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Wednesday, February 22, 2006


One of the things that sticks with me most about my four plus months in China were the awful bus rides. Bus rides that lasted hours more than they were supposed to - even days. Buses that were overcrowded and filled with animals and cigarette smoke, vomiters, spitters, and urinaters. The buses are not quite that bad in Buenos Aires...but
They are not pleasant, not on days like today and yesterday and the 10 or so before that. Temperatures have been in the low 30's every day for at least two weeks now, with heat indexes much higher, in fahrenheit above 100. Now, after having lived in Taipei for two years, you would think this is not a problem. A fair assessment, but wrong. In Taipei there are plenty of places in which to escape. Every convenient store and every coffee shop offers respite - arctic blasts of air con that freeze the sweat on your back. While you might catch cold, you do not have to worry about overheating.
Here, there is no escape, at least not for many people. In my room this morning it was 30 degrees when I woke up at 7:30 (84F). When I got on the bus at just past eight it was 31. When I arrived at my classroom and opened the doors, I was engulfed in a steamroom that reminded me of a sauna I spent time in in Finland. Inside the sauna the heat was so great I had to cover my eyes. Then it was pleasant, though..then I was naked and I just had to run outside where it was -35 or thereabouts to cool off. Four hours in the classroom then, with the hum of the ceiling fan, and just the faintest stirrings of air. Then a twenty minute walk followed by a 20 minute bus ride followed by a ten minute walk followed by an hour of tutoring in another AC less room followed by a ten minute walk followed by a twenty minute bus ride followed by a short walk followed by a twenty-five minute bus ride that was the worst of them all.
The bus rides here are not as bad as those in China, no. They aren't fun, though. Not on these days. They are crowded, especially the bus I take to school and those I was on today. You are packed into them. There is little room to move. When the bus stops there is no air. And if you happen to be sitting in the sun, forget it. Today I had a seat on my final ride, the ride home. There was a man whose sizable beer gut was hanging in my face and whose body odor was devastating. These rides, they don't seem to end. The light seemed to be set up for maximimum waiting time, so that you miss at least every other light. Sweat starts dripping. Faces gleam and glow. People fan themselves, but probably make themselves hotter from even that little activity. The waiting time at the stops...please, just go. Just let some sort of breeze blow in here...just even a bit.
Meanwhile, Yahoo. On my Yahoo weather page, it has predicted a high temperature of 30 every day for the last week, but each time I have checked, the actual temperature that they list is 33 or higher. Until today, when it said the high was 27 and the current temperature was 25, which was three degrees lower than the temperature in my room, and at least below the actual temperature. A high of 30 is again predicted for tomorrow, and then after a rain, a drop of at least ten degrees coming on Thursday. That would be a big bummer for all the people going to see the second of two Rolling Stones shows here this week, but to be honest I don't care. I'm melting and I want it to stop.


Anonymous Mom said...

Sounds like fun, if you enjoy torturing yourself!

5:42 AM  

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