About Me

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Yilan, Taiwan
I'm a Social Studies teacher and single mom from Colorado and have lived here for 9 years. Taiwan is an excellent base for us explore Asia, while living in relative (gun free) safety, while benefiting from a cheap and efficient national health care system. The people are amazing too. I have friendships that are 14 years old and I'm always making new ones.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Home Run! Moving House in a Typhoon

My kid and I's dream of a mountain manor where we can have chickens and a goat, providentially came true! Its a funny story how we found this place. I was late paying my water bill, so I went to the water department in Yuanshan (near my work, it was my lunch break) to pay it. They insisted I could pay at 7-11, but I was doubtful, only because whenever I am late with my Chunghua Telecom bills (phone, internet, cable), 7-11 doesn't work I need to pay at their offices.

In another example of Taiwanese kindness, the one lady insisted on driving me down the road to 7-11. I was perfectly capable of going there myself, but whatever, I was open, and then we started to talk. She grew up here, she went to the same little mountain school as my kid and her childhood classmate, still one of her friends, had this little house available to rent. Now this was back in February right after CNY and it was only abundant Grace that kept this house from getting snatched up until our lease ended in July.


 We moved out of our Yilan City apartment the end of July during this crazy weekend of an approaching typhoon and my friends visiting from Tainan. We decided to have the movers move the big furniture on Friday instead of Sunday because of the typhoon. It took them 2 trips in their blue truck, which cost me 4000 NT (132 USD). We sat out the storm in our Yilan City Apartment with our guests.

 My friend Chris Knight, a walker (he once walked the entire Ganges River), traveler, disaster manager, and animal lover was now walking around Taiwan with 2 boys, one an old friend of ours who is 12 (who also walked the Camino de Santiago with his mom last year) and his Taipei friend who is 14. They had been camping, sleeping at police stations, walking days, raising money for homeless dogs. Admire and marvel at their incredible journey at Footprints of Formosa.

One sweet dog Jiji had adopted Chris and was traveling with them (Z and I hope to adopt her the end of August). All four of them crashed with us for two nights during the typhoon, in the middle of my moving house, with most of my towels, bedding, and no refrigerator, but they were the easiest of guests. We ate at Balagov's, swam at the cold springs in Yuanshan, waiting for typhoon Nesat to pass. My kid thoroughly enjoyed having cool kids her age to play with and I enjoyed having some adult conversation!

Checking out political art while waiting for Nesat to strike
Yuanshan Coldsprings

Nesat hit fast and hard, all the windows flooded except the kitchen (balcony). We survived, our guests walked the next day from my house to Taipei 101 (nuts!) as we were hustling to clean my old place, which was a mess from the typhoon waters, trying to get our security deposit back (which we did). Then I was engrossed unpacking into our new, mountain abode.

Nesat destroyed the banana field in front of the house

Ah the house, its spanking new, no one has lived in it. Its in the middle of a tea farm, a tea field beside us, and tea behind us on the mt in the distance, my other neighbor has a ginger farm. The banana field (owned by my landlord) in front of us got completely destroyed from the typhoon, half of their pomelos that border the tea field and our house were on the ground, but the jackfruit survived unscathed. The landlady's mother has a vegetable garden beside us and if we don't pick the sweet potato leaves, okra, gourds, en choy ourselves, she molests us with bags of the stuff. We have been having en choy or potato leaf omelettes for breakfast almost daily.

Digging holes for flowers! "Mom I'm gonna dig a hole all the way to America!" When I was a kid we tried to dig holes to China😅.
The benefit of our new abode besides the quiet, the views, fresh air and proximity to my work and my kid's school, is that water is free. It just comes from the mountain. Another benefit is this place is made for bike riding. The roads here are small lanes, that circle in and out of the orchard farms, perfect for a late afternoon leisure ride when the day's heat subsides. The last benefit is we are gardening. I'm not sure how long we will stay here or in Taiwan, but for sure this is our last and final homestead. We have planted yellow and orange hibiscus, lotus, some flowering bushes I don't know they names of, garden herbs, dragon eye tree, lychee tree, and a cherry tree (which the monkeys prefer over the riper pomelos). I imagine how handsome it will be in 5 years, 10 years. It's peachy keen if we aren't here to enjoy it then, as I see it already in my mind's eye. For now we enjoy caring for them. The ground is unforgiving rocky, I broke one of the old lady's tools, digging out the stones and it was back breaking work digging those holes. The road to our home has this natural compost of fallen tree leaves on the road that have never been swept or cleaned, so we scraped 3 inches of the finest, blackest jungle humus and added it to our plants. So far so good.

 I tell people I live in Yuanshan because thats basically were we are, except because I live on the other side of a river I technically live in Jiaoxi! My address on Google map sends everyone down the road and lost, its mid August and I still haven't received any mail. I'm still waiting for my landlady to fix my mailbox that was blown away during Nesat, but still no green mailman on his motorcycle around these parts looking for us.

Adjusting wasn't hard, even with Chunghua taking 20 days to install cable and internet (we played lots of chess). The exception is getting used to the critters,  but so far no snakes. There are macaques behind our house in the mornings and evenings, they stole one of  my kid's shoes and sometimes are on the roof right after dawn. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw a side-widing centipede in my living room, which I wasn't able to catch and then 2 more in the shower. I located which farmer's supply store sell DE (Diatomaceous Earth) and sprinkled it around the outside perimeter and inside where I think critters would hide. It apparently keeps snakes away from the chickens, which is good to know, as we plan on getting chickens and a dog the end of the month.

Yet I was in a dilemma, a traveler's dilemma. I had the money, I found the cheap flights and guesthouse, we could of gone to Jeju Island- today in fact. (We could go there still). Twice I was this close to finalizing the payments of the air tickets and then I closed the window.  I think its a combination of being tired of blowing what little I have in the bank and starting from zero the next month (that was us after last month's Singapore trip) and wanting to take it easy. There are activities to enjoy here, we have yet to surf this year which is a sorry state since its now August (but the sun is so abhorrently strong), we could go diving here too. Mostly I didn't buy those tickets to Jeju because our home is so dang relaxing. I have the month off and our home is a sanctuary, and with my easy schedule, I cherish everyday being like a Saturday. I don't desire to be anywhere than where I am. Contentedness is highly underrated.

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