Hello and Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day to each and every one of you!
I hope that the subject of this email doesn't arouse concern or send anyone into panic. My mistake doesn't endanger anyone, unless you consider being bombarded with a laborious and overdue update dangerous. I realized this week that it would have been a smart idea to send updates in smaller segments and thus relieve the reader. But I believe Cher says it best when she sings, "If I could turn back time, if I could find a way..."
As I type I am partaking of the finest jasmine tea I've ever tasted- a souvenir from my New Years trip to Beijing. My time in Beijing was good for the body, soul and mind. I reunited with my Costa Rican cohort, Kat (she's not actually Costa Rican, but that where our timeless journey began). She was joined by her parents and a college friend, so the five of us stayed together at a hostel. Allow me to briefly delineate our travels: 1. A Kung Fu show featuring Kong Kong. 2. Plenty of dumplings and Peking duck and the occasional hot pot experience. 2. Market adventures. 3. A massage experience that I'll gladly explain to any interested parties (yet I am hesitant to write about it in this forum). 4. The Forbidden City. 5. Tian An Men Square. 6. Temple. 7. Lots and lots of subway 8. The Great Wall (complete with a toboggan ride from the top to the bottom). 9. New friends from around the world at the hostel.
Following our time in China Kat (affectionately known as "La Katita") joined me in South Korea. She spent a week living in my apartment, coming with me to class and dazzling my students with her amazing drawing skills, tasting any food I happened to set in front of her (including writhing octopus), and pretty much just being awesome. Last weekend Luke, Kat and I went to Seoul to tour the DMZ (the military zone between South and North Korea). I learned a lot from our tour guide (named Joy, nonetheless), and we got some photos of us standing in a small room that was technically North Korea. We were debating whether or not we can (with good conscience) say that we've been in North Korea. But we probably will.
Christmas and Thanksgiving flew by, mostly due to the abundance of arts and crafts we were expected to create with our students. One teacher purchased a convention oven so we were able to enjoy virtual feasts for both holidays. I also got to dress up as Santa and deliver presents to the students one night. That was fun, except one of Luke's students kept trying to pull off my beard. I gave out jolly, nervous laughs as I held the beard to my face. It was strange to be away from my family for the holidays, but my parents sent a sweet package with pictures of our Christmas tree and some ornaments, plus a spice cake that my mom baked in a jar, along with a jar of cream cheese icing. That woman is brilliant!
I know there are many more anecdotes and stories to share, but they're not coming to me right now. I hope this update will suffice. I promise to write again soon, with thoughts about leaving here and also lots of details about our graduation skit. As usual I encourage you to check out my online photo albums. As usual I'll remind you that the newer photos are at the bottom. Some pictures from Seoul and North Korea will be added later, but they are being held captive by Kat in SE Asia until the middle of February.
Stay well, everyone! I'll be seeing you sooner than later.