Sunday, October 15, 2006

Why can't I be there?

The beauty of this Motor City season has been the utter surprise. There was no real hope of spring, and no chance of a letdown come the summer. This wasn't the Red Wings or Pistons or Michigan football -- teams that carry expectations like rucksacks. The Tigers were a baby left in a blanket on a doorstep, thrilling with every coo and smile and crawl and wobble. So the city was happy with a winning team, delighted with a contender, giddy with a playoff clinch, and downright dizzy with a win over the almighty Yankees, who will never ever know the wonder of an impossible pennant.

The economy may be bad, and the auto industry may be struggling, and the Lions may be winless, but for a good hour Saturday night, a slab of pavement in Detroit was the happiest place on Earth. The Tigers had given a town its most unforgettable two weeks ever.

The party went on Saturday night, in the lot outside Cheli's, and in the parking structure outside Elwood's, and everywhere in between. And even when Adams went quiet again, well after 10 p.m., there were still two kids hanging on that fence.


Waiting in Palacag├╝ina just isn't the same.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

"Today, the league. Tomorrow, the world."

I got home today just in time to turn on the TV and watch the bottom of the ninth inning of the Tigers vs. Athletics game. This is just too good to be true. My host family was a little weirded out to see me jumping in the hair, yelling "Walk off home run, walk off home run!!!!!" but they can think what they want...the Detroit Tigers are in the World Series!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

My New House

I finally found a house and moved in two weeks ago...finally. It's essentially a square, concrete structure with a dividing wall in the middle. On either side of the dividing wall are two rooms. Of the four rooms I've made one into my bedroom, one into a kitchen, and one into a living room type area (the other I'm reserving for the hammock I plan on buying). Unfortunately, the house doesn't have indoor plumbing which means I have a latrine in the back and I have to store water to use in the kitchen in a big barrel. It's certainly inconvient, but you get used to it.

The house is a bit of a fixer-upper. Along with being covered in cobwebs when I moved in, the repair work that has been done in the house reminds me of the classic student house in Ann Arbor. Everything is done haphazardly by people that probably shouldn't be doing the repair work in the first place. The owners here don't always have the money to do an effective/professional job, so they let their son, uncle, aunt, or whoever else do the job with whatever's available. That means, I have a light switch that is at ground level, a repaired crack in the wall that is already beginning to crack again, and a closet that is made out of old, rotting wood. But, like that old, shitty college couch that upon first site is deemed too gross to sit on, after a couple days of use the dirt, cobwebs, and faults become your own and you're comfortable with the filth. So it goes with my house and after a couple days of cleaning and repairing the house feels like my own...even if I still have a long way to go.

My first job has simply been to buy the requirments to actually live and cook in the house. Without a Target down the street, this job is much more difficult. I've been all over town questioning people and meeting people in search of tables, chairs, dishes, mattresses, etc. In many respects it's been a two week long Spanish vocabulary session where I'll realize I need a screwdriver, for example, and then walk to the hardware store to describe what I'm looking for. Have you ever tried to describe the word "hook" without also knowing how to say "to hang"? It's hard!

Besides the Spanish, outfitting my house has been a cool experience mostly because it's so different than what I would have done in the US. Everything I've bought has come from a twenty or so block radius. Besides the help of a truck to move a bed and a refridgerator I've made all my purchases on foot, walking from store to store. Need a table? Go to the carpenter's house and give him the drawing. He'll have it done in a week and will transport it to your house in the basket of a vehicle that can best be described as a tricycle. Need a plastic basket? Go to the park where a man has 1980s pickup truck filled with everything from socks to sheets to plastic hampers. It's kind of a Target.

So, after a few weeks of working and buying, I finally got all the things I needed to start cooking this week. This means I'm now on a healthy diet of oatmeal and bananas which is just what the doctor ordered after a lack of fruits, five months of rice and beans, and something fried at every meal. It's beautiful to be able to eat when you want, what you want, and how you want it. Now, if I could only find a Taco Bell.