February 29, 2000
Yesterday Dan Lavelle took me to Taejon, to Immigration, to register. Good thing he took me! I would have been lost.
We take a taxi downtown, walk to yeok (train station), wait for the train. The gate and time are posted, and the train is announced. Car and seat numbers are printed on the tickets. Lots of people are taking the train, even on Monday.
Trains have uniformed employees coming through with snack carts here: crackers, cookies, oranges, various drinks, maybe dried fish. It’s nice. I try to listen for the announcement of our stop. It’s better, Dan tells me, to check the time of arrival for your stop; the trains are on time here, so that really works.
We had to take two trains, changing at Ch’onan, a decent-sized city an hour away. On the way home, we stopped there, and went to a store called Carrefour, a kind of French Wal Mart, as Dan described it. There, I found out that my shoe size is 245. It sounds big, and in fact, is probably the largest woman’s size. I feel like an elephant here.
In Taejon, we were able to do our immigration business easily. Then we ate lunch at a restaurant in the tiny but brim-full student village next to Chungnam University. Outside, the place looked abandoned. Inside, we were the only customers. One room had low tables, for sitting on the floor. We chose one of two tables with chairs in the other room. A man put a small grill on the table, where he cooked pork. He showed me how to take big lettuce leaves and small sesame leaves (rough-textured, with serrated edges and a sesame taste), then on top of these leaves to layer pork, onion, kimchi, sance, raw garlic and other raw vegetables, then fold it into a little package and pop it into my mouth. Delicious! And he was so kind.
Nothing is extremely difficult here, and people are so willing to help. I make it through, one day at a time.