Monday, July 12, 2010

Arkansans visit French "Wal-Mart" in China

I’ve been working on a blog post for the past hour or so.  I hit post and something crazy happened.  So, just in case I lost it all, I’m going to try to recreate it again.  HOW FRUSTRATING, but worth it!

The last few days have been such a blur!  I hope a don’t forget details that I will one day want to remember.

Friday evening we flew from Nanning to Guangzhou.  This was Jingshu’s first airplane ride ever.  We wondered if she’d be frightened, or at least apprehensive.  NO.  We had a hard time keeping her close as she wanted to run onto the plane.  The only thing she didn’t like was having to wear a seatbelt.  The most memorable part was when we had a bit of a rough landing, she grabbed the armrests and LAUGHED!  Darrell told his brother that she eats fear for breakfast!  Ha!

We arrived in Guangzhou late and at 11 pm still had not had dinner so we took our family of six down to the cafe in the hotel (the famous White Swan--more about it later).  Three of us ordered “mini meals.”  850 yuan (~$126!!!) later, we knew we had to make a different plan for the next eight days in this hotel! 

We decided that we would go to the breakfast buffet (included with our room rate and definitely not your typical American breakfast buffet because it includes fried noodles, dumplings [McKenna’s favorite], steamed vegetables, cold cuts and cheeses, and salad plus scrambled eggs, made-to-order omelets, bacon, ham, what they call sausage [we call hotdogs], fresh fruit, yoghurt, cereals, pastries, etc.) late in the morning and then eat a late lunch OUT of the hotel and a light dinner in the room, or visa versa.

That’s how we learned about Carrefour.  Saturday morning, after taking Jingshu for her medical exam and TB skin test, we took taxis--it takes two because each only holds three or four people--downtown.  Carrefour is a “hypermarket” according to their website, but it was almost exactly like the Wal-Mart we visited in Nanning.  It is several stories high, except this one goes down into the ground and has almost EVERYTHING.  We even found peanut butter and jelly!  They didn’t have deli meat, like ham and turkey, but they did have more fresh whole (head and feet attached) chickens sitting on ice in the open air than I could count.  And have you ever seen a black-skinned chicken, except on Discovery Channel?  I hadn’t until now.  There was also a large container of live somethings that looked like fat eel to me, but someone said they were catfish.  Let’s just say they didn’t look like any catfish I’d ever seen!  We didn’t buy any of those, but we did buy bread, pb, jelly, chips, fruit, yoghurt, cookies, milk-in-a-box, cereal, juice, bottled water, coke, sprite, a block of cheddar cheese, these weird jello-in-a-pouch-with-chunks things that Jingshu likes, and noodle meals.  Think Ramen on steroids.  They are larger and come in a container with dried vegetables and seasonings so you just have to add boiling water.  Our rooms have a small refrigerator and a hot pot for boiling water.  No microwave.  We left there having only spent 365 yuan (~$54) with enough for several meals and snacks.  MUCH better plan!

Sunday we went to the Toy Wholesale Center with the Humphries, Howard and Kim and their three China girls (we wrote about them earlier).  This place is HUGE and has EVERYTHING, except food!  Two towers with six stories each, plus one underground.  People from around the world come here to “go to market” and it made me think of Tracee Harrison, who goes to market for their Cornerstone Pharmacy.  We met a lady from Ghana who comes several times a year.  Darrell, the boys, and Jingshu shopped for a bit before heading back to the hotel.  McKenna and I stayed with the Humphries, and even a bit longer, after they decided to leave.  We were there for about four hours and only saw the first two floors of one tower!  The biggest adventure of the day came when we spent ONE HOUR trying to get a taxi to bring us back to the White Swan.  I won’t soon forget McKenna and I going from one corner of this HUGE intersection, to the other, to the other, and some spots in between, trying to hail a taxi.  I held the stroller and our bags while she would run from taxi to taxi seeing if they were empty and if they were, if they would take us to our hotel.  (That's how it is done here.) A few did not want to drive that far because they can make more money on more frequent, shorter trips.  The lady from Ghana told us this is normal at that time of day.  I was so thankful for her!  She spoke English and gave me hope that we’d eventually make it.  And, we did!  I LOVE my non-drama-queen girl who made that time a fun memory instead of a crisis!

This morning, after taking Jingshu back to the medical center to check her TB test (which was negative, thankfully!), I took her to the Swan Room, a playroom on the first floor of the hotel set up by Mattel for adoptive families to use while here.  We’d originally planned to make it a family event, but Darrell suggested that it be a special time just for us.  I’m so glad he did!  For a while, she only wanted to play by herself and yelled at me if I tried to interact with her.  But eventually, she did invite me in.  She likes to work on projects, and so do I, so we put together a huge foam floor puzzle.  And then we pushed stuffed animals around on riding toys.  She would take my hands and put them right where she wanted them--either on the backs of the stuffed animals or on the handle bars of the riding toy.  It was fun to see how she was able to communicate with me, even though we don’t speak the same language. 

When it was time to go, we held hands and skipped down the hall.  Right up until she let go and took off running as fast as she could and got into an elevator.  I was just barely able to make it in before the doors closed!  I really think this was her way of distancing herself again.  I wonder if she feels disloyal to her foster mom, whom she loves dearly, when she has fun with me.  There are several families here adopting their second, third, and even fourth children.  They give me such hope and encouragement with their stories of similar experiences.  I am so thankful that God has provided community, even on the other side of the world.

While Jingshu napped, the kids and I loaded up all our dirty clothes and took it to one of the many places that offer laundry service near the hotel.  We took 26 shirts, 26 pairs of underwear, 10 children’s clothing items, 8 shorts, 8 pairs of socks, 5 undershirts, 3 dresses, and 1 nightgown.  The total cost:  $30.  Can you imagine how long it would take to hand wash, and even more, how long it would take to dry all of that in the 74% humidity?  And can you imagine the site of all of that laundry hanging around these two relatively small hotel rooms?  HA!

Logan and I got to do some shopping in the little shops on the island this afternoon, just the two of us.  I have really missed one-to-one time with him!  He worked so hard early this summer to earn money for this trip and he came with a few things in mind that he really wanted.  He found them today, but at one point had tears in his eyes because he was afraid he wouldn’t have enough money left to buy nice gifts for the people on his list.  After some good bargaining, he had plenty to do both.  Just wait ‘til you see what he bought today!  I SO love that boy!

Darrell and Parker didn’t feel well today, so they stayed in the rooms and rested so that they felt up to meeting some new friends for dinner.  Matt and Sheri Smith are here adopting Li Na, a four year old girl.  They also have three other children, two sons and a daughter.  Li Na and Jingshu have become fast friends!  The Smiths are having similar trouble (even harder) with Li Na rejecting Matt.  We talk about strategies, things we’ve read, things we’ve heard, what works and doesn’t, and what we believe, but mostly just support each other.  Again, I’m thankful for community!

We ate at Lucy’s, a place that comes highly recommended by the seasoned veterans and newbies, alike.  Lucy’s serves western food, like chicken tenders and french fries, onion rings, milk shakes, pasta, and hamburgers.  McKenna was MOST excited because our guide told us today that she like the large lemon drink and we assumed she meant lemonade.  That’s the thing McKenna is missing most from home right now, except for friends, of course.  Well, it was actually their version of iced tea.  It was served in a large jar (southern style) with a small pitcher of simple syrup (sugar and water) for sweetening, and several slices of lemon.  It tasted like instant Nestea!  And it was yucky!  But everything else was good, and she liked the cheesecake, another of her favorite things.

Tomorrow we will join the Smiths again, and go to a safari park.  I’ve heard that we’ll get to hold a baby tiger and see pandas.  We’ll take some pictures and write some commentary, I’m sure!


Karen said...

What a busy day! i love your updates and look forward to them every day. I miss all the precious Adcock's.

Jeanne said...

One day at a time. Sounds like you are doing a little better. Cannot wait to see you. Keep writing. Feels like we are there!

Alison Burrell said...

I'm with Karen, reading the updates are a highlight of my day! So excited to see how God is working across the world in the Adcock family!