The recent rainy days in Taitung have been going on for a few days, looking forward to the sunshine driving away the gloom and dampness of the room, which is really a good way to pick up good mood. For Dan Paiero who came from a country at high latitude, the passionate summer of the East is indeed a challenge, but it has not stopped him from falling in love with Taitung.
“I have been living in Taitung for seven years. I used to live in Hualien, but I like Taitung more. Hualien is really a crowded city where I feel trapped, too many people…,” Dan said. Dan grew up in the sparsely populated Northland of Canada. After he settled in Taitung, he regained the feeling of being relaxed, where he may breathe gently.
“A few years after I arrived in Taitung, I decided to live here. This is my new home!” During the seven years staying in Taitung, which is quite a long period, Dan used to teach English in an English cram school. In the leisure time, he loved painting, taking pictures everywhere in the mountains or by the sea. Also, he has a strong interest in aboriginal culture. The mountains and hills, as well as the blue sea in Taitung, make him fall in love with this natural land deeply.
“People in Taitung are very easygoing, and it is really relaxing to get along with them!” Dan recalled that he had traveled to Japan once, and the Japanese people who he had contacted him were more serious and uptight. After that, when he returned to Taipei and then Hualien, the feeling of relaxation came to him, and until he came to Taitung, he felt completely relieved. As for Taitung’s unique warm hospitality, Dan seems to have special and deep feeling. He loves photography, so he often stands on the side of road to take pictures. He often meets enthusiastic people to ask him, “Do you need help?”, “Do you need help to guide the direction?” It is really interesting to be mistaken as a tourist. He smiled and talked about his experience five years ago. At that time, he was driving near Dawu. He only had a camera but no ID, and a police car happened to stop him. “At that moment, it was terrible because I didn’t have any document with any ID…” While I was annoyed, a police officer came over and said that he was driving too fast, and then he returned to his car to take out a bottle of sunscreen, and said to Dan, “The sun is boiling, and this sunscreen may prevent sunburn!” At the moment, he felt very touched. “There is no police officer who may do this in other places of the world, ” Dan said. People here simply only try to help people, and do not ask for any return. This is one of the most precious features of Taitung.
Through the photographic lens, Dan presented different perspectives of Taitung’s aboriginal people and folk customs. “I participated in several harvest festivals of tribes, in which mostly I just stood aside watching and taking photos. However, once I went into join them, sing and dance with them, at that moment, I really understood the spirit of the Harvest Festival!” When he joined the tribe as a participant instead of a tourist, he truly understood the sacredness and importance of this annual celebration for the aborigines.”Firecrackers at Master Han Dan is another unique feature of Taitung. I think it is very cool!” Every Lantern Festival in Taitung, he would specially take pictures of the spectacular event of Firecrackers at Master Han Dan. “For me, it is a shock that may not be described by words, but with photos, I may tell this story. There are smoke, explosions, and shocking feelings…” After collecting a large number of photos, Dan published a photography book with the theme of Han Dan, hoping to bring this Taitung folk customs which brought him great impact to more foreigners.
After describing so many fascinating features of Taitung, Dan can’t help but praise the efforts of Taitung in internationalization for the past seven years, which tried to let more foreigners meet the beauty of Taitung, and the popularity of English in Taitung is better and better year after year. He also suggested that information such as the Aboriginal Harvest Festival may be bilingualism, so that the foreigners who are interested in the aboriginal culture may also obtain the related information.
“I enjoy living in Taitung. The more I stay here with open mind, the deeper I understand the charming parts of Taitung!” said Dan. Although there are little annoying things bothering our life occasionally, with love and expectation, every day in Taitung will be satisfying!