November 5, 2018
I went for a run around the Macau Reservoir. The path leading around it is only wide enough for two people at some lengths, forcing any passers-by to run on the thin strip of concrete between the little fence bordering the path and the edge of the reservoir. It is meant to trip people so they fall onto the concrete before falling into the water. The edge is a little too narrow for my comfort. I slowed down as I approached others and walked behind them until a good time to pass.
After a shower, breakfast was two bao – one had soy-sauce-marinated pork inside and the other had a marzipan and black sesame filling. I walked over to the Praca do Tap Seac (Portuguese name) or Ta Shi Guang Chang (Chinese), a public square where I use the free government Wi-Fi. There’s no Wi-Fi in my aunt’s apartment, where I’ve been living for the past month. I smiled at the security guard whose eyes make him look like he’s always smiling.
Today I am supposed to call a friend from my hometown of Iowa City. We both graduated from school in the spring. After living for a month and a half in Tunisia, she was upset that she doesn’t yet have her ~dream job~ but I was optimistic. Moving slowly is okay.
The collection of corduroy baggy overalls, banker’s lamps, fringewear and pageboy caps at the nearby Vintage Market makes it feel like the clothing version of the Americana store from The Man In the High Castle. The woman at the cash register invited me to sit on the couch in the corner. We listened to “We Are the World” until her boss sent her a voice message in Cantonese. ABBA was playing, then Queen which made me think of “Bohemian Rhapsody” so I said I love Rami Malek and she showed me that her phone background is a picture of him in a tub. “He’s like Jesus in this picture,” she swooned.
By now, local schools were letting out and the streets filled with kids in uniform combos of white shirts/white shorts (Pui Ching Middle School) or green/yellow tennis tees (Chan Sui Ki Perpetual Help College) or red/blue polos (Hou Kong Middle School). Nai nais in sandals came to scoop them up.
Instead of taking the bus I walked back to the square, now my headquarters for communication. Macau is about half the size of the island of Manhattan or a quarter of the size of Disneyworld. Macau is one of the densest cities in the world. My uncle says that there isn’t enough land for everyone to be standing outside at the same time.
Walking gets me to most places. Each day I try a new route to the Praca without looking at directions and today I discovered the shortest route so far. I was slightly irritated that I’ve taken any other route but this one.
I sat on the steps of the Centro de Exposição de Produtos Alimentares to have a phone-cradling session. A friend on Facebook mentioned his lack of friends since relocating to London. I did not offer consolation, opting instead for, “Ugh that suxxxx.”
When I got to my apartment complex, my aunt was talking on the phone outside. I waved to her and she waved me through the gate. Upstairs I remembered that I had two SIM cards that I found on the ground of the ferry from Hong Kong to Macau. Using an earring back to pop open the card slot, I inserted a card and found that it still has data. It was pretty damn satisfying.
Popula is 100% ad-free, reader-supported journalism accountable only to you. Every dollar of your subscription goes straight to our work. Thank you for supporting Popula.