Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Then and Now 10 - River Walk

Then and Now 10 - River Walk
Time: Mid-2007, at my bud's aunt's place.

My bud and I took a trip one day to the outskirts of the city we were living in, far from our aunt's place. It was a very hot day that day, so we dressed light before we went out. Thankfully, laundry was done for the next few days at least, so we were able to avoid that creepy mosquito pit in the middle of the building our house was in.

I don't think we had any specific plans on what we wanted to see that day, and in fact, I don't remember us discussing any details about anything we would do. We just kind of up and left the house, looking for a good time and things to see. Our walk took us a good mile or so out of the crowded part of town where all the small businesses and people were. We walked past a lot of buildings on the way, and down several streets.

The first interesting thing we saw was the bridge over a trashed up river below us. It was oddly constructed in that the bridge was straight and solid enough, and offered plenty of room on the side for cyclists and pedestrians to cross, but the roads leading to and from it wound around in curves at either end. Traffic was a mess there, with some cars waiting at red lights on the incline and decline at either end of the bridge. My bud and I had no trouble getting past everyone though, because hey, we were pedestrians.

That was the first day I saw another foreigner in my new country. He whizzed by on a motorcycle really quickly next to us, and when my bud and I got up to the red light where he was waiting, I saw clearly that there was another foreigner, and potential friend, sharing the experience of life abroad. He zoomed off at the green light before I could wave a hello, but it was probably for the best, because I didn't want to distract someone on a bike.

My bud and I continued on to the end of the bridge, and into a new part of town. This place was even more glutted with people and businesses than his aunt's neighborhood, and I had a blast just watching people bustling around in every direction, taking peeks now and then into the stores nearby to see what they were selling.

One of the places we went down was a small alleyway between two streets with a lot of residential areas between them. Unlike America, where most people are only outside because they have something to do or somewhere to go, the locals here were outside and just hanging out. Most of them were older folks in conservative dresses and sleeveless shirts just talking with one another, sharing a meal of vegetables or some drinks. My bud and I got a couple of looks as we passed by, and I just smiled in response.

After a good walk around, and seeing a car that heavily resembled the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine, we heard some very loud local music blaring over a nearby speaker, along with people saying things I didn't understand. We followed the sounds to an outdoor puppet show, where dozens of locals were watching some intricately carved and dressed puppets conversing and fighting with one another. The painting in the background of the mini-theater was a beautifully drawn and painted set of mountains under a blue sky with a shining sun high above, adding even more to the already lively show.

I think the story involved two guys fighting over a beautiful girl with flashy puppet swords or something, but then again, maybe it was about two friends sparring with one another to prepare themselves to rescue the girl. I honestly couldn't figure out what they were saying. Because I couldn't understand very well, my bud and I watched for only a couple of minutes before we decided to continue on our way.

We were pretty sunburned by this point, so we decided to start heading back home. After a long walk, we stopped by the river that we crossed earlier to sit down on some benches and catch our breath. Well, to be honest, it was mostly me. I was still pretty out of shape at that point in time, only a few weeks after I went abroad, but my bud was sympathetic to my situation. I think we were there for about ten minutes or so, just watching boats sailing upon the waters ahead of us and the grass waving below us. That was also the day I saw my first local ants, which were surprisingly small in comparison to the ones back in America. I caught one and let it crawl around on my arm for a bit, then let it go.

Before we got up and left, I noticed a boat full of locals passing under the bridge ahead of us, and several of them were staring at us. They were a couple hundred feet away, not enough to make out faces or anything, but when I saw them looking in our direction, I waved hello. To my surprise, several of them waved back. My bud then teasingly chastised me for having a big head and enjoying the attention too much.

When we were back in town, the two of us went to a local tea shop to get something to drink. It was on the second floor of a moderately sized building with people living above it, and the shop offered a full windowed view around the entire city about us. There were quite a few other buildings to look at from there, and a nice view of the park, too.

My bud had his usual passion fruit tea, but I decided to be adventurous and not have my usual fruit tea or black coffee. Against my bud's warnings, I had star fruit tea instead. It was horribly, horribly salty, so much that I couldn't even finish it. But I tried, I guess, and my bud and I had a good laugh about it (after he told me "I told you so," of course). After that, we tiredly took ourselves back to his aunt's place to play some Guitar Hero and PSP in the glow of the fading daylight.

Not my most exciting of days, I know, but this was a real day of firsts for me: my first trip outside of our immediate neighborhood, my first close encounter with another foreigner, my first sight of the local non-mosquito insect population, my first visit to a river, my first puppet show, my first awful tea drink... though this day didn't have the flash and flair of the days to come, it was still another day of choice and uniqueness in the life of an unmarried man.

As for today...

I woke up at 10:00.
My mother-in-law came over to watch my son.
My wife and I went to the gym, then we went home.
I started a load of laundry.
I ate lunch.
My wife showered our son, so I played video games.
Fifteen minutes later, my son came out, so I turned off the computer.
I watched TV.
My wife and son took a nap.
I played video games for about fifteen minutes, then my son woke up, so I turned off the game.
I watched internet movies with him.
I went to work because I had no classes scheduled for today, and I thought that was odd. Unfortunately, I actually did have classes, so I rushed home to get ready.
I went to work.
I taught students.
I came home.
I folded and put away dry clothes.
I hung up a mountain of wet laundry.
I played cars with my son.
I watched internet movies with him.
I slept.

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