Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Walk To Dinner

I look at the clock. Ah, 5:15pm has hit. Time to head to dinner. If I don't leave now I might miss it. I grab my keys and walk out of my apartment building.

I live in a jungle. Palm trees, flowers, bushes, and vines line the walkways of our neighborhood. But it's not a wild jungle. It's trimmed and kept pristine by the workers who come in blue or tan outfits. They are in never-ending conflict with the green.

I continue on my way, admiring the pond. There are lots of frogs in the pond that rarely are seen but frequently heard. I'm walking down the stairs now, looking out for the giant snails that like to hang out there. Then I get to the spot where I always seem to focus on the weather--it's a nice day today. I remember my first day in China when a wall of humidity and heat smacked me in the face. I've gotten used to the humidity now, and luckily the summer sun's rays are weakening.

This is the time when everyone is done with work, and school, and are coming home. The neighborhood lights up with activity. The basketball court is full again. I turn the corner and look over at the pavilion where the same old Chinese men are intently playing chess, or whatever game it is they're playing.  A mother and her child walk across the street. Gosh, Chinese kids are so cute.

I cross the street to exit out of our neighborhood. Chlorinated water from the pool is spilling out and racing down the street again. The neighborhood guards are standing there like usual, and I think their job would be pretty darn boring. I press the button, push open the gate, and turn right.

This street is lined with shops. The places we stop by most are the Kaiyin market and a few different restaurants. I pass by the Muslim restaurant, and I remember the meal I got there that gave me food poisoning. I don't know if I'll ever go back to that restaurant. Like usual, I see grandparents hand in hand with their backpack-clad grandchild, taking them home from school.

There are always people sitting around tables on this sidewalk, and shop owners standing at the edge of their doorway to enjoy the fresh air. I pass by but they don't seem phased to see a foreigner. There are enough Caucasian people living in Kaiyin that they, for the most part, are accustomed to us.  I watch my step as I continue on; the sidewalk bricks are really uneven and I don't want to trip.

I pass by Gina's, a restaurant that serves American food. We like the ice-cream there. Right next to Gina's is the car-detailing place that has a continual flow of new cars everyday. I cross the street, and dodge traffic as I do so.

Now I'm at the Kaiyin school. We don't teach here, we just come to eat. Students are running around the courtyard as we make our way around the school to the giant cafeteria. The same veggie and meat dishes have been prepared. Grabbing my tray, I make my way towards the huge pot and scoop some rice up for myself. I like the meals here.

And there I sit, with girls from my group, eating another dinner and watching another day pass. My time here is going by quickly; it's going to escape with a blink of an eye. But time isn't going by so fast that I forget to appreciate my surroundings. I love the things that happen around our neighborhood, and I love rice, and I love my daily life here. Watching the quirky things that occur makes me laugh. It's not always the most exciting, but it's little things I'm coming to appreciate.

I love China.

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