Sunday, March 28, 2010

Back to the food...

The various dishes are chosen by the host....sometimes we play a part in the choices. The server starts bringing the bowls, platters and baskets filled with food. There is often a whole fish, several kinds of vegetables, pork, chicken, beef and occasionally frog. It is good when someone can identify what it is that you are eating! Some dishes are very spicy..made with red/green peppers. You NEVER eat the peppers, although someone usually does and is sorry for it!
At one very formal dinner we were served a chicken dish with the chicken's comb and feet.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Just a short funny story here...We five women had been dropped off at a huge supermarket by Ethan. Shopping for water, crackers etc...with the idea we would take a taxi back to our hotel.
There was a book display set up in the entrance and we began looking at all these books written in Chinese, of course....Found a nice children's book written in Chinese and English. I wanted three and the others wanted some but there were only five. The young man behind the table did not understand English .....all of a sudden was this nicely dressed (suit/wool coat/scarf) standing there helping us...I thought he was another customer..turns out he is the owner and a university professor ...he said he would have more books in the next couple of days.
We inquired on calling a taxi and he said he would take us to our hotel..that he had a van!
We said OK....and thought this was a grand gesture! Another Chinese experience...When we got out to the parking was a big van but just had seating for 2 in the back and the passenger seat was filled with stacks of books as was the back....he worked hard rearranging to empty the seats..showing good humor all the time and of course we were getting a kick out of it also....we took pictures.
Three of us got seats and Diane and Bonnie P sat on piles of books!

His name is Mark and he is so nice..married with a nine year old son. My nine year old grandson, Jack has expressed an interest in a Chinese pen pal so I may try to bring them together....
Another adventure in China!
After the presentation of Heidi's, we passed out bags of personal care products and visited with the women and admired the children which was not hard to do. Some of them we remembered from last year....Mothers are the same throughout the world...the pride on their faces when we say pretty or want to take a photo shines like the sun~
We sang songs to them and with them...sometimes if the melody was familiar to them they sang back to us. It was beautiful. These trips are not all about doing things for them or giving them things. It is forming relationships and memories that go beyond what our political leaders can do. When I am smiling and singing - I wonder...will that child watching me someday be in a leadership position and remember the friendly and kind Americans that visited his school? One never knows.
Then came one of the highlights of my travels......The political leaders of this area stepped forward with much formality and spoke in Chinese to Heidi and began a ceremony presenting us with beautiful handmade scrolls for our service to them over the past few years. The scrolls will become heirlooms in our families, I am sure.
I so wish I had the capability of posting photos. We were all so touched by this gift. This village is so poor that there are not words and here they did this for us. There were many tears.
Over the years our group has done a lot of fundraising plus personal contributions to give the school playground equipment, teacher desks, books, keyboards, student tables/desks/ basketball courts, schoolbags, school supplies and more.

After much picture taking, we were taken to a local place to eat....I just gulped when I saw the place and realized I needed to make nice and not offend them by not eating. There was a girl in the corner of a room washing chopsticks in one of those pails on wheels that you see janitors using when mopping floors. The water was filthy and sure enough when she came to our tables a few minutes later she placed a set by each of our plates, still wet. My little plate was soiled.

I need to explain here.....In China the meals are served family style with the various dishes placed on a large lazy susan in the center of a large round table. There is room around the edges for your small tea cup, water glass and small plate-saucer sized. The servers bring out huge platters of food...huge bowls, earthen bowls, is very interesting to see the various presentations.
There are no serving utensils...people use their chopsticks to take what they want ...they eat off their chopsticks and place it right back in the would be like us eating off our fork and using it to take more food out of the serving dish...more later
Hi, Thanks for writing. We sure had a full week-end here at this pretty nice hotel with the 10 homeless was hard to say good by to them. There was one boy named Steve....a dear boy...possibly autistic...also physically handicapped..he just won my artistic...his ears looked terrible...scabby, sores...kind of mishappen...his teacher told me they had been frozen...most of these kids were thrown away and found on the streets...beaten...
Tomorrow morning we check out of here and go back to the first hotel we were at in downtown Beijing. We will be shopping tomorrow and going to the Chinese Acrobats in the evening.
Tuesday we will visit two migrant workers children's schools..around 750 children

Yes, I am looking forward to being home. I miss everyone.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The train ride here was just as I thought it would be...long and uncomforatble ..13 hours. Your seat consists of a small cot...six very narrow cots three high with no room for luggage except under the lower bunk ...the floor is very dirty. There is a small table that will hold a small amount...perhaps a few snack items. this room is shared with anyone that has that ticket. Luckily, no one else came this time...

I will just say the bathroom is such that most of us cut off drinking the evening before!

The hotel here is quite decent and on a major street. My room looks out over the street and I have large windows that draw me...The scene below is awesome...hundreds of people on bicycles moving swiftly and silently. I look out over an intersection and to see dozens of riders turning the corner is beautiful!
As the day goes on there are many cars, cabs...honking away. There is music played in the streets.
In this province when we go somewhere the government men provide us with transportation. The various cars or vans are not in the best of condition. Sometimes the driver has a seatbelt but none of the passengers.
We are taken over an hour away to a community hall where the women of the area are gathered to hear Heidi give a lesson on handwashing to prevent spreading of disease and also to cough or blow your nose into piece of fabric....there are not tissues for these people because of the cost.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Hi, Just a short note....I am so exhausted and just need to get to bed. It is 10 30...last night was our night on the train and very little/poor sleep....we arrived back in Beijing around 8 30 this am and rushed to this hotel about an hour from Beijing...we are doing work here with 10 orphan/homeless kids...8 boys, two girls ages 12-15. If I had $$$ I would be bringing them home with me....each one is sweeter than the next and what stories their lives have been....they live in a place where often there is no money for food - so they are told this is a fasting is horrible. You should see how they scarfed up the food and water tonight. We will be together until Sunday night and by that time I will really be in a pile of mush. They are very polite...2 cannot see well but no money for glasses. One is somewhat crippled and his name is Steve.
I will write more in the morning....these beds are literally boards with a sheet...I don't know what the others are going to do as they have all had a rough time with the hard mattresses but it hasn't bothered me...I think tonight it will.

This computer has been working grand...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hi, Got here after midnight from the train ride...Not much fun on that train...and it was during the day...going back Thursday night will be worse as you need to try and sleep.
Today was a meeting about all that is happening the next two days here...packing up the care bags, etc.
Also some jewelry shopping at the nice market here. I bought a few very nice pieces of jewelry.

Ethan and Heidi's friend took all of us out to a nice restaurant and again, I tried nearly everything that was put before me..and even took seconds of some items!

The computer is working wonderful...I cannot imagine not having it~It really helps...a couple of the others have been using it every day and the others once in a while. I am happy to share it with them.

It is midnight...I need to get ready for sleep. The government workers are picking us up at 8:30 and we have a full day...a very full day~