Thursday, June 16, 2011

Not that zen....

Craving Efficiency
OK I admit it the whole inefficiency thing is getting on my nerves. I’m trying really hard to be zen and use my ashtanga yoga breathing to simply go with the flow. However, it just seems ridiculous to EMPTY the pool every three days. This is not a small pool; at it’s longest point it’s a nice 25m. We are in a Chinese Academy of Sciences facility; can these people not use some chlorine? And I admire the fact that the architects designed the houses here to model Dai homes which are open, made of bamboo and raised a few feet above the ground to allow for cows and chickens to reside beneath. But they might have considered the fact that in the tropics wood swells, and if you provide no space between the joints it buckles. The kids have a fascinating little mountain growing out of the floor in their bedroom… The other cute house detail involves the master bedroom suite; which Eli now occupies. He has Internet, a big bed, a patio, a little desk, and a large rattan armoire. He does not however have a mattress—just a box spring. That works for him; not us.

My favorite little bits of local news involve the bank and the doctor. We have a bank account with The Agricultural Bank of China. This seemed fine and dandy except that they are currently tearing down the bank in town; no bank = no cash. This is a total cash economy. So we sent our friends to the big city with our bankcard and our secret passcode. (turned out the card didn’t work anyway so they lent us a big wad of cash) As for the doctor we were told that there would be a doctor on the premises. Well it turns out she paid one visit to her husband and declared his house so messy as to be completely uninhabitable and high tailed it for the capital of Yunnan—a one hour plane ride away. Our pediatrician thankfully partakes in e-medicine.

Rebecca, meanwhile, turns out to be the most acclimated of all of us. She strutted her stuff last night. Yesterday was graduation here and the original plan was for all of us to attend a banquet, however, the general consensus was that it would be loud, require good behavior from the kids, and have nothing they would eat. By the time we decided to pass on the banquet I had gotten my head around no cooking or cleaning and was feeling cooked out from the fabulous pizza quesadillas we had for lunch. So we decided to go into town and try a new restaurant that the students all love. Rebecca actually knew where it was. We were all a little dubious when we sat down and realized that it didn’t have even a Chinese menu and the table next to us had at least a dozen beer bottles underneath it and some very drunk guys. But we were led into the kitchen, which, among other things included a tree trunk and machete as cutting board and paring knife. We pointed at food we wanted and then they cooked it up. The local food here is extremely spicy even by Chinese standards, so Manuel pointed at the hot peppers and said no. And I repeatedly said not too spicy in Chinese. (I think that’s what I said) We somehow ordered about seven dishes, way too many but the whole extravaganza including two large beers was only eleven bucks. We all (except Jonathan) liked what we think were green peanuts. They were cooked with garlic and not much else. The mashed potatoes with scallions were also pretty stunning and the kids snarfed them up. Somehow, our request about lack of spicieness did not make it to our greens. They had so much bite that I couldn’t eat them. We think it was supposed to be BYOB because when we asked for a beer the woman who owned the restaurant ran next door and bought two. Rebecca took me to a “convenience store” to buy water bottles for the kids. At the end of the meal she went and got a check and translated the price for her father, who looked shocked at her abilities. She then led us to a “coffee shop” where she had heard they had real ice cream. I thought the ice cream sucked, but the kids liked it. The coffee was actually quite good (ML, who has been sampling coffee in Yunnan and Beijing pronounced the best so far). I noticed one outlet that's about seven feet off the ground and has a fan plugged into it. Jonathan said, "hey you could bring your lap top here and sit around like you do in Charlottesville...." We’ll see…. The big kids finished the evening with a night time nature walk led by someone from the Garden. Eli and I had our own nature walk which involved walking home (a good 1.5 miles), failing to catch fire flies, and at least 30 minutes of continuous verbage about bobofet and droid soldiers.

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