Saturday, March 10, 2012

March 9 & 10- To Guangzhou We Go!

You guessed it, today we made our trip to Guangzhou, where we will finalize everything for the boys adoptions and soon be on our way home! We enjoyed our last luxurious Sofitel breakfast and spent a lazy day cleaning (and then re-cleaning) the room as we packed p for our 6:30pm flight. The amazing Angela wooed some unsuspecting lobby worker into changing our checkout time from 12pm to 4pm, thus avoiding an awkward several hours where we had to find a place for us to look inconspicuous. Obviously, we were grateful.

Between turns making noodles and picking up puzzle pieces for the 97th time, Matt and I ran back down to the Muslim quarter to pick up some earrings I decided I needed and have one last round of street food. Of all the Chinese cities I have been to, Xi'an is by far my favorite. Maybe because it is fairly easy to navigate, or the food is good, or the people are friendly, or maybe just because my husband is here now and that makes everything more interesting (stop reading and picture Chinese people seeing his blond dreadlocks.....yeah, you get me). For all of those reasons and more, I will miss being in Xi'an.

Around four, we headed to the airport. For the duration of this post, I want you to keep in mind several things:

-I have borderline severe flight anxiety. Not panic-attack worthy but enough to make me cut off the circulation in the hand of the person next to me and swear at small children who are obviously moving too much and are going to make the plane lose its balance and plummet to the ground. Cue brown paper breathing bag.

-My last in-country flight in China I was dropped of alone in the middle of an airport in which there was nothing but Chinese characters. Noth. Ing. And I had to find my way to Washington, DC from there. I might tend to overdramaticize this story but it really was quite terrifying.

-Earlier in the day we watched a show on Nat Geo channel entitled 'Flight Crash Investigation' or something ominous like that. I am sure that In tiny print underneath, it read- 'Oh, you're flying today? Watch this footage of planes crashing, then move your extra undies to your carryon for when the turbulence hits.' Again, cue brown bag.

I have learned to deal with some of these fears. For example, there are pills that make me not visualize my demise everytime we fly through a cloud. Now, I also have Angela, who not only can read Chinese characters, but has a superhuman ability to make everything easier (ie somehow getting us into a special security line...smooth). As for Nat Geo, I mostly am left thankful that the person whose hand I am squeezing is my husbands. I swear I would drive to China if I could.

All of my fears aside, the flight was, at times, almost enjoyable. My favorite part was, as we took off, seeing Elijah (aisle seat next to Matt and I) realizing what was happening, getting a huge grin on his face and spreading his arms out and flapping them around like he was flying. So precious! Close second goes to hearing Jack, several rows up, called out for Elijah, then starting to serenade the entire flight. Another highlight- Matt's face when realizing that the hot yellow pepper sauce that came with his in flight meal is actually really freaking hot.

So, alas, we did not crash- we will not be the next feature on Air Crash CSI or whatever. The flight was mostly smooth, the boys were well behaved and entertaining, I read Tina Fey's book "Bossypants" in its entirety (so funny) and I am safe in my bed at the Holiday Inn Shifu in Guangzhou. Both of the boys fell asleep in the van on the way here, and were easily transferred to their beds. Someone just brought us a bowl of "welcome fruit"- at 11pm- including a "pig kidney mango"- some kind of local favorite. I will call it the "baby mango" because that's what it is. I would rather eat something called 'baby' than 'pig kidney'. Please check your cannibal jokes at the door.

March 10- Medical Appointments

It's about 11am now, and we have just returned from our medical appointments. All you non-adoption vets out there, this is when you take your child to a clinic in a big city building, they look over their medical files, weigh and measure them, look over immunizations and give any that are missing, and usually administer a tuberculosis test that must be read within the next 72 hours. I think each child's experience at this medical appointment is different- I know that, in some of my brothers and sisters cases it was downright torturous and sent my mom into an advocating-against-vaccination frenzy, and rightly so. Children are just beginning to bond with their parents and are then forced onto cold tables and, more than likely, given shots or some other uncomfortable test. If that doesn't make you question your loyalty to someone you really just met a few days ago, I don't know what will. However, many children take this all in stride and are perfectly fine. We pray this for each adoption.

Needless to say, I totally prepared myself for the worst. While Jack does pretty much everything with a smile and a song, Elijah does pretty much everything with a lot of yelling and kicking. He's a six year old boy with an inherent difficulty to communicate because of his Downes Syndrome, as well as a language barrier, and he definitely gets frustrated. I don't think that I was alone in assuming that getting him to hold still for a TB test was going to be a challenge. Thankfully, I couldn't have been more wrong!

Jack and Elijah were both incredibly obedient and patient in the clinic, listening to all of the doctors and letting them do whatever examinations they needed. Our only hiccup was when Elijah decided that he needed to use the bathroom-Matt took him and let him go in by himself. He came out, washed his hands, walked to the middle of the room and proceeded to drop trou in front of all of the doctors (who laughed, by the way) to show Matt that his pants were wet. Upon further inspection of the bathroom, Matt described the events that must have transpired as "spinning around" and that there was pee virtually everywhere but in the toilet itself. I mean, it could've been the kid before him, right?

Funny anecdote from the clinic- the entire time we were at the clinic (probably an hour or so) there was a team of four or five doctors that were attempting to duct tape a line to mark where people should stand to read an eye chart. Not only was in funny because they were all speaking Chinese loudly to each other (aka sounds like they are all fighting) but it was funny because there were FIVE DOCTORS trying to put a LINE ON THE GROUND. They still hadn't succeeded by the time we left.

Anther highlight from the trip was seeing another adoptive family that is bringing home Joy, another child from Starfish, where Jack was! They recognized each other and were completely adorable in a way that only two and four year olds can be- slapping each other in the face, giggling, and pulling on each others clothes. It was so cute to see this little bond that they had.

Our visit to the medical clinic also further confirmed our suspicions that Angela is, in fact, and international celebrity in hiding. Everyone recognized her, and I think there were even more pictures taken. She really is some kind of super hero!

We are back at the hotel now, and thankful for the Shifu's big rooms and nice views from the windows. Guangzhou, which is in the south east part of China, is noticeably more awesome than the other parts that we have visited. Not only is the sky clear (no really, it actually is- I can even see some kind of mountain range beyond the city, before I couldn't see the third block over) but the city itself looks like some kind of magical forest that decided to grow skyscrapers and overpasses for a while before returning to natural vegetation . There are large trees everywhere, and the sides of roads and ramps are all lined with plants and flowers. All of the balconies and rooftops are brimming with life, and potted plants dot the sidewalks. I am sure that this does not only improve the air quality, but emotional health as well. Big american cities should take notes on this.


Matt and I are currently relaxing in the Shifu's executive lounge- a worth-the-upcharge relaxation oasis with an espresso machine, snacks, and juices as well as couches and TV. In the morning, this transforms into a private breakfast area with a buffet (smaller than the one downstairs for the common folk, but private all the same). At night, a free "happy hour" is available to all executive floor guests including an assortment of snacks and complimentary beverages. This will inevitably amount to a large amount of business execs and pilots getting shwasted, while we sit and eat meat on a stick and sing the ABC's.. Or, as Jack sings them, the ABG's. Regardless, I am more than pumped.

This afternoon, after dad took Elijah out on the town for a little stroll, Matt and I convinced Angela to take us through the nearby pedestrian street and teach us some things about Guangzhou street food. We had some dumplings, egg tarts (like egg custard in a pie shell...nom), bubble tea, and fish balls- spongy round fish-tasting tofu-like balls on a stick that I would rather forget, but I tried, I really did.

Here is a list of the things that we did not (read:will not) taste:

-fried scorpions on a stick. This is not a joke.
-deep fried tarantula. Whole.
-some type of stew made of ALL of a cows innards, chopped, mixed with turnips, and stir fried. Literally everyone was eating this. I could not fathom.
-grilled baby squids, whole, on a stick. This might actually be good but I cannot eat anything if I feel like it's looking at me.

After turning down these very eager venders and walking through the pedestrian streets, we circled around to go through the Pet Market and the Herb Market right in front of our hotel. This was pure torture for me because it's basically aisles of puppies that you aren't allowed to touch because the people selling them are sadists. That's probably not true, I think it's about hygiene and keeping the puppies healthy, but don't they know who I am? I only want to snuggle them! That's snuggle, not smuggle....shhhh.....

The herb market was really interesting, too- mostly because I consider myself fairly educated in herbs and spices, and I have no idea what any of this stuff actually was. I have never seen more types of mushrooms, dried roots, and completely unidentifiable objects that are meant to be ingested in my life. I felt better when Angela explained that they were mostly used for medicine, and that she didn't know what they were either. The venders were especially enthusiastic about their saffron supply- apparently its a very hot commodity here and americans come searching for it.

So, for now, we are all relaxing and waiting for our happy hour spread to begin. We were just brought another plate of fresh fruit, so we are all enjoying some orange sections, distributed by Elijah, while watching Chinese cartoons about a goat named Pleasant and a wolf named.....something menacing I can't remember. This stuff is gold!

I leave you with this joke, courtesy of Tina Fey-
Two peanuts were walking down the street, and one was a salted.


Sent with AGAPE LOVE from my iPad!