May 13th

Today we flew to Guanzhou (pronounced “guan-jo”) for the final leg of our journey. This time luckily we had a more reasonable departure time. We couldn’t imagine having to have ourselves, our luggage, and our children ready by 6 am. This time the luggage was to be ready by 11 am, and we left at 12:30. While we were passing the time in the morning, Wayne and I decided we’d better try to get Amanda used to the stroller. She had screamed the first time we put her in it. But after yesterday’s ride in the grocery cart, we had hope that she would accept the stroller. We started out by standing her in the stroller in our hotel room, then cruising up and down the hallway with her. When we returned to the room, she was happy. She started sinking down, tired of standing, and sat in the stroller as if she’d never had concerns about it. She said “Ya” and we were off down the hall again, greeting the housekeepers and anyone else who happened to be outside the rooms.

The Chongqing airport (where we left from) is quite small for the population of 30 million. It seems just a little bigger than the Harrisburg, PA airport. It seems not too many people travel into or out of Chongqing. It was hot and muggy both outside and inside the airport. As we arrived, there were approving smiles and coos from many Chinese women. One tried to ask me something about Amanda as the woman beamed at Amanda, but I had no idea what she was saying. When we went through airport screening, I knew enough not to give The Duck to Amanda before we went through. Wayne and I had witnessed a scene in the US one time, where the child’s teddy bear was ripped out of his hands to put it through the x-ray scanner, as the child screamed.

Amanda rode in my arms through the airport, saying “Ya” and smiling at anyone who looked her way. Our wait in the airport was long, since the plane was delayed an hour or so. Many of the children were getting a little fussy, since it was nap time. But we managed to keep Amanda stimulated enough by walking around, that she wasn’t extremely fussy overall, and didn’t fall asleep. She was such a flirt with people, looking at strangers and vocalizing til they smiled and waved. She would smile cutely, and they would return her smile. At one point I took her into the little convenience store to buy some rice cakes, which all the children loved. As I was paying, six young Chinese women employees flocked around, cooing, smiling, and responding to her little hand waves and vocalizations. One woman reached for her hand, pulling her fingers out of her mouth. I had never seen her suck on her fingers before. Rather than having the woman touch her fingers (germs, y’know) I wiped them myself, and again her fingers went into her mouth. As the dutiful mother I took them out again before the Chinese finger-police could do it.

Yes, I admit, my germ-phobia is waxing. The five-second rule is in effect. If something is on the ground for less than 5 seconds, and is not a sticky object, I’ll brush it off and give it back to her. The Duck has been on the floor many times, and handled by other people enough times, that I’m just looking the other way and enjoying Amanda’s attachment to it. But be assured that The Duck will go swimming in the washer when we get home.

Anyway, at the airport I took Amanda in the bathroom to change her. There aren’t any changing tables, so I knelt down in the corner of the entry area to the bathroom, changing her as three women chattered and cooed down at her. It’s pretty different being the center of attention while having your diaper changed.

Once we finally got on the plane, Amanda became more animated again (she had been getting fussy and tired). There were two Chinese men behind us, and one sitting beside me, who we had never met. She immediately stood on my lap, looking over the back of the seat and flirting, putting her whole body into the “yah” call. She would reach her hand between the seats to the strangers, and even hand off her plastic chain toy, and even The Duck to them! She would laugh and flirt even more, to the point I was laughing so hard I was crying. She would suddenly straighten up, throw her eyebrows up in a surprised look, and do a sudden intake of air like she was very surprised. Then she would laugh and crinkle up her face. Oh, what fun!!

When we took off, I was hoping she would drink or eat things so her ears wouldn’t hurt. She was chewing on the rice cake, drinking her bottle, and once we were up in the air she promptly fell asleep. She woke up happy, stood up on me and flirted some more. It’s so hard to believe that only 4 days ago she was trapped in an orphanage, with little stimulation and interaction.

The humid oven of hot air that hit us was nearly unbearable as we walked out of the airport. We had to wait for the bus, sweating and wondering why we had done our hair or makeup, hoping our deodorant was still working. Wayne suddenly asked me, “You did bring my sunglasses, didn’t you?” Oops. They were still on the plane. Amanda had attacked them while they were hanging on Wayne’s shirt, so we had tucked them into the seat pocket for safe keeping. In our rush, I hadn’t grabbed them when we left the plane – too many things to carry and remember these days. Well, Rosa and Maggie, our guides, ended up taking a few minutes to go back into the plane to get the sunglasses, which we really appreciated. They were amazed that the sunglasses cost $100 (800 yuen equivalent) about 10 years ago, and Wayne has never lost them. We really appreciated the help. We admitted to the other passengers on our bus that it was our fault we were waiting, but at that time we were in air conditioning, so no one was complaining.

On our half-hour drive to Guanzhou, there were echoes of “I’m ready to go home… I want to go home.” As we drove into the city, there was much more brightness and cleanliness than at Chongqing, and we actually saw the sun a bit. As we pulled into the driveway of our hotel, the entire bus echoed with “Wowwww” – the hotel is the most beautiful and elaborate Wayne and I have ever seen. The lobby itself, with its shops, might be an acre or two. The walls and ceilings of the lobby are elaborate. Everywhere you look, there are staff ready to help you. As we stood in the lobby waiting for room assignments, we all were beaming and saying we were glad this was the last hotel, since we would have been depressed to go “down” to anything else after this. The room is quite nice, with double beds (the first hotel had had larger-than-single beds, but the second one had double beds), safe, fridge, and brightness. Wayne immediately checked for internet access and was thrilled that he could get free high-speed internet, in the comfort of our own room. We emailed several people and he worked on posting the photos for the web site. Aah, what a good feeling to have contact with the outside world again!

Unfortunately, the “high speed” access seems to be for downloading, not uploading. He’s having a hard time uploading photos. We have about 25 images per day that we’d like to post, but it looks like we might not be able to post most of them until we get home.

Just after our luggage was delivered to our room, I gathered up laundry to be done at an outside source, arranged by our guides. Then immediately on to a grocery store run at 8:30 pm. I went with the group while Wayne watched Amanda and did computer work. I found jars of baby food, which we hadn’t seen in Chongqing. Amanda loved it! I feel like I can now feed her more variety of foods, since we have been limited with buffets and snacks.

When I returned, there was a foul odor in the room. Wayne announced that he had crossed a milestone. Amanda had had a dirty diaper, and he had changed it. I knew it had been a bad one, because the room still stunk despite his having put the diaper in a plastic bag.

Then it was my turn to stay here, and Wayne went for dinner. He returned with a pizza from Pizza Hut. It tasted soooo good. He only had to go about a block to Pizza Hut, but he received lots of propositions from women of the night.

There are two strange things about this wonderful hotel room. One, there are no drawers for unpacking. It took a lot of creativity to unpack and still be able to find things. Two, the beds are so hard that a board might be more comfortable. Amanda loves when I lie her on her back and bounce the bed. But it’s not working here! The beds are too hard! Oh well, we can handle it. We’re glad to be back in civilization.

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