On Wednesday, I was all set to catch the bus in Okpo for another coffee with Glenda and the E. European contingent when Keegan called to tell me that I needed to wait for Mr. Go to come by to pick up his passport, which for some reason was needed to continue processing our air freight shipment. I was so discouraged because I had been really looking forward to getting out of the apartment, but I also didn't want to stand in the way of our air freight's arrival. So I called Glenda to tell her that I couldn't come to coffee, and she was really sweet. She understood immediately that I was cooped up and disappointed, and she volunteered to bring out lunch and eat with me here and then ride the bus into town with me and go shopping. I was really grateful to her.
For lunch we had some premade items from the supermarket - kimbap, which is like sushi-lite - no raw fish involved; rice wrapped in fried egg (mmmmmm!); and Korean sandwiches, which are made on the analogy of the sushi wrap - bread rolled around egg salad and cheese and then cut into little sushi like discs and held together with saran wrap. To drink, we had "cider," which is actually a Sprite-like soda with a kind of tonick-y taste.
After lunch and the passport handover, we went back into town to get some things at the grocery store. It was so hot walking around in the town that at first I had to just stand zombie-like in the cool yogurt section before finally coming into my own. I am glad that I regained my senses though because looking around the upstairs section of the supermarket was pretty funny. First of all, in the housewares section, they had lots of linens with the word "Booby" embroidered on them. Glenda and I got a good laugh out of that and decided we needed some "Booby" kitchen towels and tablecloths. Then I started looking around at the labels for the sections of the store, and the bedding section had been mislabeled "Badding." Don't know what you'd find in the badding section, but it doesn't sound good. There was also a sign, above things like lamps and clocks and such, that said "Props." If I ever need to put on a play with realistic clocks and lamps, I will know where to go.
On the way home, I ran into a problem with my taxi driver. The vowel in the first syllable of our village's name is difficult for Americans to pronounce, and I've had trouble communicating with another taxi driver as well (although I can't imagine that that one vowel is making the village name totally incomprehensible?). We started driving on a route that I did not think would take us to Doekpo, and pretty soon I was sure we were headed in the wrong direction. So I told the taxi driver and after much back and forth, we finally got it right. He turned around and headed to our apartment building. The fare, of course, was much more than usual, but I prepared to pay the bill since I figured it was my fault for not redirecting him sooner. But he very courteously gave me lots of change, enough so that I only paid what I usually do to ride home. I thought that was remarkably honest of him.
In the evening, we went out for dinner to celebrate the 30th birthday of one of Keegan's former classmates. We ate in a tiny brick-oven pizza restaurant, and the pizza was actually quite good, although it was very expensive. The mushrooms here are to die for, so the mushroom pizza was particularly delectable. There was the usual odd mixture of Koreans, Americans, and also a Greek and an Egyptian. Everyone was very nice. After dinner, we went to a bar called "Hooligan's" where we played electronic darts and pool. When we got there, we were the only people there besides the bartender, and we just got our own drinks out of the refrigerator. Everything was very casual.
Today I went to lunch at Quizno's, a favorite for Westerners, with Jacki and her kids and Glenda, and in the afternoon, our air freight finally arrived! It was brought to the door by a young Korean man who looked all of 16. He brought boxes in while I checked them off, and the whole process didn't take long at all. Keegan got off work a bit early, and he and I spent the afternoon unpacking things. We didn't find anything broken, and we are so happy to have the new computer and lots of books and DVDs to enjoy. Now we'll have to say "If only the surface freight were here!" It's due to arrive on August 22.
To close, here are a few more Korean Oddities:
- There is a drink here called "Pocari Sweat." Tempting, huh? Well, we were tempted and tried some. It's like Gatorade.
- Today at the bus stop, I saw a teenage boy carrying a tote bag emblazoned with adorable pigs holding hands. They are, according to the same tote bag, "Pigi and Pogi: Small and so cute pigs."
- Yesterday on the street with Glenda, I actually squealed in disgust when we came upon a woman selling, among other, perfectly palatable foods, a basin full of live, squirming, slithering, writhing eel-y things. Sorry, for the loud "EWWW!", ma'am. I couldn't control my EW reflex.
- There is a school here called the "Butter School of English."