Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Saddest Popcorn...ever

After about 13 hours of sleep, we're off to walk toward I-lan. This is where I need to change the title of my blog a little bit.

I'll explain: We've decided we'll take some rides sometimes when they're offered, and maybe a train ride if the walking is dangerous. There are thin roads here on the coast, and some cliffside drop-offs that have no return. I know, I know -- "You wussy, Jeff..."

Well, in response to that, I need to live. Afterall, this walk is about meeting people and getting to know the life of others on this island where my parents are from. On my walk across America after graduation, I promise, I won't take rides.

Sooo...we took a ride from some people when we got to a town called Waia, I think. A woman, her sister, and her sister's friend were out having a good time on the beach, and I approached them to ask about directions. We chatted briefly and they decided to offer us a ride to the next big city, I-lan. I talked it over with Steve, and we decided it would be good, as we'd be able to talk to some people. They live in I-lan and know their way around. I would've never been able to get to where I needed to go without them, and for that I am grateful.

We boarded their small truck and went to the next town up, Jiao Si, where they wanted to show us the hot springs, where we could soak our tired feet. We took our shoes and socks off, and I asked Steve to get the camera for some pictures. This is when I began to sing in my head:

I been havin' some hard travellin', I thought you know'd
I been havin' some hard travellin', way down the road...

You see, dear reader, Steve lost our camera -- our camera that we borrowed from a family friend of mine.

A quick recollection of our past hour's travels led us to the point where we left the camera. One of our I-lan friends that we met drove us back to the spot. The camera was gone. We asked the roadside store to see if they knew what might've happened.

Along the road are lots of small shops that serve the truck-drivers that go by. They'll often drop in, buy a beer, eat at the cafeteria, and before they depart, sing some karaoke. To make a long story short, a truck driver ran off with our camera about 2 minutes before we arrived. We drove to the police station to ask them to check the roadside video cameras.

Back to the roadside store, and there's some sort of political party gathered around singing karaoke. I couldn't fully understand what was going on, because mixed in with the Chinese and Taiwanese languages was a local dialect called "minan-yu." I have no idea what the Western translation for that is.

We call the manager out, and he gets angry that he did a good deed and told us about who took the camera, and then we bring the cops to his store. I try explaining that we just wanted to view what was on the camera, and the police had to come to take down witness statements. We were sorry; we really were.

We left the store, left our numbers with the cops, and left the whereabouts of our camera to the local police. Some of the roadside cameras belong to the local government, and the cops have to check with them to get the footage.

I'd hate to burden our friends further, and we really needed to get to I-lan, so we drove off. We picked up the others still waiting at the hot springs. They had bought us snacks for the ride.

We got the unfortunate call from the police, and I sat in the middle seat eating the saddest bag of popcorn I ever did eat. It was delicious.


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