Then and Now 3 - Land Beach
Time: Late 2007, dating my wife.
There were two people I met when I first got to the hostel in the main city. I'll discuss the adventures I had with the fellow foreigner Ken in another update, but for this installment of Then and Now, I am going to focus on the local girl, May. She and I met on my first or second night in the hostel. She seemed a bit stand-offish at first, but I think as we talked more and more, that she realized I was a genuine guy who was looking for good company, and not an easy girl. She was an honest, adventurous and sweet girl, and I think that really helped us to get along so well.
Our first conversation was largely ice breaking. She shared some stories of her adventures abroad with some other foreigners, and showed me several dozen pictures of her time in another country. She had taken a train ride to a forested lake, and spent a good weekend camped out with some other travelers. They swam, they hiked, they watched and rode horses, and she looked very happy in all of her pictures.
I didn't have much to show her of my experiences in her country, because I had only been there for a little less than two months and I wasted a good two weeks of it. Still, I was able to show her several pictures on my camera of sunsets, panoramic views of night city settings, people that I had met, and more. Soon, it started getting late, so she and I went to our respective dorms and slept. We talked almost every night for the next week or two after I came back from exploring the town outside, and soon enough, she had left the hostel to stay with a friend.
The morning after she left, when I woke up, there was a note lying next to me. May thanked me for our time together, and left her email address to get in touch with her while she was at her friend's place a few miles away. Of course I got into contact with her, and we shot several emails back and forth for a few weeks before she moved back home, then invited me to come down and spend some time with her. By that point, I was already dating my wife, so I knew I wouldn't let anything develop between us. Still, it sounded like fun, so I went down to see her and look around as good friends.
I went down by a long bus ride, which traveled a long freeway at the foot of a long mountain range. When I got there, she picked me up and took me to a seafood restaurant where one of her friends was waiting, and we chatted for a good hour. Her friend left when lunch was over, so May and I jumped on her scooter and headed back to her place to get prepared for the day's journey.
When we were ready, she took me to her college campus, and we spent a good hour or two just walking around and talking, and I was interested to see that the campus looked a lot like my own back home. There were towering dorm rooms above lush, grassy areas and many trees. There were also miniature lakes that sat beside artsy-fartsy postmodern art pieces, and some ducks were swimming around in the waters. We went to the college library, and though I wasn't allowed in because I wasn't a student, May showed me her slightly mischievous side by telling me to "act cool" and just go in anyway.
It worked. We went up a few floors to get a good view of the campus below, and to see some of her favorite books. I understood about half of what I read. After a short while, we left her college and went to a local convenience store to get something to eat, then headed to a juice shop that she worked at so I could meet some more of her friends (and we could get discounted drinks). And at last, it was back to her apartment to get ready for the main trip.
A few minutes later, we got back on her scooter and headed out. We rode for about an hour through twisting roads, under a freeway overpass and past some beautiful windmills sitting tall upon some hills, and I took a bunch of pictures of my goofy face getting pushed back by the wind. Although we got lost and had to ask for directions a few times, eventually, we found what we were looking for.
We arrived at a beach away from the beach. At the spot, we both removed our shoes and walked on some watery, but firm, mud that stretched out for miles. There were little crabs in the mud, small enough not to be dangerous, but large enough to see scampering about under the mud. We ran, jumped, and traveled all over this muddy beach-like place for an hour or two, and I took a lot of pictures of our time there. My favorite pictures were of her jumping and pulling her legs in, so it looked like she was flying over the mud. We were there until the sun began to set. I took many pictures of the orange orb setting over the horizon, casting brilliant reflections off of the water upon the mud. It was an incredible sight.
We soon hopped back on her scooter and headed back to her apartment on darkened roads, beautifully lit up by house and street lights. On our return, we bought some fireworks and shot them off behind her house, though for the life of me, I don't remember why. She and I then went off to an outdoor market to go check out some of the delicious foods and toys around, and I'm a bit ashamed to say that I never cheated on my diet as hard as I did that night. It was almost midnight by then, so she brought me back to her place to sleep before I headed home the next morning.
Nothing happened. She didn't make any moves, and I certainly wasn't going to while I was already dating someone else, so she napped on her bed while I took the floor.
At around 4:00 in the morning, she woke me up and took me to the bus station, and I thanked her for the amazing time. At last, the double decker bus arrived, and I was on my way home. It was my first time taking a bus that size, and I enjoyed watching both the TVs inside, and the forested mountains next to the highway whizzing by.
About an hour or two later, I was back in the main city, just outside the main bus/subway/train station. The sun was just beginning to rise over the buildings to the east. In the early morning glow, I felt relaxed with so few people around, like the whole city belonged to me. But even more, I felt refreshed that a new day was dawning, and that it was time to return to my blissful life.
As for today...
I woke up at 7:00.
I played video games.
My wife and son woke up, so I turned off the computer.
I took my son out on a trip past a long bridge heading over a quiet river, past a go-kart track, then alongside the river to a construction site where he could watch heavy machinery move around. Then, we doubled back and headed to the mall, but it was still closed, so we took a trip up into the mountains to another town. On the way, we passed through a huge mountain road that ran next to the freeway, so my son could watch cars going by as we flew on. In the new town, we explored a combination apartment complex and shopping center, then headed back on the mountain road to the mall again. We played crane games and looked around a bit, had some donuts and juice, then we went home.
I ate lunch.
I played video games.
I watched TV.
I played cars with my son.
I played video games.
I cleaned up the floor and table.
Today was a good day. Not as good as things used to be, but I still appreciate this break from the norm.