I told you I’d get around to this one, but I didn’t anticipate the struggle. When starting this post I actually titled it “Top ____ Things I Miss…” because I figured I would start writing and see what I ended up with. Even after hitting publish on this post, I know there’s no way to quantify that experience. While I type this even, I’m Facebook messaging with one of my girls. We communicate now the same way we did then- lots of smiley faces.
What do I yearn for now that the weather is getting cooler and I’m losing my Vietnamese faster than I could imagine for how little I knew?
1. The Kids. I’m not even going to build up to the end of the post for dramatic purposes and say the kids at the end, because that would not do them justice. I miss how they ran up to the bus every morning when we showed up for school. I miss how they laughed at me when I tried to count to ten, and how complicated their version of rock paper scissors was. I miss how happy selfies made them, and how they cheered their hearts out for their teams on competition days. I miss giving constant piggy backs and trusting a ten year old to ride around with me on the back of their bike.
2. My Co-Coaches. Linh (“Luten”) and Tut were my saviors the entire time. The saved my butt the very first first day, and blew me away every day after that. Tut never failed to have the kids laughing hysterically, and Linh always told me what to order when we ate street food so I didn’t die of spicy foods. I remember Linh telling me the rain always reminded him of romantic movies, and Tut sharing that he loved jazz music. I miss drawing on the chalkboard, and the kids teasing me endlessly for my lack of artistic talent compared to those two geniuses. I miss creating lesson plans even, and I miss how those two pushed me beyond my comfort zone as a teacher- letting me really engage with the students despite the communication barrier. I remember the three of us teasing each other, and then crying together on the last day. The only day they had difficulty translating what I had to say.
Our puffy eyes giving away that this photo was taken on the last morning
3. Da Nang. Too vague of a heading? Not too concerned. I had never heard of Da Nang before this trip- Ho Chi Ming in the south and Hanoi in the north sure, but this city in central Vietnam is not to be missed if ever traveling in that part of the world. We were told from our Vietnamese coaches that Da Nang was where Vietnamese vacationed…good enough for us! While the Vietnamese tended to hit the beach around 6am to avoid the suns rays, we soaked up the sun on deserted beaches. We always felt safe wandering the streets. I miss the way people would come up to you in street just to say hello, and to ask where we were from. I miss the supermarket, and the fresh market. How dogs and children played in the street and how every hotel had a rooftop patio. I miss the more touristy towns, like Hoi An and Hue, but to Da Nang felt like home, for a few weeks at least.
4. Being a Regular. I worked at Starbucks, I know how it is. The baristas knowing your drink without asking, the only conversation needed being about your day. We were regulars. Every single lunch hour, we hopped a block over and enjoyed the freshest coconut water you could possibly find. This man, whose name we learned was “Tum” was the goofiest Vietnamese guy we interacted with. He always knew we wanted our coconut water with ice, and would would fake pour vodka in every single time. We’d watch tv with his kids while he took a machete to the massive stack of coconuts out front. One time he asked me out to lunch (when we had a translator with us)- not sure how that would work out. After we went to a hair salon and Abby died her hair burgundy, he played with it for a solid five minutes before picking up his machete. Some days we didn’t even go for the 65 cent coconut water, but the non-verbal social hour that always ended with us giggling uncontrollably at his antics.
Did I run out of things I miss? Not in the slightest. But did I run out of time because I have homework due at 9:30am? Yes. And I’m still not packed for the team going to Minnesota tomorrow soooo Part Two can be a work in progress :)