Thursday, August 21, 2008

epic week.

oh man, the excitement of this week will never end. we've spent most of the week at school, trying to get our classrooms ready for the open house this weekend. that has been a bit insane. i've spent half the week just staring at my room wondering what on earth i should possibly be doing. unfortunately, the more i do, the more i realize i have to do and tomorrow will be a bit frantic. it is the last day before open house and our toys are bulletin boards are being delivered. it's going to be a long day.

after school, when jet lag tells me i should be sleeping, we have been going out every night, eating here and seeing these people and buying tickets to the olympics. the first night was dinner with janice and josh at this giant restaurant on the 5th floor of what is basically a four-story home depot. the restaurant takes up the entire floor and seats 2000+ people. it apparently is booked every night, although i'm not exactly sure why. the food was ok, but it was fun to try everything and attempt to use chopsticks while exhausted. my skills fluctuate with the amount of sleep i need. i did discover that mushrooms come in more varieties than the little brown ones you get at home and i actually like some kinds.

then, on monday, we get to work and they tell us that we are going for foot massages at 2:30. this is a culture i can get used to. (it more than made up for the chicken gizzards they served us at lunch.) they took all of the girls from work for 90 minute foot massages and then our bus driver took us to dinner. massages are definitely something i am going to have to look into on a regular basis. our foot massages also included an arm/hand rub, a foot soak, a leg rub and a little shoulder massge. after that was dinner with the girls, which was way better than our first dinner. pretty much everything is served family style here. everyone has a little plate and they bring out food as it is cooked and put it on a lazy susan in the middle. then you can try a little of everything and get more of the things you really liked. i actually really like it. it seems like a better way to enjoy a restaurant b/c you get to try lots of things instead of just one. and if you don't like one, you're not stuck with it.

tuesday is fighting with wednesday for best day of the week. i think probably wednesday will win. i think my favorite part of tuesday, though, was the cab ride home from work. it took forever b/c of the traffic and the olympics. we live just down the street from shanghai stadium, which is where they are playing some of the semifinals, so our street was all blocked off and we had to go a long way around. which was ok, b/c we had an awesome cab driver. there was a big screen showing a commercial for the soccer game and we were trying to figure out what time it started, and our driver, Li, spoke just enough english to understand, so he chimes in with "seven" in english and chinese and we all get excited and then kaitlin starts talking to him with the little chinese that she knows. we only had a few words in common, but it was fun to talk with him. he asked where we were from and kaitlin starts in with, "houston, yao ming. houston," while making basketball motions with her hands. we also taught him to say "kat-e-lin is aw-some." which is way more amusing when you know that he was probably in his 60's and definitely looked it.

when we finally got home we cleaned up real quick, donned our red, white and blue and headed down toward the stadium to see if we could get tickets for the game that night. on our way, we stopped for dumplings at this little hole in the wall (literally) on our street. thank goodness for kaitlin and her limited chinese, but even that doesn't help us read the menu. after some pointing and a bit of procedural confusion, we ended up with a small dinner of dumplings for 3 for under $2.

getting tickets turned out to be much less of a problem than we thought it would be. as soon as it was known that we were looking for tickets, we were surrounded by a mob of people waving tickets in our faces and shouting prices. we ended up buying 3 out of 4 legit-looking tickets for like $17 from a very desperate-looking belgian. apparently he had gotten tickets for his buddies only to discover that they had also gotten tickets through someone else. so, he sat with us, or rather, we sat with him and it was fun to chat during the game. the game itself was pretty good - nigeria vs. belgium, i'll let you guess who won. and i'm pumped that i actually got to go to the olympics! it still doesn't seem real.

after the game, we were waiting to get out of the stands and some random chinese guys stopped by us to take a picture. i kept moving out of their way, only to quickly discover that they had stopped to take a picture with us and i was foiling their photo-op. it was so bizarre, but fun to feel like a celebrity. we took pictures with their camera and our camera and they just loved it. on the way out, a bunch of japanese guys stopped kaitlin and took pictures with her, thinking she was a belgian fan. only after they were done did she pull out her american flag. the chinese also liked taking pictures of the nigerian fans. at first we thought the players were coming out, based on the mob of cameras around them, but then we realized it was just the fans.

wednesday i already wrote about mostly. wednesday night is ladies night at zapata's, which is a mexican bar not far from us. it's a lot of foreigners and pretty expensive, but ladies night means free margaritas and 80's music, so we had a good time. it would have been better had i not been dead from jet lag.

today was school and then carrefoure. this particular carrefoure is something like a 4-story wal-mart, only not as good as that would be. they have a lot of the same kinds of things but somehow the selection is not as good. one floor is house stuff, one is a grocery store, one is full of little shops, kind of like a mall, and all are full of people. it was so busy and so overwhelming. i think i managed to find half of the things on my list. there were so many that i just didn't even bother to try looking for. like groceries. we got a few basic things and some random things, but mostly, by that point, we were so overwhelmed by all of the things and the people, we just gave up. i did manage to find chocolate-chip and red bean cookies (just ok) and strawberry popcorn (yet to be tried).

when we got home, kaitlin tried to call for a new jug of water for our apartment and ran into a bit of a language barrier. so she runs down the hall to find a neighbor that can speak chinese and brings back maria, who happens to speak english as well. i'm still not sure how she found her, but maria turned out to be incredibly sweet. she spent 3 years in the US, going to school in Illinois and living in NYC. she came back here just before 9/11 and got breast cancer a few years ago. so she's been living at home and trying to get well for the last 4 years. she was so sweet, though. she asked us what we were eating and made sure we had pots and pans and that we are drinking the right kind of water. only instead of just asking, she would just turn around and start opening cupboards to make sure that we had the things we need. so, i think we've found a surrogate mother here. she even offered to take us to the stand where she buys vegetables and show us how to cook. so that will be fun. i'm looking forward to getting to know her better. and it's nice to know there is someone so close to help us out with things that we really can't do on our own.

ok, i know that was epic, but it think i've covered the week. probably the weekend will be just as epic, so stay tuned!

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