First it’s clear that all white people here look alike here. Our six-foot tall waspy bald neighbor took his half Malaysian daughters to buy bikes the other day. When they asked how much the bikes cost the bikeguy said “the same as last time.” Chuck had no clue what he was talking about until the bike man said “you know when you were here with your twins….”
The real excitement of the weekend was biblical flood/fire combo that resulted from the delights of Chinese construction. To repeat the cliché; they export the good stuff…
Super dad was frying up French fries when I heard a huge unidentifiable noise and then Manuel screaming. He held the water main valve shut while I called someone who spoke Chinese who would then call the maintenance people and hopefully send someone over pronto. While holding the valve shut and thus allowing the kitchen to fill with only 1.5 inches of water Manuel forgot about the French fries which caused an oil fire and a nice flaming oil gliding across the wet floor. After the fire I went to get the Dutch guy next door who located the water main under a humongous concrete brick but was unable to move it, even with my brawny assistance. So I took over the water main holding job, and my studly husband lifted the brick while the Dutch dude used his vast cultural experience with stopping floods and turned the water off. And low and behold in the dirt hole sat a frog, which combined with the screaming, and running out of the house attracted the whole neighborhood—well everyone but the fix-it guys. Finally a rather small old guy pulled up on a little motorcycle with a single wrench. This gave me no confidence at all; I wanted a fire truck, a utility truck and a shop-vac…. A few other guys eventually joined him, with a bottle of oil and a valve and the whole thing was spic and span an hour later. The hair on Manuel’s arm was the only real casualty. We tried to order brick oven pizza delivery but no dice… After it was all over our neighbors all said “oh yea that happens to all the houses, they’ve had to replace a bunch of floors.” The theory is that the valves are too weak for the water pressure, which given that the shower is but a trickle seems odd, but whatever…. I watched three episodes of Friday Night Lights to recover.
The seven western kids in the compound meanwhile befriended two Chinese girls who live up the hill on a farm. They first discovered their dogs and started their own version of PETA. The western kids are convinced that the dogs are abused and don’t have long to live and asked us to buy raw meat for them in the market. “those poor dogs eat rice….” Somehow they got over cross cultural differences about dogs and brought the girls to play on their landslide; a big hill which they climb up and slide down so that they can get covered in nasty dirt. When the temperature exceeded 100 degrease they brought the kids into the house and Manuel smartly hightailed it out of here on a vespa. I found the kids talking through Google translator. It was quite brilliant actually. Rebecca typed a question in English and hit translate and then the other little girl typed an answer in Chinese and hit translate.
We’re all still recovering from last night’s biblical events and have noted that we’ve encountered so far seven of the ten Passover plagues; including hail, boils, locusts, pestilence, frogs, blood, and darkness. To celebrate avoiding the other three we went out to dinner in town and walked home in the sultry sticky evening. And may I say that after an evening in town and a 40 minute walk with three kids, there is nothing so fabulous as air conditioning, the smell of freshly baked cheese bread, and a nice toilet!