May 16th

We’re learning a lot of things about parenthood. For one thing, it takes much longer to get ready in the morning now that we have to tag team the showers, dressing, and entertaining a child. She generally will sit on the bed and play or eat cheerios (the favorite snack of most of the children), but sometimes she needs some attention. She wakes up happy, then fussy, then happy again, so it takes a little until she’ll sit and play. This morning we made our wake-up call a half-hour earlier than usual, so we were able to enjoy a leisurely breakfast, and we weren’t rushing to catch the bus before it left.

First our group went to Yuexiu Park (gee, spell-check in the Word program didn’t like that word!). We hiked up about 100 steps to a statue of five rams that was built in 1959 as a tribute to an ancient legend. We couldn’t use strollers, of course, so we were hiking with 20+ lb children and cameras. Amanda agreed to walk up a few steps with my assistance, in the 95 degree heat with about 95% humidity (Aah, we miss home!). At the top was a concession stand where almost all of us bought either a hand fan or a battery powered fan. Our guide told us that the typical accordion style fan originated in Korea, and the true Chinese fan is the paddle style.

We hiked back down the steps, gladly climbed into the air-conditioned bus, and that’s all we saw of the park. Then on to The Chen Clan Temple, which is an old open temple. Amanda had fallen asleep on the bus, so we wheeled her around in the stroller. The place was definitely not handicapped accessible, with all kinds of steps and door sills to step over. We’re getting good at picking up the stroller together and getting up or down steps. When Amanda is awake, she laughs and enjoys being hauled up the steps. Anyway, Wayne took several photos, mostly abstract. I didn’t do any shooting today.

At the Temple, we bought a “chop” at the gift shop. It’s basically a carved wood or stone stamp with the baby’s name. We chose her Chinese name, some people bought a chop with the American name. Ours has a monkey on top of it, like a handle, since all the girls that are adopted by our group were born in the year of the monkey. In the same shop, a man was painting with his hand, using the edge of his hand to make rock mountains. He had many samples there. We asked how he drew the birds and the boat on the water, and we were told he used his fingernails! We bought one painting. In some ways I would have liked more.

We got back to the hotel about noon. It’s so hot in the afternoons that nothing touristy is planned. Wayne and I went to the hotel restaurant once again. He ordered a jumbo hot dog. I was a little afraid what that might contain, so I ordered a salmon sandwich. The hot dog looked very normal. The salmon looked almost raw. I had to reassure myself that it must be ok, that it was just undercooked, and “when in Roam, do as the Romans do” etc. I did eat it, after taking my pepto bismol, which I’ve taken before most meals because I read on the CDC web site that it helps decrease the risk of traveler’s diarrhea. So far we’ve been doing ok. No one in our group seems to have diarrhea, at least not that we’ve told each other! We’ve all been careful, but we’re really missing fresh fruits and vegetables and ice.

Right after lunch we went out on the veranda of the restaurant to see the fish. There is a pond, with hundreds of coy fish. Many of the fish came our direction when we arrived. Amanda had dropped some of her rice cake, so I broke it up and tossed it into the water. The fish attacked it! I wondered if I could toss in some Cheerios (although I didn’t want to run out of Amanda’s favorite treat). I went back into the restaurant, found a waitress who understood English, and asked if it was ok to feed the fish. She said she would bring me some bread, if I didn’t tell her manager – interesting how it sounds similar to halfway around the world back home. She had me take Amanda back to the veranda, and she brought out 4 or 5 rolls. That should be fun! I started breaking up the first roll, throwing pieces in the water. There were a few ducks on the pond, and the bread pieces drew them. The ducks were quicker at grabbing the bread than the fish were, although the mass of flopping fish made a good attempt. The waitress arrived with more rolls! She handed a whole one to Amanda, then laughed as Amanda started to eat it. The waitress enticed Amanda to throw the whole roll into the pond – interesting, something I’ve never done. Well, as soon as the roll hit the water, the mass of fish became much more active, tossing and churning like boiling water, basically pushing the roll along the pond as Amanda and I shrieked with laughter. As the roll got a little wet, the fish were able to snatch bites of it and it soon disappeared. They were back for a repeat performance. Amanda tossed (dropped) another roll into the water, and the mass of fish attacked again as Wayne took pictures and video. Amanda was standing on a bench right by the pond, with me holding onto her well, as she shrieked and laughed and stamped her feet. I could imagine that if she fell into the pond, I would see her being bounced along by a mass of fish as they tried to get her wet enough to bite into her! I’m happy that she is so intrigued with wildlife. Hopefully she’ll like the critters back home.

Both Amanda and I had an afternoon nap while Wayne did more computer work. Then we met the group for supper. We walked across the street (up and over the walkway, where begging children would follow you after their parent pointed you out as a softie), to a Thai restaurant where the other part of our initial “Travel Group 103” was also dining. We have 40 couples in our Travel Group 103, but we were divided up based on the provinces where our children were. We have 15 couples in our group, so they must have 25 couples. Two of the America World Adoption Agency staff are here, Amy Pearson and Anna Nicholaisen. We sat with them and learned that the other part of the travel group has had different experiences. We had been told we would probably have two appointments in our province where we got our child, where we would be asked why we wanted to adopt, did we promise that we would take care of this child and never abandon her, what money do we make, what professions do we have, etc. This was all in the adoption paperwork, so it seemed like unnecessary questioning that we would just have to tolerate. Our group of 15 couples did not have any of that questioning, but the other group did have to go through the questioning in their province.

At the dinner, many of us introduced ourselves to each other. We had communicated by email, having our documents reach China on the same date, knowing we would be traveling together, but several of us ended up being separated except for tonight.

Dinner was pretty good, served similar style to Chinese, with the round tables and central lazy susan. But the food was different, with curry chicken, steak, fried pastries with peanut butter or bananas inside, and vegetables. It was noisy and crowded. With lots of children, we did pretty well as a group. There was a little floor show with singers and dancers. It started out with a long musical call, “Ohhhhhh”…. “Daylight come and me wanna go home.” The famous Harry Bellefonte song in a Thai restaurant. But we knew it was the sentiment we’re all feeling… “I wanna go home.” Amanda loved watching the dancing and singing, raising her hands and waving them along with the music. It gave me a minute to eat.

Back at the hotel, we played with Amanda. We’re trying to get her to crawl, but she doesn’t understand the concept. She spent so much of her time in the walker or her crib, that she apparently didn’t get much floor time. She does roll great, so much so that she fell off the bed a couple nights ago. She loves to walk while hanging onto my hands. We were cruising the halls tonight, Amanda and I, as my back groaned and I tried to think how to invent arm extensions so I could walk more upright. We would encounter fellow travelers, and she would squeal with delight. Once the elevator doors opened to reveal several businessmen, one of whom got out of the elevator. Amanda shrieked a hello, in her usual friendly fashion. I didn’t see if any of them smiled, but often she does get people to smile.

We called Wayne’s dad and sister tonight (their morning). Amanda really enjoyed listening to her Aunt Ginny, smiling and leaning into the phone.

We’re counting down the days til we head for home. We’re basically hanging out waiting for paperwork to be finished. Maggie and Rosa, our guides, will be taking our paperwork to the American Consulate tomorrow. The next day we will have to go to the consulate to “swear” as they say. Someone responded, “I can swear without having to go to the consulate.” We will be asked something like whether we will take care of this child. We were told that basically all we have to say for this consulate appointment is “Yes.” Then we’re free to go shopping or touring. We’re getting a little bored in some ways, although there probably is a fair amount to do if you know what you’re looking for. It’s hard when you don’t speak the language, although many people do speak some English. Yup, “daylight come and me wanna go home.”

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