Well, after what seems much longer than 10 days, we are back “home” in Taipei. We ended the semester well with a faculty Christmas party (about which I am seriously considering contacting the producers of The Office), a student Christmas party, and my first full marathon. I gave my legs about a 24-hour respite, we filled our bellies with a well-deserved American-style breakfast, and then we ventured out to the airport to for our long journey back to the States.
After passing through customs at LAX, we miraculously found my brother and sister-in-law, Harrison and Ali, within minutes. They took us to a diner for some equally miraculous American food. It felt so good to be able to read the menu, make an educated dining decision, and effectively communicate that decision to the waitress. We paid the bill with a not-so-missed American price tag and headed to their apartment. The next day was filled with fabulous food and delicious wine as Ali gave us a tour of everything Santa Barbara has to offer.
On Christmas Eve, the four of us climbed out of bed at O’dark:30 and groggily made our way back to LAX. We really appreciated that Harrison didn’t mention that he was hallucinating due to lack of sleep until we were safely inside the terminal. We hopped on a plane and four hours later, we were in sunny Mexico! We wished the customs agent a feliz Navidad and were off to our resort. As another Christmas miracle, we easily reunited with my parents and sister, Tori, who arrived just after we did on a different flight from Denver. We caught up over toddies and dinner and went to bed to await Santa Claus.
As I’m sure most people did on Christmas morning, we woke up, had a mimosa and staked out our beach chairs. Santa did indeed come in the form of lunch sack stockings that my beautiful mother toted all the way from Denver. The rest of the day was filled with such important decisions as, “Should I lay on my stomach or my back?”, “Should I take a dip in the ocean, or the pool?”, and most importantly “What should I order to sip on this time?”
The 26th was welcomed mostly by my sister whose boyfriend, Matt, was scheduled to arrive that evening. We decided to set up camp at the pool and joined in such exciting activities as water polo and water aerobics. The next several days mimicked the first as we discovered the best places to eat, our favorite waitresses, and how to reserve the hotel’s mini sailboats. Our evenings were spent with difficult dinner decisions and riotously entertaining games of Balderdash and Apples to Apples.
To mix things up a little, we all took an excursion on the 28th that led us swinging on zip-lines through the Mexican jungle. We then hopped on bikes and rode to a cenote, a fresh water-filled sink hole for a refreshing dip. The expedition concluded with dinner and the opportunity to buy pictures and videos of our Mexican jaunt. The next morning, Harrison and Ali roused themselves extra early to go scuba diving as the rest of us slept in to catch our 10:00 snorkeling tour. Wildlife highlights included a barracuda, a small stingray, and tons of coral. After these two exhausting days, we were ready for a break. So, we spent the next couple of days recuperating on the beach.
Much too soon, our vacation came to an end. We had a quick, tearful goodbye as we went our separate ways on New Year’s Eve. Chris and my flight to Taiwan didn’t leave until the 1st so Harrison and Ali joined us for one last party to ring in the new year in our hotel room in L.A. It finally came time for us to head back “home” so we boarded our plane. Four movies, two meals, and 14 hours of flying later, we find ourselves trying to adjust back to Taipei’s time zone and our life in Asia.