Day two of driving in Taipei and I already experienced the perils of relying on the GPS on the mountain back roads.
We have two main choices of roads up the mountain to where we live. One is the main road and is two lanes in each direction and no more treacherous than any other local road. It takes a bit longer to get to the school, and it involves more city driving and traffic once you hit town, but it’s an easier drive, overall. The second main way to get up and down the mountain is the windy road by way of the Chinese Cultural University. Driving it involves dodging 100s of scooters, one lane sections of the road and a twisty, edge-of-the-mountain route. This route takes about ten fewer minutes to get to the school.
After a successful run at the simpler road yesterday, I decided I was ready for the back road today. On the way home from the dentist’s office, which is very close to the school, I set the GPS to take me home and set on my way. Before I knew it, Zack and I found ourselves on one of what we call the “back back” roads. It looked familiar, so we continued on our way and I figured it would just take us just a little bit longer to get there.
After about 10 minutes, I realized why the road was familiar to me. I’d been on it once before, in a taxi. I know this because we came to a permanent road block. We could go no further. Even the GPS suddenly registered that the road ended, and, just as I remembered it, the section of the road leading up to the roadblock is one lane. When the taxi I was in encountered the roadblock, the driver chose to back down the mountain.
I decided to take a different strategy. I had Zack get out of the car to watch my progress and ensure that I did not back into the ditch that lined the side of the road. He made the helpful comment, “Well, you have your phone, and there is a signal, so if you get stuck, you can just call for help.” Ummm, no thank you, how about if you just make sure I don’t go back too far? That’s what I said in my head, but aloud, I said, “please just tell me when I am getting close to the ditch and should stop.” Remember, Zack is my Aspie kid. I will never tire of his perspective. In fact, I was happy to have him as my passenger, rather than any of the other boys, who would have worried aloud, and often, throughout the adventure. Zack remained pretty laid back for the whole process. The only indication he gave that he was at all concerned was when he said, “see, this is what I meant when I said it seems like being a grown up is stressful.”- A reference to a conversation we’d had yesterday.
With Zack’s help, I turned the car around; reset the GPS, which immediately recalculated and redirected us to the correct road; and headed back to the bottom of the mountain to restart our journey home. We went back to our starting point and then got on our way.
Driving is complex here. The roads split in odd directions, there are forks in the road everywhere, the traffic circles are numerous and regular lanes suddenly turn into scooter lanes or turn-only lanes, with no notice.
We made it home in record time, by which I mean ‘longest’ time. All was quiet on the home front, though. None of the other boys were aware of the extra time we’d spent venturing home.
On the roads, I happily play the role of the clueless foreigner because that’s who I am. I may as well make the best of it, and use it to my advantage. I see no point to getting agitated over these small predicaments. I just remember that I’m in no rush and I will get there eventually, and in good condition.
Home is where the Navy sends us, no matter how topsy-turvy the journey, nor how different from our idea of normal it is.
This picture is of the University from the bottom of the mountain. It gives you perspective of the distance/elevation we travel each day.
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