Thursday, May 12, 2005

Lessons learned!

Well let me tell you something! I've tried to learn as much as I possibly could while travelling out here and it is obvious to me that I need a few more years time to learn a little bit of the culture, history and its' people! What a fascinating place this is! I absolutely love it. I thought that Florida was a melting pot of people and culture!? Yeah right. I am extremely thankful that I started learning Mandarin! It's taken me to places that I would never have imagined! It makes it much easier to haggle prices with the merchants and to pick up on what is going on around you. Everyone is much more inclined to help you and befriend you. I have been able to help people with their English and they in turn help me with my Chinese pronounciations. Small differences in the inflection and intonation of the words can mean the difference between total disaster/embarassement or total joy and admiration. Please don't try to ask for chicken in Mandarin unless you are extremely sure of yourself lest you ask for a prostitute! I did. Lucky for me, I was speaking to a gentleman who has come to know all of us very well and he simply took me aside and explained my 'small' mistake! We had a good laugh but I considered myself lucky to escape a possible 'problem'. My mother in law and son were with me at that point! We simply explained to them what had just transpired and she just laughed and Dallas looked on rather perplexed. Wear comfortable clothing! It is very hot and humid at this time of year! Waterproof hiking boots/shoes come in handy! Look around as much as you can! Don't focus on just looking ahead of you as you will miss about 80% of what is going on around you, including traffic coming at you from everywhere! Walk around as much as possible and ask many questions. Education, or rather, knowledge is power! Much respect comes with this knowledge also. Try not to come on an adoption trip with small children! They have fun and can tolerate most things but we are all a little strained just a little from the schedule that must be kept every day. The days are long and demanding and the heat doesn't help things much! The food is also something that most kids can't adapt to very well unless you stick to western restaurants, hotels, etc. and even then there are no gaurantees as the cooks are not American. The food is wonderful but different, obviously. If you order chicken (wink, wink), be prepared to find the legs and head in your dish! Just ask my friend from Fiji! Take many pictures and/or keep a journal everyday as you will realize just exactly how much you have done/accomplished and it allows you to streamline yourself better and be more efficient and therefore enjoy everything better. Don't bring a stroller, baby seat, tons of formula and diapers as they are easily found everywhere out here. All that extra stuff will get in the way. Save it for when you actually have the bambino with you and on your trip back! Medicines? Don't really need much! We have been eating virtually everything and drinking everything to no ill effect. No fresh (tap) water though! Washing your mouth with tap water is O.K. as you are not going to swallow it, right? Same thing with showers and pools. Just don't swallow! Fruit? Peel it! If it is already peeled, you are safe. When you are at a western style 4 or 5 star hotel, don't worry about a thing! They are used to it all and can help in ways that you can't imagine! Exchanging money can be an ordeal! Try to do it at the hotel if you can. The airports will con you if you don't use official chanels - ask security to help you out. Gosh, I could go on and on but I am drenched in sweat at the back of a merchants shop here and hungry. Virtually all of the merchants are women! You will find bossman lurking somewhere though! Get to know your local merchant girls well as they will help with money matters, directions, hints, etc. They know more than they let on! That is why brushing up on your Putunghua skills is essential folks! We swear in tomorrow and leave for L.A. later in the evening. This has been a most educational, wonderful, and just plain fun experience that we will definitely undertake again in 2 or 3 years time. What a blessing. The addition of Le Mei to our family has brought us all together in ways that are yet to be described. I will miss this all but look forward to our new beginnings with great anticipation. njm

1 comment:

jake said...

AMAZING! JUST AMAZING!! We can't wait to see you all, and we're so happy you're doing well!

Love, Love
Oh, so you probably won't make it to "China group" tonight, huh? go figure!