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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

A Postscript

As an afterthought, I am very determined now to see as many of the rest of the islands around Taiwan as I can before I leave. The people on Green Island and Lanyu were friendly, and the Taiwanese I met were kind beyond words. There is something about being on a small island that fosters a spirit of unity, I think, and as one runs into the same people over and over again, a certain bond is created. Being a foreigner adds to it, of course, especially when one is trying to learn Chinese. People take an active interest in you, and you, in turn, in them.

As I was walking along the road on Green Island yesterday, and person after person riding by waved and smiled and called out some form of greeting, I could not help but think back to a day in Cincinnati maybe four years ago, when I was living at home and saving money for my trip to Europe. There is a steep hill near my house, and people driving along there often throw their trash out the window. I walked up and down that hill a lot as a form of exercise and as a form of limited escape when I was at home, and one day I got sick of seeing so much trash littering the side of the road. I grabbed to big plastic bags from home and began collecting aluminum cans in one and trash in another. The bags were more than half full after walking just a few hundred meters, but this was not the worst of it. As I was collecting the trash, a truck drove by. Someone yelled a profanity at me and threw a can at my head. As they drove away, their laughter trailed behind them. I thought about that yesterday and thought about how happy I am to be where I am at, and though it is hard to be so far away from my family, happy to not be in a place where something like that would happen.

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