Well, I’ve been here for a month now, and am halfway through my internship. I can’t say that the time has flown by or crawled past. With Dr. Mohamed gone, work has slowed down considerably while we contact him via email and wait for confirmation of our schedule. With more people around, time off work seems to go a bit faster.
On Saturday, I went out with Sanju, Hank, and a good sized group of our coworkers. We started by going to get mango ice to cool down from the already baking morning. It also gave everyone a chance to gather and discuss the plans. After that, we went to a fruit market. Besides the thousands of mangos, there were pineapples, guava, dragonfruit, and lots of fruit I had never seen, some of which didn’t even have an English name. While a few of the others went to get the cars, we huddled under the umbrella of a very good duck egg salesman. He gave Sanju and I samples of his product. The first one had somehow been seasoned and salted before cooking. It was a little weird but not too bad. The second one was a bit unwelcome. Because of the language barrier, I couldn’t confirm, but it smelled and tasted like it had been fermented for quite some time. He saw our distress eating the second one, and after teasing us a bit to the amusement of the nearby locals, he gave us some large slices of mango to get rid of the flavor.
Feeling full from the large amounts of mango ice and samples from the market, I was surprised when we went to lunch. Still, I still had enough room to eat a bit at a Taiwanese barbecue restaurant. After eating, I thought we would head back to the AVRDC, but instead, we ended up at a sweet potato museum. Very little of the museum had English, but they had us try samples of different sweet potato products on the way out. By now I was uncomfortably full, and the afternoon rain was starting. We started to head back, stopping for everyone to buy some more food and tea.
Yesterday I met with Aileen, Tim and his family, and two other families who were their friends. We drove to Danei Totoro Station, a small section of town that had large murals of cartoons, children’s stories, and lots of Totoro, a famous Japanese character (If you haven’t seen “My Friend Totoro” I highly recommend it).
When we stopped for some mango ice (I’m starting to sense a theme here), we ran into the mayor. We took some pictures, and he was polite, but finished quickly and left. Tim’s daughters and the girls from the other families, six in all, read me jokes they had been practicing in English and did a dance to K-pop. I played a song on my phone and taught them a few swing dancing moves. Cramming everyone into a few cars, we drove to the Chimei Museum. It had several wings, including several for fine arts, one for animals around the world, and one for instruments. In the animal exhibit, I pointed out the different animals that lived back home. We were in the museum for several hours, and I didn’t notice how late it was getting until we started leaving and I noticed we would get stuck in the afternoon rain. By the time we got to the cars, it was coming down heavily, and we were soaked.
Now I’m sitting back at my desk in the office and its business as usual. There was a seminar this morning, and two more this week for people interviewing for a position with WorldVeg. The seminars are on grafting, with is something I’ve always found really interesting. Grafting is the process of carefully attaching the top of one plant to the base of another and can combine the traits of the two if done carefully. I’m looking forward to hearing more about it as the week goes on.