Published: August 26th 2006August 26th 2006
Rock formation off the coast of Green Island.
There are some people in life, who just seem to be prepared - you know, for any and every situation…they are never at a loss for words, and they certainly always have something fitting to say when an awkward silence ensues.
This is exactly the type of person I WISH I could be… a revelation that came to me the other night when tutoring my 14 year old private, Terry.
Terry is a really smart kid, who is extremely shy - it’s taken months for me to get him to really chat with me. Up until now, the best I could do was get him to read an English text…and the other half of the lesson was me acting like a circus animal, desperately trying to get a rise outta him.
The other week, I had brought an amazing conversation book that I use with an adult couple that I tutor on Mondays. I figured that since Terry is very smart (it’s just his conversation that is lacking), he could handle the material…and the questions in each unit are very applicable to real life…perfect!
So, we sit down to do our lesson - I open
the book to a unit about “Television” (…what kid doesn’t like TV?!) First I get him to look over the vocabulary silently (there’s a Chinese translation next to each English word) and then I ask him to read them out loud, so I can correct his pronunciation.
Terry starts to read, and as this is happening, I start to drift off… “cable”…(what will I eat for dinner tonight?) … “sitcom”…(I wonder where I put that white shirt I wanted to wear later?) … “soap opera”… (They’re not kidding - I really DO have finger-toes!)… “drama”…
suddenly, I snap back to reality as Terry is having a really hard time with a word.
Without looking at what he’s trying to read, I coach him along “don’t worry, some of these terms are difficult…just sound out the letters and do the best you can”. Blah,blah,blah...
Finally, I look over to where his finger is, and realize he knows very well how to say “ dirty sex movie”…but just didn’t want to.
I had nothing.
Nothing but a beat red face, that is. Moral of the story: preview all material.
In terms of travel, last
month I had a few days off and decided to venture out to Green Island - off the East coast of Taiwan, this island has formed from volcanic rock, and lies right along the tropic of cancer. Apparently it is at the same longitude (or was that latitude?) as Hawaii.
Anyway, I went with a few friends, Cindy and Reid, and had an amazing time. The sheer beauty of the island is outstanding - as you can see in the pictures, the ocean was so clear you could see straight down into the water below…the rock formations and caves were endless and very daunting. It was a place where we definitely felt really small and powerless compared to nature. This, by the way, is the island where you can dive with the hammerheads in the winter...something I still hope to do.
Green Island is pretty small - we rented scooters, and successfully drove around the entire thing in about 35 minutes. Of the few sights to see (aside from the natural landscape, of course) were two jails, a Buddhist shrine and one of the world’s three natural salt-water hot springs.
Where to begin?!
Back in the 1950’s,
Green Island was a symbol of fear and despair as at this time the country was still under martial law. At this time, the government had started a campaign to get rid of all the political activists in the country - the period in which this occurred was named Taiwan’s “White Terror”.
One of the prisons (now converted into a Human Rights Memorial) was used to house such political prisoners, where many, if not most of them, were killed.
It was a somber place to be - I could never imagine having to endure such torture in an institution which overlooks the beautiful blue ocean. Nowadays the memorial site serves as a reminder to the Taiwanese of the governments continuing efforts towards varying kinds of equality such as women’s and aboriginal rights. Ironically, the English name for this now abandoned prison is “Oasis Villa”.
The second of the two jails was still in use, and is said to house Taiwan’s most dangerous criminals - too dangerous to keep contained on the mainland.
Upon reaching this place, we thought we could take a little tour (to the guard’s surprise). He let us walk to the end of the driveway and
back - woo hoo. It was cool to drive by, I guess.
Another great thing we did on this trip was snorkeling. Unfortunately we are not experienced enough (yet) to dive around these waters (the current is always really strong), but regardless…the snorkeling was incredible. I’ve never seen such immense coral and such an abundance of tropical fish. I felt like I was in am aquarium. All in all, I was really pleasantly surprised that Taiwan boasts this much natural beauty…many friends of mine likened the marine life here to that found in Thailand. Guess in a few months I’ll find out!
I am really excited for my month-long trip to Thailand with Jake - he arrives here in the beginning of October, and we st off on October 27th. We haven’t really decided what we want to do there yet, but have agreed that we’re just going to play it by ear. Funny…the only thing he insists on is not carrying any of my shopping in his backpack - but I feel like this might change…once he sees me struggle to keep up, of course ; ) Hopefully he'll have missed me so much that he'll do
Cindy & Reid
ANYTHING I ask....mwahahaha.
Well...that’s it for now - I’ll be staying in town on weekend for the next few as I really want to save some extra money for my trip. I will be going to Taipei for my birthday with a few friends - I haven’t been yet, so it should be interesting.
Hope everyone is well.
Thanks to all who write. I miss you.
There are more photos below