Thursday, April 1, 2010
April 1st, 2010
Today we went to the Guangzhou Zoo with the kids. The weather was hot, and it was not too far from the hotel. We took a taxi there, and the taxi was only 11 Yuan (which is less than $2.00). We have found that things are inexpensive here, with the exception of wine, which costs triple U.S. prices. The admission for all five us at the Zoo was 60 Yuan, or less than $10 total. The zoo was larger than we expected and much cleaner and nicer. The only disappointment is that the panda cage was undergoing renovations, and the pandas must have been moved to another zoo during construction. Darn; we are in China, home of the pandas, and we didn’t get to see them. Overall, though, we had a great morning. I took over 150 photos, and most of them were of the kids. I even took photos of a school group that was visiting the zoo. The school must have been a special “English School” because the Chinese teachers (and one American college-aged kid) were trying to get the children to say things in English. For example, I was standing nearby with a camera, and the teacher told the students, in English, “Say hi to Auntie.” And then all the children (maybe 5 years old) said, “Hi, Auntie!” to me. I responded, “Hello.” The American student-teacher was playing “Straw, straw, straw, Go!” with the children. Notice, he used the word “Go”, and not "shoot," as they would use in the U.S. It must be a weapon thing. Anyway, the kids were all very cute. The school children were dressed in several layers of clothing, which is typical of children in China. For some reason, it is customary here to bundle children up, no matter what the weather. It was 81 degrees, and the kids had on t-shirts, long sleeved-shirts, and then sweater vests on top. Tucked into the back of their outfits, by the back of the children’s necks, they had bibs draped. Basically, it looked like a there was a big rag, tucked into their clothes to absorb the dripping sweat! We did reach one important milestone today at the zoo; Ben told Connor, in Chinese, that he loved him. It was when Connor was carrying him piggy-back through the zoo. As I mentioned before, Ben often asks to be carried now. This is quite a change from when we first met Ben. The first few days we would pick him up to go down the long flights of stairs (down to the subway) and he acted like he just hated to be carried. He held himself stiffly and struggled to get down. He can’t yet alternate his feet when walking downstairs, so in Beijing we carried him downstairs and through the city crowds, despite his protestations. Now, he often asks to be carried; or at the very least he will come up and take one of our hands. He also will now walk around without shoes sometimes. The first week, both Ben and John insisted on wearing shoes 100% of the time; they wouldn’t even go to the bathroom in the middle of the night without putting on their shoes first. Another difference we have noticed is that now Ben will physically go after Connor sometimes. It’s hysterical to watch. We can’t help but crack up when we see this tiny little guy hurl himself at Connor, fists flailing, yelling at Connor in Chinese, when he doesn't get his own way. Connor and Ben are already very close and it’s gratifying to see. John stands separate and just rolls his eyes. He’s a typical teenager. We gave our guide the list of things Connor wanted to see in Guangzhou, and asked her to ask John which of these sights he would like to visit. Of course, he wasn’t interested in seeing anything. He wanted to go swim in the pool, and that is not an option because it doesn’t open for another few weeks. The zoo received a resounding "No" from John, but since there wasn’t anything else he wanted to do, we decided to go anyway. We knew Ben would enjoy the zoo. After the zoo, we sat around the hotel room waiting for our guide to bring us the boys’ passports with their visas stamped. Tomorrow evening, we have to go through the “non-resident” line at the airport in New York, and then apply for U.S. passports for them later. We are thrilled to be finally going home, but I’ll bet the boys are extremely nervous. I can’t imagine how scary it must be to know that you are leaving your country forever, to live with a foreign family. Our guide brought us the boys’ passports at 4p, with the IH-3 visa inside. We found out that the US Consulate has issued well over 100,000 (wow!!) visas to Chinese children adopted by US citizens since the late 1980’s. Holy Cow!