All's Well that Ends Well
Trip Start Mar 16, 2004
64Trip End Apr 02, 2005
My last week in Taiwan was one of tying loose ends. My co-workers threw me a going-away party at an Irish pub on Saturday. Because it was the day before Easter, the pub had signs everywhere that read, "To commemmorate the ressurection of Jesus Christ, we will be offering a free brownie sundae with the purchase of any entree." Another example of the Chinese not exactly getting Western culture, but giving it a good try
On Monday and Tuesday I took one last little trip up to Keeling where Nathan and Lucas had been home-based. Keelung is a rolling green city in the hills of northernmost Taiwan with a harbor, a happening night market, and a rich temple heritage. There you can find the famed "ghost door," a passageway to the underworld, which is opened during "ghost month," the seventh month of the lunar calendar, to let deceased ancestors roam the earth. Kind of creepy, but definitely very cool to see the door to the underworld.
The rest of the week was spent packing and trying to move my flight back two days because the Taiwanese government refused to give me my tax return until my originally scheduled flight was already in the air. I should have predicted that everything would not go according to Hoyle. But I was able to move my flight without too much difficulty, paperwork, and services charges, and when April 2 rolled around, my last bag was packed, the last picture was taken, and the last person was hugged. I stepped off the island of Taiwan with a feeling of completeness and readiness to come home. My year in Taiwan was an amazing experience, and it was time for the amazing experience to end
Unfortunately, my enthusiasm to jump back into American culture was not shared by the first Americans that I bumped into. The Continental flight attendants were too wrapped up in their own conversations to pay attention to us passengers. I had to walk my own dinner tray down the gangway and throw it out myself because they skipped me during clean-up. Then, at Newark Airport, the lady at Western Union rolled her eyes at me when I needed to exchange "too much" foreign currency. I don't know what she expected. It's an airport. People have been traveling. Don't work at Western Union if you don't like to change foreign currency. Oh well. Their behavior stood in sharp contrast to the primped, poised, and perma-polite sales people of Taiwan.
After thanking the Western Union woman, I counted out my first handfull of greenbacks in over a year. Then I saw my parents waving to me as they waited for me in the Arrivals Terminal. America ain't perfect, I sighed, but it's home. And there's no place like it.