We make holes in teeth!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Day 4: In-Laws Arrive

Up for the day at 2:30. We decided that we totally played the jetlag card wrong with Julia yesterday. She isn't able to handle the forced manipulations to get her used to local time. She did well on the plane and for the first day on the ground, more or less. But she broke yesterday and slept most of the time from 3:30 until 2:15 this morning. This from a child that often sleeps 9 hours overnight. Now our approach is to milk her towards a sleep schedule that matches the local time.

The take away? I'm up again early, but this time Nat is too. By 3:00 am I'm feeding Julia the very Taiwanese meal of a white bagel with Philly cream cheese and Nat is showered. There's a local 7-11 where we're going to get coffee in a few minutes. I'm sure the workers will wonder why a whitey with a little kid is going there at 3:30 am. So it goes. That may get us to 4:00and then we'll go back out at 6:00 for breakfast. Then we wait for the house to wake up.

Nat's parents should get here around 8:00 am. We don't know what today holds exactly. We're thinking to head to Lotung until Friday then back up here for the weekend. I'm sure Nat's dad has something else in mind but that's a pretty fair guess how it goes. But why get too caught up in plans at 3:10 am on a Wednesday morning?

Going out at 3:30 elicits some interesting looks from the few locals that are awake. The lobby guard gave us a half-smile at first as he tried to put together what he was seeing. The 7-11 guy was downright perplexed. Then a tiny newspaper delivery van showed up and the guy announced, "What a beautiful baby!" Most people speak some scattered English here. On the way back we saw one of the breakfast stands opening and found out they have food at 5:00. Woo hoo! A new favorite breakfast place!

As a side note on cars here, as I mention the mini delivery van. Everything is mini here, including the tractor trailers. Do the math on that. The island is about double the size of NJ but at least 60% of it is rugged mountains where building a house is inviting a landslide. It has 25 million people. Everything needs to be smaller, especially the cars. Copious numbers of people drive scooters to work. It's entirely normal to see a guy in a 3 piece suit on a scooter.

The morning is a mish-mash of eating and people and coffee and so on, with the highlight being Nat's parents arriving at the expected 8:00. Julia was happy to see them and she got to see Lydia this morning too. Even though she was fading, once we got upstairs she perked up and lasted longer than yesterday. The 10+ hours of sleep helped. Lydia threw a tantrum because she didn't want to go to school with all the coolness around, so they let her stay home. She was understandably upset because cousin and grandparents were here so she wanted to play.

Julia lasted until 10 and while she napped we packed our luggage to bring to Lotung, our post-nap destination with Nat's parents. We were only going to bring a subset of our stuff but we decided to bring it all and then bring a subset back here for the weekend. If I'm lucky I can get some time on a bike of some sort later today. Smart money says doubtful though, since we have to do a little show and tell before anything else. Probably tomorrow is more likely.

As I'm sitting here I'm a hair still under the jet lag gun but I'm really surprised how well I'm adjusting. Given the amount of biking I do at 4:30am I think that's not a surprise. A nap wouldn't hurt but then I don't feel like I'm desperate for one. In the past I've felt it takes about a week to get there. If Julia wasn't waking me up at 2:00 I think I'd be pretty good to go. Staying up until 8:00 wasn't a problem last night.

On the road at 1:15 after lunch, a noodle dish that was good but nothing remarkable. This morning was a lot of food and not a lot of movement, so feeling a bit bloated here in the back seat. Julia is like a happy little pig now that she's well rested and with 2 more familiar faces. In the last18 hours she's gone from absolutely miserable to quite happy, thankfully.

The ride is supposed to be 1:15 which gets us there at 2:30. First order of business will be to see Nat's grandmother who is 93 years old and about 4feet tall the last time I saw her. She's the queen of the family in the old culture, so you have to go see her as soon as you get into town.

While I have some time let me explain to you where the expression Chinese Fire Drill comes from. I know my wife is going to roll her eyes when she reads this. But I'm pretty sure the expression originated with my wife's family. When a decision needs to be made they stand in a tight circle,raise their voices, and all speak at once, rapidly. I have to assume this tradition has been seen in many Asian families and in the event of a fire,the chaos surrounding it would be pretty apropos of the expression given it.

Or maybe the Asians are first rate fire fighters. Who knows?

The ride down is really awesome. I took some pictures which won't do any justice because they were from a moving car. But the landscape and how the Taiwanese work with it is nothing short of awesome. Tiny little shacks sit on top of just brutally steep hills. I can't imagine what's up there but someday I'd love to come back for a picture and hiking tour. Farms sit on grades that must literally be 45 degrees. I think you'd need to spend 6months here to get enough sunny days to film everything right. But there are so many little picturesque places here it would be a great thing to do some day. Maybe in a few years.

The reason we drive to Lotung now is that they completed a 12.9 kilometer tunnel through the mountain that separates the 2 places. So it used to be like a 2 hour train ride just from Taipei. Now we start on the other side of Taipei and it takes 1:15. That's a good idea of just how rugged these mountains are. This plus the Taipei 101 building are good indications of the direction the country is going. I imagine that if they really put their minds to it they could kick some serious ass fighting fires. I could imagine myself living here in some circumstances in the years ahead. But I said the same thing the first time I came here.

Visit with Nat's grandmother is less than 30 minutes total and everyone was stoked that Julia would repeat the name for great-grandmother in Taiwanese.I got a few pics of all 4 generations which was pretty cool. We really should do the same thing on our side of the family. Julia is starting to repeat anything we ask her to which is a pretty solid source of entertainment.

Back to the apartment in Lotung and we went out for a walk after dumping the luggage. After we got back a few aunts stopped by, one with cake the other with homemade turnip cake which apparently everyone knows I like.Dinner was some rocking Japanese food then we all went to bed at 7:30.Given that Julia crashed at 3:30 the day before, this is major progress.

Oh, and I found the exercise bike and it's a pretty nice looking bike. I adjusted the saddle and put my pedals on so it's ready to go. Hopefully it's worth something.

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