After a not-so-fun flight from Beijing to Guangzhou (thanks to a whiny, overtired, demanding child, a bumpy, smallish plane, and lack of air conditioning), we made it to the “Flowery City.” Compared to smog-filled, crazy-traffic Beijing, this city is quite literally a breath of fresh air! There really are flowers everywhere along the highways, and the weather has been quite warm and breezy.
When we arrived we were told there would be a lot of traffic on our way to the hotel (and we thought, “Of course there is. Even though it’s 8:30 at night, there must always be traffic!”), but it ended up not being terrible, and ever since then it’s been relatively easy getting around to the various meetings and appointments.
We had medical checks the morning after we arrived. Basically this was like to going to the city health clinic and waiting in a hallway in between shuffling into the various testing rooms. We had been told to expect a wait of about 4 hours, but it was really only a little more than an hour. The sights and smells could have been a little overwhelming to this non-medical-loving girl (me), but the other adoptive families around us stayed upbeat, so I just focused on them.
This was our first opportunity to meet the rest of our travel “group.” (In Beijing, we were the only family adopting through our agency in that province at that time, so we were just on our own with the guide.) Since all adoptive families must spend almost a week in Guangzhou, we expected to be grouped in with several families, as is the norm.
But God in His infinite mercy spared us from having to travel in a herd (which I don’t really like), and orchestrated it so that there was only 1 other family in our “group!” And, to make us all smile, He chose to make that family be from North Carolina! They have been a lot of fun to go around with. All 3 of their biological children came along on the trip, and they have adopted a little 5-year old named Emma (who also has club feet like Jinna!). Jinna and Emma have become good little buddies, and we hope they’ll be able to meet again in the future since we only live a few hours apart.
On Sunday morning we had a nice treat, spending time with some Americans we had met earlier this year! Dave and Darlene are the daughter and son-in-law of friends from church and they have lived in Guangzhou for almost 8 years now. When they came to NC a few months ago we talked about our upcoming trip here and they graciously invited us to be their houseguests. Since we had free nights at the Marriott hotel here, we decided that would probably be the simplest plan (so we could meet up with the guide and group easily), but were happy to at least see Dave and Darlene for a few hours. They told us all about the state of affairs here and how life really is – very interesting on many fronts. It was nice seeing familiar faces and having conversations in English without accompanying charades!
Then in the afternoon we went off for our next big adventure with the “group” --to the Chen Family House, which was a school at one point for the large and prolific Chen family. Now it is open to the public and there are a few shops inside. It was an enjoyable place to just stroll around …. And/or have a few more battle of the wills with our little girl. :)
The next big destination was called the Liwan Market. We had been told it was the place to buy pearls and jade, and I guess I was picturing a small little marketplace with a few vendors. It turned out to be a 5-story, wholesale, very large mall full of just jewelry! It was extremely overwhelming. We were very glad to have our guide with us and she whisked us down to a few specific little shops where we were able to buy, well, pearls and jade. In the pearl shop, there were 3 walls lined with clear plastic bags of strings of pearls, all different shades and quality levels. The women working there pulled out some samples and labeled the prices and then we chose what strings we wanted to make into bracelets or necklaces. After we chose the strands, they handmade the jewelry right in front of us, tying knots after each pearl. (My mother told me once that that is how you know if you have real pearls or fake - -if there are knots in between each one!)
By this point we were all exhausted and were happy to head back to the hotels; we had had enough of using squatty potties for the day!