Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Taxi Cab Blues

Day 1: So have you ever waited outside of your house for an HOUR in the freezing cold for a taxi cab to pick you up and in the end having to take a bus for continued lack of cab?

Day 2: So have you ever needed a cab to take you, your husband, and two heavy bags across town but had to again wait in the cold, only to be refused service by one, then literally kicked out of another with exclamations of "Get out! I don't want your money!" and then utterly ignored by three more empty cabs before finally being rescued by the guardian angel of cab drivers?

Well, we have. So next time you enter your nice, warm garage through your nice, warm house to immediately get in your nice, warm car, just think of us!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Driving Miss Becky: Taxi Conversations 101

There are many benefits to riding in taxis:

1) You don't have to risk your life walking or riding a bike. Sidewalks don't exist here. Not because there aren't any built alongside the road but because a car at any point will go ahead and drive on it.

2) It's warm. Since I haven't yet aquired my fur-lined hood or surgeon's mask that the people here wear to keep warm, I resort to taxi heat. In fact, an American friend of ours even hailed a cab for me just to sit in while we were waiting on some other friends.

3) Language practice. I mean, who else would tolerate a crazy foreigner and her limited (and might I add very RANDOM!) vocabulary skills? A cab driver is more or less forced to sit, listen, and even participate in "conversation."

I'd like to give you a little taste of my taxi conversation from this afternoon. (I'd also like to add that this was my first solo trip. No Kevin, no other foreigner...just me and my driver!)

Me: How are you?
Cab driver: Huh?
Me: (in my head) ok...that one didn't work...onto the next question...do you like to eat apples?
Cab driver: some sort of response...I have no clue what he said...
Me: Do you like small dogs?
Cab driver: Laughs at me.
Me: Do you have any children?
Cab driver: Two children. (Finally! An answer I can understand!)
Me: How old are they?
Cab driver: Some numbers I can't understand. I hate learning numbers! I never learned numbers when I studied spanish. Somehow I don't think thay will work out well for me here...
Me: Are you tired?
Cab driver: No.
Me: Are you cold? I am cold. But I have this (point to coat) and this (point to gloves). What are these called?
Cab driver: Repeats word. Repeats word again because I have utterly mispronounced it in my feeble attempt at repetition.
Me: (as we pass a roller coaster...weird...random roller coaster on side of the highway) Do you like this?
Cab driver: Laughs. Says no...I think.

It goes on like this for a while. Actually, not for while since it really doesn't take long to exhaust my vocabulary list.

Back to the books until I can come up with some other random questions!

Monday, January 12, 2009

We're home!

This is the tale of two vagabonds who ventured across the big, blue ocean...

We woke up at 4:30 on Monday morning in order to catch our 7 AM flight. We had managed to pack our entire life into four suitcases, two backpacks, two duffle bags, and a guitar case. It was so hectic lugging all of our bags into the airport that the goodbyes with my parents were actually much easier than expected. Surprisingly, the Austin airport much more crowded than we anticipated it, but thankfully we were able to check our bags (with no extra cost!) and make it through security just in time. In fact, they were already boarding the plane when we showed up, so we didn't have to wait.

We took a four hour flight to San Francisco, and then prepared for the whopper of a flight: 12 hours across the ocean! Kevin had an aisle seat, and my seat was next to a wee infant. Recipe for misery you might think but this little guy was actually very well behaved. It turned out in my favor because I could shove all of my stuff in his foot space. He certainly wasn't using it!

We finally arrived in the capital and had a three hour layover before our flight to our city. Both our luggage and our American friends met us at there. We were greeted with cheers, hugs, and the cold! I knew it was going to be cold but the 80 degree weather in Austin before we left just didn't properly prepare me.

We went to visit our new apartment. After months of being vagabonds, we have a home. I'm overwhelmed at the provision here! Our place is bigger & nicer than our apartment in Louisville for sure. Our friends had arranged some renovations already, including a full-size oven!

The apartment does pose some decorating challenges though. Exhibit A:

What am I even supposed to do with this?!?!

We spent our first night in our new home. The next day, we went to the paint store to arrange for further renovations & painting. I do not make decorating decisions very well, especially under pressure, so this proved to be somewhat of a trial for me. But I did it, the painting is underway even at this moment. The interesting thing about our paint job is that the painters are living at our house while they work. Strange.

This past weekend, we took a three-hour train to the capital city to receive teacher training for our English classes that will begin in mid-February. While we were there, I had Subway for three meals. It's just a difficult reality when the nearest Subway is three hours away! We also did some furniture shopping at Ikea. I suppose I should be fair and say we didn't just do some shopping...we did seven hours of furniture shopping! My dear, sweet, patient husband! The good news is that we have bedroom furniture. The bad news (or maybe more good news if you like furniture shopping...and going back to the capital for more Subway!) is that we'll have to go back to finish up shopping.

For the rest of the week, we're staying at our friends Brad & Amy's apartment while they are on vacation. Speaking of vacation, we are leaving for a much warmer place on Sunday for our own vacation!

So that's what's going on for now! Thanks for reading & following us on this big adventure.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Last post from America!

So I've been informed by one of our blog readers (one of the few I'm sure!) that she was under the impression that we were still in Europe. No wonder she thought that since I'm still posting about Europe! But alas that is not the case. I'm just slow at blogging, that's all. But I suppose it's time to move on from Europe since the next big adventure starts tomorrow.

But first...here are the recent highlights of Peek life: (pictures to come)

* Becky ran a marathon on New Years Day! Hooray! I finished in 4:08 and had a lot of fun. I think I had the largest support crown there of any other runner: 10 people, 2 kids, and 1 barking weenie dog! What a fun day!

* Becky has short hair! Hooray! I donated my hair again. It wasn't quite long enough to do Locks of Love this time so I chose to give it to Pantene Pro-V's Beautiful Lengths campaign. They only require 8 inches instead of 10. It sure is short!

* Kevin is a Wii champion! Hooray! He's playing Mario Galaxy as I type, and he's pretty darn good at it. Always a kid at heart I suppose.

* Our three year wedding anniversay is coming up on Wednesday! Hooray!

But the biggest news of all is that we leave bright & early in the morning. We are leaving for the airport at 5:30 AM and will arrive on Tuesday evening. Don't even ask how many hours of travel that is. I haven't brought myself to do that math!

Well, our next post will be from the other side of the world! Until then, love to you all!