So we are completing our transaction while our tree and two other plants for the living room are being bungeed to the back rack of two bikes when a motorbike taxi driver pulls up, points at the sky and lets us know it's going to rain. Katherine has been hiring them for weeks now, and I know it's going to happen sooner or later; I can't spend my entire contract here afraid to ride them. So I give the nod. It's a ten minute ride back, and yes, it's kind of fun. And it does begin to pour, so we wait under an awning for our plants to arrive.
At the shop, we are asked if we need help getting it upstairs (since everyone lives in stacks). Katherine says, "Oh, I think we can handle it." I remind her that we have five flights of stairs and a ladder up to the roof and that the tree is nine feet tall. We need the help. When the bikes and trees arrive, these two poor guys have to heave the tree all the way to the top; they are sweating and sweating...
Katherine says, "Let's not tell Tarn about the tree. Let's just see his reaction next time we go up." But the plant delivery has left a very thick trail of dirt through the door and up the stairs, and both of us are so tired from having them heave it up five stories that we fall asleep. Eventually, I see Tarn through my window, following the trail up the ladder, so I follow him. His reaction is great, he loves it. We are going to decorate it with bamboo hanging candles.
Our deck now has a rainbow park bench, a hammock (more hammocks to come--my roommates are jealous) and a PALM TREE. How can you not want to come and hang out on my roof? You don't even have to enter lesson plans, you can just sit there, swinging on a rooftop in Ho Chi Minh City...
Last week the park bench was delivered by cart:
Today feels like a real Saturday. We're getting settled so we all take on projects- my project is seasoning the wok we bought last week in Chinatown. I am so ready to start cooking in our kitchen...we haven't even had time to think about it. When the wok is ready, I step outside to the market and take my time choosing vegetables: oyster mushrooms, garlic, peppers, onions, beans and fresh tofu cakes...I keep it vegetarian because of Tarn. I'm not sure how to use the sauces here, but figure it will be trial by error. It's not the best stir fry ever, but we have a nice first lunch together.
The market is going to be a highlight of my year. Today I see halibut cheeks, clams, prawns, all kinds of dried fish-- soon I will be buying all of it each Saturday. Imagine, having all of this right outside your castle!! And our neighbor the seamstress fixed a hem on my pants this morning for thirty cents, and has been hired to make more shirts and skirts. How can I walk past all of those material stalls and not buy some and have something made?
It's really something to wake up here on the weekends. Our house has grates near the ceilings, so it seems that the neighborhood is inside every morning. Construction next door (yes, contruction is going on next door wherever I am in this city) begins early, as does the man who coughs for an hour. But the sounds of the market are the best. Buying and selling --- it ends at about 11:00 and we wonder: where do all of the vegetables, fish, fruit and goods go? To their homes? It's another mystery. Today my market find is a woman who makes her own taffy: sesame and molasses. I have found my dad's Christmas present.
Tonight I'm invited to a dinner party at Steve and Sharon's. They are from Florida and Steve is teaching math while Sharon looks for work with a non-profit. Nice couple...met while working for Habitat for Humanity in Atlanta. Steve used to have hair down to his waist and two hoop earings when he worked in Jamaica for the Peace Corps, but now he is clean cut and wears a tie every day. He is the leader of the "Glass Half Full" group. He is sooooo positive, in the best way. In the middle of dinner, we hear a band playing outside so we go out to the deck to take a look. A dragon is dancing down the street because it's Autumn Festival tomorrow. Moon cakes are being sold at every corner in red and yellow stands (the national colors) that will be collapsed tomorrow, just like our fireworks stands. We're wondering what kind of fun our neighborhood might have~
But we will have to leave it briefly, for tomorrow, we look for lamp street.