the car we're getting a lot closer to having our groove down with her. As long as she gets attention we seem to have things more or less down pat. We get another day of eating tomorrow then we're off to Taipei to eat some more.

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