Well, faithful readers, it finally hit me, on this my 5th day: montezuma's revenge (or "good old fashioned traveller's diarrhea"- can you name the movie?). The only thing that worries me about this is that the moment it hit, I was in the middle of my inspired First Walk to a New Corner of Binh Thanh by myself. Only Westerner around of course, because I was walking around during the middle of my morning at the kids' house which is not at all in a tourist's neighborhood. So there I am, feeling immensely satisfied with myself due to walking around by myself and being able to say hello to people and "no thanks" to the offers of motorcycle rides, scoping the local scenery (most notably the charmingly named Cafe Compact Disc) when I feel the rumbles begin. I turned tail and walked at a clipped pace back to the apartment building, but the Universe decided that this was a good time for me to figure out that there is a East building and a West building, both of which have a #22, and I had just made it all the way up to the wrong one. Ye gods. Go, go, go. Finally I make it up to the right apartment, let myself in, get to the bathroom and er, let it all go. Sorry. Only then did I discover, and I am not at all making this up, that the toilet was not flushing. I basically just pooed in a bucket for all it mattered. I jiggled the handle: nothing. Looked in the tank: nothing. What the hell? I am totally trapped. Grandma is home. She wants to have her turn in the bathroom. Oh, shit (no pun and all that. sorry). Hanging onto any last shred of dignity, I pantomime my predicament. She hands me a bucket and barges ahead of me into the bathroom. I go, "no, no!" for fear that she will hate me and throw me out or worse. But she takes the bucket from me and puts it in the bathtub, filling it up. Then she says to me, pointing at the toilet, "put in!". She wants me to float it out? Oh, gross! I imagine that the rest of my day will be spend squeegee-ing the bathroom floor. But I trust her, so she turns away, I lift the lid, and pour the water. And the dang thing flushes. You got me.
On a less disgusting note, my travel woes worsened this morning when I discovered that my deal with Ong Tu had fallen through due to his desire to sleep in. Stuck without a pre-arranged motorbike ride, I hit the road walkin' and tentatively look at all the guys sitting on their motorbikes. None of them offer. Hmm. Usually my problem is the opposite, but this is a curious morning. While I ponder the option of a taxi ($2) or a conversation (awkward) I notice something: the Vietnamese excersize, en masse, in the mornings! All over the place were little old ladies doing Tai Chi, little old men jogging in circles, and young women speed walking in their plastic sandles. Word! It was this cute little insight moment. It made me smile. Then I got a taxi and paid 3 times what I would have paid Ong Tu and didn't have nearly as much fun.
[For the interested, Ong means Mr.]
[and he costs 10,000d or .63 cents. The taxi cost me 30,000. Grrr.]
The kids were great today. I really really like them. Of course, they're kids and have the same shortcomings as any 6 and 8 year olds, but they are totally manageable and the rewards are bountiful. I get so many hugs and giggles. Today was tennis lessons, which are at the country club. Ritzy. But their coach is cool and we got all our homework done before their mom came home and I had an American dinner ready to eat the moment she walked in the door. I felt like a superhero. Or a supernanny. I was rewarded instantly by her announcement that she had just arranged a steady motorbike ride home for me from Ong Hung, for 10,000 each way. YAY!! I am starting to really like riding on motorbikes. I wish I could show this to all of you. Tonight I was filled with such joy and peace. It was strange to feel relaxed doing something I've feared since I started researching current Saigon culture, but tonight dusk had just fallen and the lights were soft and we took all these colorful, odorous, jam packed roads and I just loved observing it all. There was a young guy in jeans texting with his phone as he navigated the roads on his motorbike while carrying two friends seated behind him. Amazing. One little shop was blaring "I want it that way" by the backstreet boys but it sounded like they had a bootleg of a bootleg copy, and that just tickled me, thinking of the lip synch video we saw on google video- hope y'all know to what I am referring.
Ah, Saigon. I am starting to learn just a little tiny corner of you. And I can barely remember how to get where I need to go, I still only have about 10 words, and my tummy is upset. But you know what?
I'm kinda happy. :)