Today we woke up to another dreary, misty day. Looking out the window, there must have been thirty bicyclists or more on each side of the stoplight, most of them wearing red ponchos because of the rain. They flow like a red river down the wet street when the light turns green. We had not noticed last night in the dark that there is a swimming pool on the rooftop below us a few floors. This is not the weather for swimming, however.
I had thought the guide who picked us up at Chengdu Airport said to be in the lobby at 8:30a.m., but I must have just been nervous, because Aleah told me as we were sitting there that the guide had said 9:30 a.m. We entertained ourselves by going to the hotel's gift shop. The sales girls really give you a sales pitch - it never ends. Whatever you look at, they're going to give you a big discount on if you buy it. Of course, it was all overpriced! We had to laugh when an Australian woman came into the store and said out loud 'I'm just here to look so don't even try to sell me anything!"
Our new guide is very brisk and matter-of-fact. When she arrived she shook my hand, apologized for not being available last night (she sent a substitute), and said "Let's go." The trip to Chengdu was an hour long. She said the orphanage had been moved in 2003 and that it was "beautiful." There were paintings on the walls, and a very loud kindergarten room you could see into from the glass interior window. She took us upstairs and when we came around the corner, there was - Ava! She is so much smaller and more petite than her photos show!! She has a little pixie face, and a little pixie haircut. She was all dressed up, as was Aleah, and was very polite, but very shy. Extremely shy. She answers questions when spoken to but says little else. Aleah got her interested in drawing in the i-pad and Aleah told Ava her drawings were "Beautiful!" Later, the first English word Ava spoke was "Beautiful!" when Aleah showed Ava a drawing she had done. Aleah showed her how to do a "high five." She had a photo album for me, likely taken from the disposable cameras I had sent her. They had photos of her in her foster family's home, where she has lived the past two years. She also had photos of a second foster father - the family before her current one. Several were of her and a little infant, so I am sure she will miss them; however, she has not cried, and if the translator is being honest with me, she said Ava was "a little bit" frightened but still excited to go with us.
The girls watched television together, used their sketch books together, and both ordered huge bowls of noodles for lunch, which they ate with chop sticks. Aleah may have lost her native language, but she can still makea set of chop sticks fly!!
Ava has a bag of clothing, a back pack I sent her that is full of something - I know not what, and the purse I sent her, which also appears to be full. She is very ladylike in appearance, wearing white sandals and a ruffly white shirt and when I pointed that out to Aleah, she said "That's just the opposite of me. Oh well, maybe we can learn from each other!" I will try to upload photos later.
Sorry for the delay in posting - our electrical converter literally "popped" and fried itself (think actual smoke), so when the laptop lost power, I had no way to communicate. Chinese electricity is a deal! Today our new guide called the hotel front desk three times until they finally brought up a converter for me to borrow. We now need to get cameras charged, as they ran out of power, as well.
Hope all is well at home! I need to get off of here and give Ava some attention - just knew everyone was wondering how "Gotcha Day" went. We will return to the orphanage tomorrow to do paperwork. I dread Ava saying her goodbyes!