Monday, March 23, 2009

The final Chapter at least for now...

Yes, Mt. Redoubt did erupt. No that didn't keep us from getting home. They closed down the Anchorage airport but we got up the coast and into Cordova on time. We have unpacked and have the second load of laundry in and some of the stuff we bought taken care of. A friend is cooking dinner for us so that will force us to stay up until 8:00. Tomorrow it's back to school so it will be a while before I get going on the scrapbook pages! It's good to be back home, but we will truly miss China.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Back in the USA

We left Beijing at 8:55 am on Sunday and arrived in Seattle at 8:40 am on Sunday. We're at the hotel and the kids were surprised to see uncle Bud and Aunt Wanda waiting for us in the hotel lobby. Delleen and I have both had showers and the kids are catching a few zzzzzzzzs before we go out in search of pizza and Starbucks! Home tomorrow.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Pictures of our final day in Yangzhou

A couple explanations. The picture of Cadi and Josi with the man in the suit is the Mayor of Yangzhou.
The one of Cadi and a woman in a red sweater is the director of Yangzhou Social Welfare Institute
The one of Cadi and Josi with the man is the plaid shirt is "tall Paul" as we got to call hime. He and his family were on of 3 families from the Netherlands. They were all great people!

Did I tell you I was famous?

I was interviewed for China Daily while we were still in Beijing! We were told there was only one copy of the paper available at the Radisson SAS hotel and it was sent express mail to Yangzhou. When we saw whose picture was on it we gave it to one of them. Today when we checked into the hotel in Beijing the room wasn't clean yet. We went in to store our suitcases and guess what was lying on the desk! A copy of the paper so now we have it!

in Yangzhou I was interviewed by one of the t.v. stations. The woman who interviewed me found me as we were leaving the hotel this morning and said that she would email me a link. Hopefully it will arrive.

i am going to eat a cup of oatmeal for dinner and head to the gift shop for our last shopping experience. I'll try to post pictures from yesterday before I fall into bed...

March 20

March 20, 2009
Our morning started at 9:00 with a boat ride to Slender Lake Park. Everything is so incredibly beautiful in the lake and in the gardens that are in the park. It reminded me of the Classical Chinese Garden in Portland only multiplied hundreds of times! The flowers and tree that were blooming, the architecture, even the sky which was blue after the strong winds of the afternoon before…everything was perfect. We spent most of the morning there and then headed to a building that had many displays about the new and modern development in Yangzhou. At first I thought it would be a questionable, but it was actually interesting and they had great toilets! It’s amazing how much the toilet situation has changed in 10 years! As we lef t each girl was given a stuffed toy. That makes 3 apiece so far to go into the suitcases!

For lunch we went to a famous dumpling restaurant. Oh my so many dumplings and so little space in my stomach! (yeah, I didn’t think you would believe that!) There were probably 10 different kinds of dumplings along with appetizers and soups and rice. After we had been eating for awhile the cooks came out with the ingredients and some of the younger girls made dumplings. They were pretty interesting to look and and not as uniform as the ones made by the cooks!

Then it was on to a different park where we were greeted by on official of “the Party”. He gave a short speech and then presented each of the Yangzhou girls with a beautiful lacquer ware fan shaped picture of a Chinese bridge. I am sure when we get home and count all the gifts the girls received we will be astonished! We spent the next hour and a half shopping in a very interesting section of the city. The four of us were accompanied by 3 people who were constantly there to assist us with translations and safety. In this area we probably gathered the most attention and stares, but for the most part if I smiled at somone or took their picture they would smile broadly. I think we were just such a rare sight that people sometimes just looked at us slacked jawed in amazement.

When we had finished shopping we returned to the hotel to tackle the job of packing. I managed to get everything back into the two suitcases we brought to Yangzhou after throwing away most of the remaining food I brought in case we had a problem finding safe food for Cadi to eat. I have to say that in that regard it has been miraculous. The one night Cadi was feeling ill and she and I didn’t go to dinner was the one night that Delleen found small peanuts in the food. The first day there were peanuts on the table which were removed as soon as I saw then and told the guide and one other time there was a dish that was removed from the table when I showed them my card which states she is allergic to peanuts. Not bad for an 8 day tour in a foreign country!

So with almost everything packed, we headed to the final farewell banquet. This was another emotional time for all of us as we were not only saying goodbye to Yangzhou, but also saying goodbye to friends we had made over the week. Again there were many speeches and some entertainment and so much food that there was no way even half could be consumed. The mayor was there again as well as all the orphanage officials.
As we entered there was a dvd playing which included picture of each day of the trip including today. How they did that I don’t know! Each family was presented with het another gift. This time it was two group pictures taken the day we were at the orphanage as well as the dvd and a scrapbook of some of the pictures that were taken while we were in Yangzhou.

At the end of the celebration one of the nannies who has worked at Yangzhou SWI for over 20 ears spoke about how she had delivered each of our children to us and how she had told the babies that she wished them happy lives and many good wishes and how she was so happy to see all of them again. She wept as she spoke and there wasn’t a dry eye in the entire room. As she left the stage many of us went to her and hugged her and thanked her.

Then it was time to say goodbye to our guide, Vivian, who has watched out for each of us in the green group. How do you thank someone who has totally changed your life? How do you express all the thoughts that are going through your head? So with a hug and many tears we told Vivian and all of our new friends goodbye. Tomorrow we head back to Beijing in little groups. We not all be together again, but we will forever hold so many in our hearts.

MArch 19

March 19, 2009

Today was a much easier day. It was slower paced and it was just a day of fun and not a day of intense emotions. We started our morning at 9:00 and went to a park/zoo that is right behind the orphanage. There were a few of the older kids and nannies there. The zoo is in a beautiful park and the fact that many of the trees were starting to bloom made it seem very far away from Alaska. We walked to the panda exhibit. There is one giant panda and several red pandas. I was so happy there was a panda there for Josi to see since we opted not to go to the zoo in Beijing.

After a short time there we walked to a different park of the park and in a large open grassy area we were entertained by puppeteers, a lion dance and several other dances, and men demonstrating the Chinese yoyo. There was also an elderly man there who had made these remarkable blown sugar lollipops for all of the girls. After those presentations the girls got to go to different areas to try the various activities. Cadi also made a handprint that will be placed someplace in the orphanage along with the handprints of the other girls.

For lunch we were served Yangzhou fried rice and a delicious sweet and sour chicken along with bananas, lychee, and various sweet breads. Then after lunch there was time for the girls to try to fly the kites they received in Beijing as part of their welcome bag.

After this time we made our way to the Beijing Oriental Language school. This school is a boarding school with 3500 students from grades 1 through 12. There we were greated with another program of music, dancing, and an inspirational speech by the principal. He also was one of the torch bearers for the Beijing games and he had the torch he carried so all of the girls got to touch the torch! After the program we were paired up with a student who showed us through various parts of the school. We then met her mother and went home to have time with their family. Their apartment is located in a beautiful park-like setting and the walk through the grounds to get through their building was beautiful. Their apartment is on the 6th floor. I can’t imagine carrying all of my groceries up all those steps. I think Josi said there were 96 stairs! Their apartment is very modern and not at all what I was expecting. It was a very sharp contrast to the apartment Delleen and I visited in Beijing 10 years ago. A volunteer went with us which made the conversation go so much more smoothly. The grandmother was making dumplings for us and we were given a little lesson on how to make the dumplings. She was a very warm and welcoming person and even though we couldn’t speak each other’s language, we communicated fairly well. She was worried that I would be too cold in my short sleeve shirt. Anyway we had the best taking dumplings I have ever eaten and I learned how to fold a dumpling (kind of). We were also treated to some delicious goose and tofu that were prepared in a traditional Yangzhou style. Not sure how they were prepared, but they were delicious! They gave us gifts of a CD of yanzhou music, Chinese flags for the girls and some boxes of sweets. The girls exchanged addresses and I hope we can keep in touch with the family. It was such a nice break to be out of a hotel with a family doing regular family things. At the end of the evening we took pictures and then the dad drove us back to the hotel. It was a great day of fun after our rather draining day yesterday!