Friday started off very slow, intentionally. We knew it was going to be tight at the end of the day so we stayed close to the hotel. We checked out around 2:00 and hung out in the hotel lobby/coffee bar. Syriana was on the TV (NOT LITTLE KID APPROPRIATE!!!) David had been talking to Aaron throughout the day and things were looking fairly good. At 3:00 we got the call the passport would be ready. At 4:05 we got a call that we would need to take a taxi to essentially the county sheriff's office to finalize the passport process. The challenge is that it closes at 4:30 but Aaron wouldn't have time to get the "almost" passport from the local police, get to us and then turn around to get to the sheriff's office by 4:30.
Here is where the hell began:
- 4:10 Bell boy called a taxi - we got in and it seemed to take forever to get teh luggage in the cab. Aaron said we were close to the office - that it would only be about $2-3 in fare - so I didn't push (or scream - which come to think of it I haven't seen anyone do here).
- 4:15 - We are smack dab in the middle of rush hour traffic. The taxi driver seems to be listening to the equivalent of the KQ morning talk show. A lot of attitude. He seems unphased by it all - my stress starts building.
- 4:20 - Still not there and many signs are in English and Mandarin. I'm not seeing anything close to Government services on any of them. Even in China you can tell the difference between a business building and a gov't building - like you can in the US. Nothing is looking even vaguely close.
- 4:22 - I call Aaron to let him know what is happening praying that our taxi clock is running fast. It wasn't. Aaron asks to speak to the driver - the driver waves his hand in one direction trying to tell me something but I don't understand. I hand David all of Ruth's paperwork, the money and he has Ruth in his lap. We agree he'll take off like a shot once the taxi stops and I'll take care of paying. The driver hands back the phone to me and it looks like Aaron is still on but I can't hear him. I fear this means we're too late. That would have meant we needed to add on 3-5 days to our trip. NOT GOOD.
- 4:28 The driver pulls in front of hotel. This is where I swear. David looks behind us and that is where the sheriff's office is - he takes off with Ruth and the paperwork. I quickly pay the driver and grab our other bags including two roller bags and RUN. I charge through the door at 4:29.
- We made it in the door but the attendant is adament that she is closing her door at 4:30. We quickly sign the papework, show our passports. Aaron graciously thanks her as he grabs Ruth's passport. I nearly pass out.
Then we are flying down the highway to make the flight. Poor Ruth who has only had one of her three hour nap, knows us enough to know we are very stressed, on top of rush hour traffic - finally loses it. She just starts crying non-stop and I can't blame her. David and Aaron are talking back and forth very quickly to ensure the airline has her passport number because without it it may appear that we are traffiking her. Aaron is frustrated as China offices are closing and US offices haven't opened. David is frustrated because this is increcibly stressful. Ruth and I just rock back and forth. Eventually the airline situation is resolved, Ruth settles - and I want a beer.
After all of this - we are waiting in the airport for 3 hours for our flight with a preschooler who hasn't really napped and no decent dinner. All of the stores in the airport just sell ramen noodles and beer - not a sandwich or bowl of soup to be found. Then, a thunderstorm hits and the ones that have gone through Beijing are very present in my mind. There is another mother there who is Chinese also with a daughter. I decide she will be my gauge about whether or not to flip out about the weather as the airport is mostly glass (walls and ceiling). She cautiously looks at the weather but stays seated and doesn't say anything to her husband. I figure we're ok at least for the time being.
In the end, the flight does leave just a bit late but all 3 of us are seated together. Ruth does EXCELLENTLY for what must be a very trying time. She looks at us as the cabin pressure changes but doesn't say anything and then goes to sleep. We land at midnight, grab our bags and then our driver takes us the 30 minutes to our hotel. I'm so worn out by this point that when we get out I forget two bags, including teh one with all of our money in it. The driver graciously grabs it and we check in and go to sleep.
The next morning, we visit teh doctor's office and that all goes well. We also make the final large-ish payment. Then it is back to the hotel and all of take a VERY LONG nap.
Today (Sunday) we had a lazy day. David and Ruth went for several walks and swam in the rooftop pool. I am recovering from a cold so stayed in the room most of the day. We went for a walk tonight and had dinner at an American diner. The walk there had many British/Chinese sculptures/statues and we took a number of pictures. Ruth also, for the first time, chose to play at a playground nearby.
Ruth is also practicing what David calls "Chin-glish" and I'll let him write about that as my time is nearly up.
Overall we are enjoying ourselves but are also looking forward to coming home.
Peace & Love to all,
Hi, everyone, David here. I would like to let the record indicate that Avisia has never needed a gauge as to when to flip out. Whatever trips her trigger, that's what did it. Whatever.
I would also like the record to indicate that I have no complaints about this trip. None. Not one. I had a day when I had my own version of a cold. I went to bed early. I had a day when I was "fed up" with being a foreigner. I read my book.
Family unity is important to me, and I don't like airing laundry. Not mine, not Avisia's not anyone's. But I will register a note of dissent with my lovely wife. Aaron had the situation well in hand, and he did what needed to be done. Our job was to stay calm. I'm not so sure we held up our end of the bargain.
Ruth is experimenting with English, and she's doing what I've heard called "Chinglish": a mixture of Chinese and English in the same expression (sentence, phrase, what have you). She's also trying out English words ("Hello", "Bye bye", counting to 5) with her Chinese pronunciation. As a linguist, it's fascinating. I have a recording of her I'm going to send to some of my old professors at the U.
Time for bed.