John and I trying on the antique digs.
I’m back on campus and taking a deep breath as I decompress from our homestay that, as you can tell, was chockfull of adventure. Happily, I can tell you that despite the little side trip to the hospital, it was truly an enjoyable experience.
One unexpected plus is that my Chinese is actually improving. I can now string together elementary sentences such as “My horse is fat,” and “My dad is busy.” I can say the same things about your horse and father, and even about his/her horse and father.
Don’t act like you’re not impressed.
To catch up on Kaili:
On Sunday afternoon we went to the home of an English teacher from John’s high school. She had some family visiting for the holiday and prepared a lovely lunch for all of us. There were a couple of girls our age who both had impressive English and it was fun to chat with them and see how Chinese families interact. I think John also appreciated the break from being the sole interpreter. That evening we went to dinner with some of his high school friends who were all very happy to be reunited
after their first-ever stint away from home.
On Monday we took the train to Zhenyuan, the small town on the Wuyang river where Jiang Anyi grew up and where her father had been in charge of refurbishing the beautiful bridge that leads to the Qing Long Dong (cave temple). We visited the cave temple and had a lunch of local cuisine before taking a rest in the hotel that Jiang Anyi had booked for the day. That evening we enjoyed the cool weather as we strolled along the river, entertained by flamboyant street vendors. We had dinner on the board walk and then joined a crowd of elderly women in what was apparently a street line dance put on by the government so as to encourage citizens to exercise.
The elders took their line dance very seriously, and I’m not sure they approved when Mel and I decided to shake things up a bit. We added our own twists, were about three beats behind all of the choreographed palm bounces, and could not control our giggles. Eventually a local gent decided to cut a rug and asked me to dance. The Chinese are in general very conservative about
Full Miao Get-up
I'm pretty sure that we WERE the tourist attraction in these outfits.
relating to members of the opposite sex, so this was a partner dance that did not actually involve any physical contact. It’s a bit hard to follow a lead who’s a good three feet away from you, but I did my best. I also had trouble determining if this was a style that I was just unfamiliar with, or if it was supposed to be flamenco, which surely none of the locals had ever seen. I settled on some sort of mix, and by the end of the song we had attracted quite a crowd. I would like to think that they were admiring my rhythm, but it’s a distinct possibility that they were just in awe at my willingness to make such a fool of myself.
Thankfully, I will never know.
After the dance party dispersed, we went for a ride on the river where we had a spectacular view of all the red paper lanterns reflecting off the water. It was a calm night. Relaxing and listening to the local entertainment that drifted from the street musicians was the ideal way to wrap up our time in Guizhou.
Our train back to Kaili didn’t leave
The table was so full on National Day that we all had to hold our bowls in our hands as we ate. John's mom and aunties are excellent cooks!
until 1 am, so Tuesday turned into one of those long travel days where you catch Zs a few at a time, here and there. At the airport in Guangzhou there were a few other students from UIC and we all decided to go in on a taxi back to school. Sounds expensive, I know, but the “illegal taxis” are probably one of my favorite things about China. This one ended up being cheaper than the bus and, of course, it was far more comfortable and much faster. Don’t worry, Mom, I don’t take unmarked cabs unless I’m with a Chinese person who knows what they’re doing.
Today was my first day back in school, and time just keeps flying by. My roller blades got in today, so I’ll be tearing up the streets of Zhuhai soon. Also today, Mel and I went to pick up our suites which we had tailored for UIC’s high table dinner taking place tomorrow. The HTD is part of the Whole Person Education program and is intended to give national students a chance to prepare themselves to dine in a western setting. The US Consul General from Guanghzhou will be speaking, so I’m
I also learned to say "Grandpa" in Chinese. Yeye showed us his war medals, and his tennis medals. He also smiled quite smugly as John explained that he still beats all the young guys.
looking forward to it. This weekend Mel, Emily, and I will find ourselves in Macau. I have to go in order to renew my 30 day visa, but we’re planning on making a weekend of it, so it should be fun.
Thank you all for your prayers, well-wishes, and good vibes- your support means the world to me!
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