Travel 06/22/2011

Keith reporting:
American Hillbilly in China

Ok, I realize that if someone from China came into any establishment in Manchester, Tennessee, that we would not have any idea what they were saying when trying to order anything. But this is Guangzhou, China, a tropical destination where thousands of Americans pass through each year as they complete the blessing that is the adoption process (the U.S. Consulate is located here, where all adoptees get their immigration approved). So why do I appear to be from another planet when trying to order food for my family? I have tried all the standard ways of speaking to someone in another language. You know, talking reallllly slowly, loudly, ENUNCIATING my best hillbilly English, all to no avail. I try ordering coke (CO KA CO LA), even making like I am holding a can, making a pssst sound as I pretend to open it, then turning it up to drink it. (At one meal they acted like they understood Coke, but then brought out Pepsi. Made me laugh and think about the old Saturday Night Live routine, No Coke. Pepsi.) But tonight I finally figured it out. I took pictures of everything we successfully ordered, and plan to show them at the next restaurant. Hillbilly ingenuity at its finest! One more note on ordering food. As I said, I’ve barely made a passing grade at getting something acceptable for my family. Last night I ordered a barbecue plate of four or five (not sure) separate meats, none of which I could identify. This from a place that specialized in snake, bowls full of chicken feet, and several other menu items that I hope to one day erase from my memory. I tried all of it, but will always wonder what I ate.

On to today. We slept in, and finally woke Karis up after an eleven hour slumber. Sure hope this continues. We went to the swimming pool after breakfast and played in what at times became a downpour. After adjusting to something new, Karis had a great time. Kasen, fish that she is, loved it too. The Chinese attendants wondered what the crazy Americans were doing in the pouring rain, and even brought umbrellas and held them over us when we got out of the water. They even walked beside us covering us with the umbrellas all the way back to the entrance to the hotel. Wish I had a picture of that.

We went to Starbucks for lunch, then headed out for another appointment. Karis had her passport photo made, and we received an official looking document recognizing the adoption by the Chinese government. We headed back to the hotel, where daddy went for a painful paperwork appointment while the girls all went to the Swan Room, a wonderful toy room we first experienced with Kasen over six years ago. We met back up and went to dinner at Lucy’s Diner (very American, with Chinese dishes in addition to burgers, steaks and fries). It was our fourth visit there in four days, and has become mandatory for Kasen after each torturous evening of daddy trying to order at a real Chinese restaurant.

Karis continues to warm up to us a little at a time, but has also exhibited the ability to burst eardrums with her unhappy moments. Its very normal for these children as they are thrust into a world so different from anything they could have imagined. We have seen far worse in some of the other babies in the hotel. She and Kasen are the closest as we imagined it would be. Kasen is making the trip so much easier on us that other families would like to borrow her for some relief. What an unbelievable big sister she is.

Its 9:00pm here, and Karis is finally asleep for the night. We woke her after only a 30 minute nap today, which was bad for all of us. We must do a better job of getting her and daddy their naps in the middle of the day.

One final side note on our writings. We cannot successfully use apostrophes in our words, as they substitute crazy symbols and letters in their place. So if you wonder why we use such formalities, or occasionally leave out apostrophes, or even see crazy symbols where we forgot to take one out, now you know why.

Thanks again for writing to us in our guestbook. We look at it several times each day. Talk to you soon.