May 5th, 2008


Real Italy and Real Good Food (Not Shown)

About five weeks ago, I broke the camera (or it broke itself). Don thinks he can fix it, but to me that sounds really hard. Anyway, here are a few pictures I took before it broke.

Last February, I flew to Rome for my third time. I went back and forth on whether to go into fancy, touristy Rome, but fortunately when we arrived, the weather was cold and wet. Yippee! So instead of the same old pizza, and the same old American tourists, I found myself eating (delicious) beans and cabbage and cheese at a very authentic place in Lazio. The person who recommended it said we needed a reservation, and when we called to make it, they told us they could accommodate us after about two hours.

It was lucky we had a reservation.

I didn't take any pictures of the food, because I was too busy stuffing my face with it. I thought I'd never had anything so delicious.

A few days ago I went to Beijing for my first time (I'd been to Shanghai twice) and six of us ordered about 15 dishes at a multi-story, after hours, family restaurant type place. It took about seven staff to interpret our needs (the captain and I were recklessly adventurous about foods and alcohols, but the rest of our party was made up of a vegetarian and three Muslims) but when the food finally arrived, it was spectacular. Almost all of it was vegetarian, and each dish was so unique and perfectly seasoned.

Taking pictures is such a motivator for me to do stuff. I might have gone to Forbidden City or the Great Wall if I'd had a camera, but I didn't, so I just went shopping at the so-called "Silk Market." I hated it, a little. I didn't buy much (and didn't intend to), but I would have bought more if it hadn't entailed that stupid haggling game. I always wonder if those salespeople go home depressed after pretending to cry all day.

Me: "I'll give you two dollars for this."
Seller: "That is eight hundred dollars, but for you I'll give you a very good price. Four hundred dollars."
Me: "I'll give you two!"
Seller: "Are you crazy? This is very good quality."
Me: "It's plastic!"
Seller: "Okay, three hundred fifty."
Me: "It's a magnet!"
Seller: "Three hundred fifty!"
Me: "Never mind! I don't want it anymore!" (walking away)
Seller: "Wait! Two dollars okay!"

...and I know the thing cost less than a penny to make, because it's made in China, and I'm buying it in China. Why not save the heartache and charge two dollars for it, so we don't have to fight? I did have fun just talking with a lot of the sellers, since I really didn't want anything and was just there for the sake of leaving the hotel. Most of the sellers were college-aged girls who spoke great English, and once they realized I didn't want to buy anything, dropped the act and clowned around with me. Though it was kind of weird that so many girls asked me if they could have the buttons and charms from my backpack. All those things have sentimental value, and are largely things nobody would want. So I joked back, "No, this button was a wedding gift. Oh, this strap is very expensive and very rare."

In a few weeks I'll get a 14 weeks' salary bonus from Emirates. I picked out my new computer, and Don is helping me pick out a new camera. I'm looking forward to posting pictures again.