I’m taking a shower with butterflies in my stomach. I am going on a trip with my guide here in Taiwan. I made contact with her through my connection in Tokyo. A large web of tea ladies and gentlemen is developing, all of whom want to share tea with me and be my guides in this wide world. I will take a week to discover various types of tea from Taiwan, there is a lot to learn first-hand but finding new tea farmers who can complete the assortment for Crusio is a priority. It is the new harvest season now at the plantations so my timing is perfect.
Taiwan has a wide range of teas that I am curious about so my guide has made a lovely schedule and I stuffed in all of my requests. Armed with my brand-new camera and gifts (naturally all tiny and light. KLM is kind to me but they don’t allow boxes full of gifts ), I walk downstairs. It is always nerve wracking to meet the person with whom you will travel for a week. You have had months of contact via email, perhaps 100 emails have been sent but now you are at the agreed place and agreed time on the other side of the world. Right on time a small, sweet woman comes up: “Hi, I am your guide for this week.” Yes! This remains weird and I will never get used to it. The world is o-so big and yet also so very small.
My guide is a few years younger than I am and is therefore also very flexible, which is wonderful for a guide. The Driver (mother of the guide but we call her Driver) is relatively small and drives like crazy, which is a must here in Taiwan. Before she drives she puts on a kind of oven mitt and pulls the seat all the way up until her nose rests against the windshield and her glasses are on the tip of her nose. And she floors it…because Driver likes to speed. Maneuvering at a very high speed through the roads of Taipei. In the meantime I get maps, schedules and an apple. I notice during the day that Driver has also taken charge of catering. I am sitting in a car with two ladies on the way to my first tea farmer in Taiwan. Yes! In addition to being mother, chauffeur and caterer, Driver is also a learned tea master. On top of the snacks I will surely receive lots of tea knowledge!