Friday, August 12, 2011

First few days!

Sunday July 24
I left Colorado this afternoon with my house packed into my new garage and headed for Laguna Beach, CA. Bridget and the girls have been in Spain with Marta’s family for a week now.  They are seeing so much of the country and the Sarmiento way of life.

I get to Jenn’s apartment around 4:30.  She is sailing so I walk to the beach for a well deserved frolic in the waves.  We head out that night for drinks with Scott Olivet at the Montage.  It is great to see Scott and catch up after, what, 35 years?

Jenn and I stop off at La Sirena Grille for killer fish tacos and a good night’s sleep.

Monday July 25
Jenn has signed us up for a sea kayak tour of the region.   We take off from a beach in a small cove she had taken Bridget, the girls, and me too during our visit in October.  It is familiar and good to see again.  We paddle around enjoying the calm water, the Laguna sights, and a large kelp forest. 

Later we have sea food and beers at the Beach House and then hook up with Jenn’s bud Rachel for beers at the “Dirty Bird” to the sounds of local band, “The originalites” and their cover of Mirror in the Bathroom.

Tuesday July 26
Jenn friend Marc Abdou quit his job at Red and now lives on his 27-foot Catalina at the Dana Point Harbor.  We show up at noon with fish tacos and a 12 pack of Pacifico and he takes us out on a sail for a few hours.  Marc has plans to sail from Laguna to Costa Rico this Fall.  He plans to leave just ahead of a large regatta heading to Cabo so he can blend in with a fleet of boats for safe border crossing. 

We are fortunate enough to see dozens of dolphins and a Mako Shark – very cool.  Marc is a great spirit, loves sailing, and is a pleasure to be around.  Jenn has recently learned to sail and has been learning quite a bit from him.  We head back to sure and Marc loans us a couple of  Paddle boards – Stand up paddling is very popular around here.  We end the night with a run to Walmart for some needed China supplies .

Thursday July 28
Packed up and ready to go Jenn drops me off at LAX after a great Laguna visit.  Eastern China airlines.  A long flight, 14 HOURS!  They have an open bar in back and plenty of hot meals…but 14 hours,!

Friday July 29
Hello Shanghai!  I arrive right on time and am met by a driver from SAS.  Soon to appear is Helene Reiter, the lovely HR director whom I’ve been in so much contact with up until this point.  It is so nice to meet her and feel welcome.  Ed Kidd, the principal soon follows with another hardy welcome.  We wait for another new arrival, Evan  Cooper, flying in from Bengla Desh.  Evan could not come with his family because he had to fly with the dog.  His wife, two kids, and his mother are meeting him in Shanghai.

It takes a while to get to the bus and another hour drive to my apartment.  I am exhausted but thrilled to be at my new home and see Bridget and the girls after a few weeks!

Saturday July 30
Bridget and I wake up early and head out for a walk in Zhudi Town – the small village in outer Shanghai.  Now I know there is a Starbucks somewhere, but this place sure does not look like America.  Chinese shops and people out on the street everywhere.  Tons of little noodle joints and what not.  We find a breakfast place, “Resurrection” which is somewhat Americanized – there are ham and eggs on the menu – but no one speaks English and we struggle to order.  Bridget’s D-caf cappuccino comes as a d-caf coffee and another mug of cappuccino.  

We run into Alan Knoblach there who is the Head of School who interviewed and hired us in San Francisco in February.  Great to see him and we have a long chat.  We drop by “Pines” an oasis of a somewhat western grocery store, pick up a few items and head through the village back home.  We get the girls and head to the school for a tour.  Ed meets us with Michael Sheehan, the asst principal.  Both these guys are great energy, very happy to have us and take us on a very dusty tour of the facility which is just about entirely under construction.  We return to our bad and go for a dip in the pool which is visible from our living room.

We manage to cook some kind of Stir fry with the little groceries we have.

Sunday August  31
The school has provided us with the bare minimum at our Apartment, Westwood Green.  We have three beds and four bedrooms.  Each bed has one sheet and a small blanket which is really a large towel.  We each have a dresser.  There is a desk, a couch and easy chair, coffee table, end table, lamp, and dinning room table with chairs.  In the kitchen there are four bowls, plates, glasses, mugs, and silver ware.   That said, we need some stuff! 

We take a shuttle bus to Carrefore, (think French Walmart in China.)  Very crowded, no English and everything is written in Chinese symbols.  We still manage to pick up some basics and a great experience.  

Monday August 1
Today we manage to catch the school bus filled with new teachers to shanghai and off to IKEA we go.  Again another great chance to get stuff for the pad.  I’ve never been to IKEA before so I’m experiencing IKEA culture shock as well as China culture shock.  We manage to get some well needed hangers, hampers, and a little more and meet some of our new neighbors as well.

Part of this bus trip is a tour of Zhudi town and a stop at a street market and little joint that has wonderful Zhudi dumplings, great food!!

Tuesday August 2
First day of work for me kicks off with breakfast in the cafeteria.  Facilities at SAS are wonderful.  A massive open air cafeteria for the high and middle schoolers  is adjacent to the elementary school cafeteria.  Great food and a good message from the administration.  After work, we pike into a bus equipped with a large cooler of beer and head into town for dinner.  We end up at a great chinese brew and a thai place for dinner, returning to the bus, beers, and festivities.  Great first day of work!!

Wednesday 8/3
 Josephine is jumping right in with both feet.  She met a buddy, Mia, right away and has a play date and sleep over already.  She makes quick friends with the adults.  Quinn is a bit more reserved.  Had a rough night thinking about all she is missing back home.  She hasn't been in colorado for a few weeks and there isn't much for her here, yet.  Very few of the other families in our neighborhood have returned from summer break at this point.  Quinn is reflective but is in much better spirits this morning.  We've struggled to get a VPN for our internet hook up which means, not facebook for her.  She's been relying on email to connect with friends back home.  

Saturday 8/6
The Matuscheks got out today for a grand walk around Zhudi Town.  We probably covered about 5 miles and saw many shops, restaurants in dirt-road garages and plenty of people out and about.  Had a great lunch at a joint near the dumpling place.  They have a hot pot in the center of the table and they brought out a large cauldron of broth.  They then toss a whole cut-up chicken, potatoes, tofu, lettuce, spinach, tofu, and what not in and you watch it cook.  They give you ladles so you just give yourself a scoop whenever you want.  It was priceless to watch Quinn scoop out some soup only to find a chicken foot staring her in the face!!

Sunday 8/7
We waited all day for Typhoon Muifa to attack but NOTHING!?  We were actually looking forward to a day huddled on the couch watching out our balcony window as the wicked wind whipped the trees of Westwood Green around with massive torrents of Eastern Pacific Rain pelting us….but NO!  It was actually sunny for a good part of the day and rather pleasant.  We had a quiet day skyping and hanging around the pad.  Quinn made a batch of Chocolate Chip cookies, probably cost us about $50 (chips $10, flour $10, vanilla $10, etc!!)

Monday 8/8
What a day!  Woke up this morning, checked the time on the lap top – 6:40 – set the computer back down on the kitchen table and left out the back door (which we had left unlocked all night) for a morning jog.  Cane back at 7:00 to find the computer missing.  Josephine was in her room watching a movie and Quinn and Bridget were asleep.  Only explanation is that someone walked into the unlocked door while the girls slept and removed the computer from our table!! Good God!  What an invasion.  We called the school and the management office.  Police came over and lifted footprints off of our floor – CSI Shanghai!!

Alan, Michael, Ed, Helene, Amy Ding, all were very supportive and acted quickly to help us out, but what the heck!?  What a scary invasion of privacy.  Lock your doors!

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