After their time in Albania together, Juanita and Salvano raffled the name of several countries once more and ended up with the country of Taiwan. They flew to the oldest city in the country, that is Tainan.
Jeff Yang observed the young couple as they walked through the cobbled streets of the old city. Jeff who was once called Yang Shen but had changed his name after serving in the Taiwanese military and meeting plenty of American military, as well was working in America for some time. He felt more unique with an American sounding name.
“They were clearly foreigners but they were interesting.” Jeff thought.
He watched as they both stopped at a fruit stall and bought some peeled pineapple slices and some starfruits. Just then the bag of star fruits fell and several began rolling down the slight slope of the cobbled streets and landed right around Jeff’s feet. He bent to pick the wayward fruits up. The althletic looking man, rushed over and said thanks very sincerely.
Jeff being the friendly type of man he was and being able to speak English, quickly asked
” Where you guys come from?”
Salvano answered, turning quickly to glance at Juanita who had by now joined him,
” Ah Belize my friend.”
” Hello, it’s nice to hear English. I’m Juanita and this is my husband Salvano.”Juanita interjected feeling friendly
” Hello Juanita, I’m Jeff. Salvano nice to meet you. I have never seen a man so fit looking before. What kind of workout do you do? What kind of supplements you take?” Jeff said honestly.
Jeff who had always been skinny but trying to get bigger and buffer couldn’t help the feelings of admiration and envy that quickly flitted through him. Salvano was muscular and lean with a good height.
” I do a lot of rowing Jeff and I farm as well.” Salvano said
” Rowing and farming? Mhmm so you take supplements though right?”
” No I don’t take anything, they have steroids in everything these days. Muscles disappear once you stop taking supplements.” Salvano replied.
” Where you guys staying or headed to?” Jeff questioned anew.
” A little hotel room not too far from here actually.” Salvano replied.
” I like you two for some reason…if you want I can take you around, in fact I’m going back to my village in two days. I’m part of the Rukai tribe. I know my mom would really love the company. She loves foreigners.” Jeff offered.
Turning to look at Juanita, Salvano hesitated.
” Don’t worry man, I no kill you. Come take me to your hotel, anywhere you stay i can bet they know me.” Jeff said
Salvano led the way to his hotel called
‘Little Tainan’, when they entered into the Lobby, true to Jeff’s word, Philo the porter/receptionist/valet called out happily to Jeff.
Salvano watched as they shook hands and spoke in their native Taiwanese mandarin. Philo the receptionist looked at both Juanita and Salvano and pointed at Jeff enthusiastically, nodding his head and giving thumbs up. Philo then disappeared and three minutes later brought out a perturbed looking old lady with a ladle in her hand. When she saw Jeff, her countenance changed to a large smile and she behaved like a mother towards him, straightening his shirt and she kept saying to Jeff,
” Eat more, you skinny.”
When the greetings were over, Salvano agreed to go with Jeff to his Rukai village. They were checking out of the hotel on the same day anyway and had no set plans.
“This was a good providence.” Salvano thought and Juanita was in agreement.
At the Rukai Village:
The Rukai village was high up in the mountains and it took two days by a little bus for them to reach. When they arrived Jeff told them to wait in the little bus. He went inside to the chief of the village and some elders and explained about his guests.
They were welcomed very warmly after that; Jeff took them to his mother’s house. Their houses were made of thin slate rocks and looked very sturdy. Jeff was a very talkative host and he told them,
” Men and women are treated as equal here in our tribe. We love to hunt, especially for wild boar. It’s a strong tradition we have here for hunting.” Jeff said.
Jeff’s mother Phai Ling could speak very passable English too and she warmly greeted Salvano and Juanita. She showed them where they would sleep and where to rest their things. Then she called out to them to,
” Come and eat. Do want coffee? We make here ourselves.” she said showing them a container of dark beaten coffee powder.
” Yes I would love some.” Juanita answered, nodding her head enthusiastically.
Mama Phai Ling, happily prepared the coffee, after she directed them to sit around an outdoor table. The table was spread with roasted pork meat, fruits and a bowl of rice. Jeff also took a seat. They waited on Mama Phai Ling to join them.
It was late in the evening by then and everyone ate their food heartily. Jeff told Salvano that he would take him on a hunting trip and teach him some things. Mama Phai Ling then said to Juanita,
” In our tribe, man loves you alot the more often he goes hunting and brings back a kill or rare mountain plants.”
Juanita nodded listening.
” We will wrap our heads like hunters and go out into the bush.” Jeff said.
When they were done and feeling quite tired, Mama Phai showed them where they could bathe and change. Once they were refreshed, Salvano and Juanita went to sleep their first night In the Rukai village.
The next day:
The women of Rukai were very curious about Juanita and like a preening peacock Mama Phai brought her around, introducing her to everybody. While Mama Phai was busy talking, Juanita noticed a small bus up ahead of her passing through the village. It stopped and Juanita noticed that people were going to the van and buying things. When they finally reached closer Juanita saw that it was like a little grocery store. A lady was inside selling meat, spices, bananas, fertilizer etc. Several busy looking mother’s with little children or babies in hand were eagerly calling out at the stall.
Even Mama Phai stopped and bought a bunch of bananas. Meanwhile Juanita was truly entertained by it all. She also took in the gorgeous view that being on the mountain side afforded her.
They ended up staying in the Rukai village for a week and in that time they learnt several interesting little things. Salvano had told her while they were laying in their small cot
” Only the chief of the tribe is allowed to wear his hunter’s head tie, tied at the front. Everyone else must tie their head ties at the back of their heads.”
Jeff had also shown Salvano how hunters survived long journeys out into the mountain and kept from getting hungry.
” We eat eat peanuts and taro roots when hunting to keep our energy up for days.” Jeff had said.
They also met the village messenger, who was given a special colorful headdress which marked him as the fastest, long distance runner in the tribe.
All in all it was a great experience for Juanita and Salvano. When they were done, Jeff brought them back down the mountain. Jeff then introduced them to Hong Quien and his sister Hong Yang. They were pineapple farmers. The two kindly hosted Salvano and Juanita for another week. During that time Juanita got to see just how much the Taiwanese people loved pineapples.
Hong Yang made various dishes each day. There were pickled pineapples which tasted salty, pineapples in chicken soup, pineapples and beans, pineapple stir fry. Hong Yang explained that back in the days Taiwanese women couldn’t store pineapples for long so they found creative ways to start cooking it. Juanita also noticed that unlike the pineapples in Belize that had a tough center, the pineapple cores in Taiwan were soft.
Juanita and Salvano had a nice mellow time with the brother and sister duo. Hong Yang explained that she had learnt English when some missionaries had lived in their village when she was a very young child.
Hong Quien, the brother, took Salvano and Juanita two times to a special mud spring in their village, where both fire and water could be seen coming from the spring. To say it blew Juanita’s mind was an understatement. But yes, there it was… a clear stream of water running out. Then someone would light the air around the stream and fire would appear.
Their final adventure in Taiwan included going to a two hundred year old home that was around during an old Chinese dynasty. The house was still fairly preserved with many of the things from back then. Their tour guide told them that the doors of the house was 200 years old. He also said,
” There are thirty seven living members of this family’s bloodline, they cannot sell the house unless all of them agree.”