Today is our last day in Guangzhou! Our guide, John, will meet us in the lobby at 6:00 a.m. to take us to the airport. I do not look forward to the travel time (over 24 hours), but do look forward to seeing familiar places and people once again. Last night Aleah said "I miss the kids" (my grandchildren), So do I!!! It will be so good to see everyone again and some wide open spaces!!
Our only stipulation today was to be in our hotel room at 5:00 for delivery of the adoption packet that will make Ava an American citizen upon its opening in Chicago, as well as her passport, complete with visa stamp allowing her to enter the U.S. John and I have instructed her on the length of time it will take to get there, but how can anyone really prepare for so long a journey?
On the way here, I tried to stay awake to acclimate myself to China's time before I arrived. (They are 13 hours ahead of us.) I got claustrophobic from being confined for over 13 horus in an airplane seat. I may sleep this time to avoid the claustrophobia and deall with the jet lag after I arrive!
The girls played hacky sack in a beautiful courtyard this afternoon, after Aleah first shopped for souvenirs for her friends. Ava bought some food at a little convenience shop that has a Subway located inside. (As in the sandwich shop.) We could have chosen Pringles, Oreos, Lay's Potato Chips and many other familiar brands. Aleah has stocked up on the Chinese cookies she loves so well! We have a 44 lb. per piece of luggage weight limit in China, so I don't know how this is all going to work. Tonight, we pack!
I visited a bank one last time. Before I could even speak, the Chinese "host" asked me in English "Change money?" I said yes, and he printed out my ticket to wait in line. Either they didn't call it in English, or I wasn't paying attention, because he came back later and said they had passed my number. He escorted me to a window very politely. I am grateful for the amount of English many of the Chinese people speak. John said even the small schools try to have an English teacher, more than one if they can afford it. Ava said they have an English teacher in her school, and he talks a lot, but they can't understand him!
We ate at Lucy's one more time. Ava got what she ordered this time and seemed happy. I ordered "lemon tea" and they brought it in a Ball wide mouth quart canning jar!! It had a whole lemon sliced in it, which Aleah ate, slice by slice. Ava enjoyed her facial contortions!
Once back at the hotel, they pushed each other back and forth for the best view of the TV (playfully and with lots of laughter). Right now, they are watching 'Open Season' in English with Chinese subtitles. Last night they watched 'Big Momma II." Ava likes comedy!
John has been an excellent guide. He sees to the smallest details - how much to tip the bellboys, the driver, tries to steer us in safe directions (like not using the subway), giving us a walking tour of the island, and through the markets to the shopping areas, and generally giving me the most information about Ava I have obtained since being here. He said he likes his job, which is uniting families. I know when he is not with us, he is escorting other families to their children.
A very friendly shopkeeper asked me if I had previously been here to adopt Aleah and was here this time to adopt Ava. I was surprised she could tell this. She asked me if I remembered when the White Swan was open and all the little shops in the area, many of which have closed. I saw a big gold padlock on one shop door, and she said another shop is due to close in another month. I would guess they will reopen when the White Swan does; however, with the recession in the U.S., and the Chinese becoming more affluent, I don't know if foreign adoptions will continue at the same rate.
The Chinese sure know how to sell! They stand in their doorways and clap, or dress in formal attire, or have employees chanting outside and singing, or just call out to invite you in, telling you they will give you a good bargain. At the store near the Mariott, I was looking at fans on a low shelf and the shopkeeper brought me a chair to sit on. When she saw Aleah scratching at her mosquitoe bites, she brought out medicine and treated them. She would say "For you, I will give good deal" every little whipstitch. Ava has no interest in the "traditional" Chinese items, preferring more modern ones instead. I suppose that is always typical of teenagers and she is now thirteen! I was surprised to see a stone carving of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus in one store, and of the martyred Christ in another. A small sign that Christianity is making inroads in China?
I was mistaken when I wrote that the family from St. Louis was adopting from a primarily Muslim province. It was not a province at all, but a sort of suburb area of Guangzhou that is primarily Muslim.
I will close this and begin packing. Hopefully my next post about Ava will be from home!!
Greetings from Guangzhou China!!