[uh oh- the spell check button is on the fritz. forgive me!]
After getting this journal off to a rip roaring start, I have found myself lagging behind due to the past week or so of being Internetless. So now that I have 1) somewhat wireless internet access in my very own room and 2) a sweet new MacBook on which Kenny has graciously allowed me to type and 3) an actual life to write about, I will rise to the challenge again. Add to that mix the very inspiring notmy.livejournal.com, and I realize there are enourmous amounts of bloggable details passing me by all the time. So here goes.
It's nearing the end of the rainy season, which means that every once in awhile we have a whole day of No Rain. And I don't mean that people are playing Blind Melon en masse. We actually go the entire length of the day without it raining. It's off-putting to say the least, since I was getting used to (but not quite enjoying) being suddenly drenched once a morning and once an evening, every day. So the dry season will suddenly encroach upon us, leaving this soggy city a dust bowl at over 100 degrees F (or so I've been told). Sounds interesting. I daresay I think I'll like it better not being rained on, but who knows? I've never lived in a dry climate. Maybe I'll get nosebleeds like I did when hanging out in Colorado two summers ago. Speaking of nosebleeds, someone who knows someone I know has Dengue Fever--which boasts many gross side effects but none as impressive as bleeding gums and nostrils. There's a fun one to catch. "Hey Jess, why've you got lipstick all over your teeth? Oh."
So I'm adapting to having Ken back in my physical space again. There's a whole journal entry that could be written on the phases of getting used to being apart and then getting used to not being apart again, but I'll save it for another time. It's interesting to watch his intake of the city in relation to my own half a dozen weeks ago. He's done more in his first two days than I did in my first two weeks, natch. A large part of this is because he's (obviously) got a girlfriend who has an established series of favorite places, some friends, and a small but workable knowledge of How To Do Stuff and How To Say Things. I'm not sure which would be better: figuring out stuff on your own, or not getting to? I mean, there's still plenty for him to figure out, and lots for us to figure out together. I held off doing most of the official type stuff until he got here: checking in at the Embassy, joining the blood bank, seeing the big museums and temples. Anyway, Ken was a real trooper today- we walked all over D1, going to exchange money and hitting the big loud markets and eating street food and (I admit) shoe shopping and bathing suit shopping with me and my girlfriends. A trooper, I say. Oh yes: I found a place where you can get a bathing suit custom made just for you: you pick the fabric, the cut, everything, and they make it for you in about 3 days, at about $12.50 a suit. I picked a design which will hopefully minimize all it's supposed to while holding up everything else, in colors that I like and will hopefully flatter the skin tone, blah blah. Lots of hope going into these suits. They better at least fit, since we're hitting the beach on Friday (yes!).
Tomorrow night we're going to the Canadian Thanksgiving dinner, which will be full of friends, amazing amounts of turkey and all that goes with it, Canadian trivia, door prizes, and who knows what else. I'm so excited. That means I have to skip out on tutoring tomorrow afternoon, which makes me feel like a bad tutor, but hey, Thanksgiving only comes twice a year, right?
I saw my first fatal accident the other day. I was on a motorbike going to An Phu to get together with Sonja, and as we zoomed down the highway in the beginning of the day's drizzle, my motorbike driver made a 'tsk' noise and slowed down to get around the crowd of people who had gathered on their mootorbikes in the middle of the road: they were all staring down at something, which I also turned to see, despite a little voice suggesting that I might not actually want to see whatever it was. The scene was... not gory, but very profound. Silent. The circle of motorbikes, all the drivers men, looking down at a man who sat on the pavement, his bike tossed to the side, his forehead bleeding into his eyes. He in turn was looking up at the circle of men, and no one was saying or doing anything. He was waiting for them, or they were waiting for him, I'm not sure. In his arms he held a man whose body was not visibly broken but who was very obviously limp, head back, eyes closed. There was blood underneath them, but not coming from anywhere that I could see. Is he dead? Is he unconscious? No idea. No one is doing anything. I cry a little bit for what may be the first dead body I've ever seen, and hope that my driver will take the accident into consideration when he gets ready to merge into the highway traffic up ahead. My friend Huy told me that in Vietnam, people don't try to resucitate other people. Every expat has a story of a horrible accident they've witnessed, someone freshly dead and the people just bring out the insence and cover the body with a straw mat. If I were choking in a resteraunt, standing up and pointing to my throat, no one would do the Heimlich. Especially not on me, since I'm not Vietnamese. There are no public ambulances, you just have to know the number of a hospital which will send you one of their private ones. And there's no stored blood. It's just something they do. All this lurks in the back of my mind, providing a dark side to all the fun and exploration that I enjoy as I try to make my new life here. Delicious iced tea at a sidewalk cafe, for only 6 cents! But the ice may have been crushed in the gutter, or made from tap water, and you could get sick and die. Fast and affordable methods of public transportation: on a motorbike I can make it across town for 64 cents with a cool breeze on my forehead! But I could also very quickly get into an accident, see above. What else? I can walk to all the fun bars at night, but I *could* get kidnapped and sold into the white slave trade. And so on. I know that all these risks are echoed in my own country where I've been living quite safely (an arguable point) for 25 years. Do you live on the fearful side, the cautious side, or the who cares side? What is responsible? What is snobbery? I try to make good decisions. But it's easy to be ignorant. All I know is: so far, so good. A little diarrhea. A scary ride here and there. But three tons of good things. So there.
Let's talk about a good cheap meal! This is always what my mind comes back to when I think about how good life here can be: last night we had spring rolls for a starter, a beer for Kenny and a pineapple shake for me, we shared a plate of steamed morning glory with garlic (like spinach but much, much better), a bowl of beef pho for him and a big egg pancake with shrimp and bean sprouts for me... all for about $3.50. I love my life.