Last week it was Taiwan National Day. I admire Taiwan as a beautiful country that I want to visit someday, and it's very special to me because I have some good friends from there.
It's even more special to my good friend Juliana, from São Paulo, who spent one year in there back in 2009/2010. She kindly wrote this guest post to celebrate Taiwan Day.
Read it, it's worth it!
I remember Taiwan in a grey day
Last time I remembered Taiwan it was a grey day. Grey days are
somehow a bit poetic to me; they release a certain feeling of belonging…
belonging to life I mean, in the very spot you are standing right now.
Belonging to being on your own. In grey days, you don’t necessarily feel
you belong to the place you are, or the family you were born in, or the
life you are leading; you rather feel like you belong right here, right
now; like it doesn’t matter how happy or unhappy you are, it’s fine
just to stay where you are and contemplate. Grey days invite you to
contemplate. You see beauty you haven’t seen before; you see the trees
and flowers without the exuberance of the sunny days, and without the
strength and yet fragil-ness of a rainy day, and end up noticing a
different kind of beauty, more reflective, more melancholic. In those
days, you contemplate yourself. You see beauty you hadn’t seen, in a
reflective and melancholic way.
In those days, I remember Taiwan
as a place of reflection and growing. I see days spent in Danshui, the
city by the sea I’d go to when needing to stop, to think, to understand.
I see Taiwan, and specially Danshui, as a place to heal. I see the
street I’d walk in Danshui, that one with the sea on the left side, and a
night market on the right. The colors of the night market, the toys
you’d win if shot the target or threw the ball on the right spot; the
electronic games places; the huge amount of food available for whoever
wanted to try it, going from sweet corn on a stick, to roast crab with
sweet sauce, 30cm machine ice creams, stinky tofu, and even an Irish
I remember my first host Dad, his funny laughter
and funny accent. He liked me very much, and tried to be a real father
to me. He took me to the Yang Ming Shan, a very well-known mountain with
great views; took me to the hot springs, and to go dancing with the old
ladies, every morning before school. I remember walking to the school
where we’d dance, feeling the plants scent and hearing a rooster sing
somewhere near, and how that surprised me, being the São Paulo native I
Remembering Taiwan in a grey day, I’d take the MRT (Mass
Rapid Transportation – the subway) and go back, back to XinBeiTou
station, to my Chinese drum class or the Sunday mass (in Chinese), where
I’d have a friend, a maybe British nun who smiled to me and talked to
me in English. I’d be back to – what’s the name of the station? – my
second host home, the one I shared with Corinna. The one I spent
Christmas in, a Nativity Scene straight from Brasil on the top of my
desk, along with Sonhos de Valsa and a plush Santa, and a Christmas
video on the internet. The one I had a German sister, a really nice and
caring old brother, a smiley old sister, a grumpy little sister (but
poor thing – her mom made her study so much!), a Taiwanese-speaking
grandpa, and a caring, but crazy, mother, who’d tell my brasilian
parents how lazy and messy I was. But that is some sort of love, too.
remember the light rainy days I spent with my third host family, they
all so nice and calm, some of the most patient human beings I’ve ever
met. The short time I spent there was very happy, sharing fruits and
stories with my host parents, eating a different MosBurguer Sandwich for
breakfast every day, getting the latest curfew I had in Taiwan (11pm),
and trying to decide whether or not I should give myself to being in
love, with the short time I had left on the country.
struggling with the language; struggling with shyness, mine and
other’s; laughing with 10 different nationalities, telling my classmates
random stuff about my country, learning how to drink. I remember having
some of the closest and deepest friendships I’ve ever had, and how nice
it was to walk from Taipei Main Station to Taipei 101 to get ice cream I
won on a bet; to light our fire lamps and watch them rising, taking our
deepest wishes to one another and to ourselves to the skies; going to
Xindian to spend a day watching movies. I remember the temples, the
incense smell, the high-pitched voices, the stares on public places.
a grey day, I’d remember all Taiwan and remember how it healed me, and
how it made me grow. I realize how awesome an opportunity I was given,
and how blessed I was to be there, with those people, seeing those
views. I regret bending to Time wishes and losing contact with people,
losing a lot of contact with that part of the world that is a huge part
of my world. I feel anxious and missing days that haven’t come yet, days
where I’ll go back, and meet again those people and those places.
most of all, I feel some sort of warmth; I have that feeling of very
calm satisfaction, of realizing that, all in all, the journey so far has
been good, and that is all due moments, fleeting but unique moments,
where you’ve been truly happy. The kind of feeling you only have when
your eyes are looking deeper. When you are lost in contemplation. When
you are having a grey day.