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.