It’s been two months since I’ve arrived in Taiwan, and now the rainy season has begun. And, when I say “rainy,” I mean rainy. I mean buckets-full of big, fat raindrops almost whistling as they fall like carpet bombs for hours on end. I mean walking outside with an umbrella and still preparing to be soaked from the neck up after five minutes. But, let’s back up a bit… two months?! I’ve already been here over two months? Cheese and rice.
It’s almost impossible to believe but I’ve pinched myself and dumped a bucket of ice water over my head and nothing’s changed so I guess it must be true. Just a hair over sixty days ago, I hopped on a plane and started a new life in a new country. Again. Now that new life is starting not to feel so new, but is approaching something approximating predictability and routine. The ironic thing is that this leg of the journey is almost over. Go figure.
The rainy season in Taiwan lasts from late May to late June and is then followed by typhoon season from late June to late August. However, by the time we start hearing rumbles about cyclones rolling in from the South Pacific, I’ll already have moved on from my current home and job. See, if you remember, my coming to Taiwan at the end of March was not originally part of The Plan, which was, more or less, leave Korea at the first of March, take a long breather in Seattle until the end of April, and then take a long bus-ride to the family home in Oklahoma where I’d camp out until moving to start a new job in Taipei around the end of July.
That’s not exactly how things worked out, though. While I was vacationing in Seattle (and, in some sense, recovering from Korea), I was notified by a recruiter about a rural school program in Yunlin County, Taiwan, that needed an urgent replacement. Apparently, the previous teacher hired for the program had had some unspecified “problems” that necessitated his abrupt (and unannounced) departure—visa issues, I’ll wager. So, I did what any sensible person would do: I bought a plane ticket for three days later, checked out of my Airbnb room a couple of weeks early, and flew across the ocean teach my native tongue to little kids. But you already knew that.
So, in short, it’s been an eventful couple of months. Around my third week here, my next job in New Taipei City was confirmed so I can officially announce that beginning August 1, 2015, I will be a full-time English Teacher at Sanhe Junior High School in New Taipei City. New Taipei City is a far-cry from Douliu City, and while I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed my time in Douliu—and anticipate enjoying the time I have remaining—I can’t say that I’ll miss this part of Taiwan. I may have grown up in the country, but I’ve also grown out of it. I’m grateful for the chance to experience rural life in this island country, but I’m also grateful that’s it’s just for four months. You see, I like to go out on the weekends. I enjoy tasting interesting cuisine; finding quirky, hole-in-the-wall places to hang out; meeting people; dancing until the wee hours of Sunday morning; all things that are a little difficult to do in small, rural farming cities where the only real thing of note that happens after midnight is the occasional boredom-induced trip to 7-11. Actually, in the few weeks that I’ve lived here, I haven’t been in Douliu for a single Saturday night. I just can’t do it.
In any case, let’s just say that my work here is far and away better than the job I had in Korea. There were times when I wondered whether or not I was being fair to the English Camp Which Must Not Be Named but, since arriving to work in Taiwan, I can say with assurance that the former truly was a hell-hole and good riddance. To be fair, my new job isn’t perfect either, but it’s a universe closer to that elusive point on the spectrum than my previous employer was. But that’s ancient history, and it doesn’t do to dwell on the past. It’s funny to think that this little mini-adventure which seems only to have just begun is already winding down. The school year ends in just a little more than four weeks. After that, I’ll teach for a few camps at some rural schools in Yunlin County before packing my bags and heading to Taipei around July 15. Assuming everything goes according to plan, I’ll be back in the States for a week or two around the end of July as well. In the meantime, it’s back to drinking in this experience as for all it’s worth. Until next time, my friends.