WOW. We got through our first week of teaching: crazy schedule changes, room changes, cockroaches, buckets of sweat, and all! :-P My poor roomie got sick, but she’s dosing up on Zinc, Airborne, and vitamines and feels like she’s beating back whatever is trying to grab hold of her! (One of her students sneezed directly into her face….Ever the teacher, she turned it into a “here’s how you cover your mouth next time that happens” lesson). Thankfully, my sore throat went away, and I feel fairly healthy. Thanks for all your prayers!!
We were given pizza on Thursday at dinner–OK, I NEVER EVER eat Pizza Hut pizza at home, but it tasted AMAZING. I was thrilled to see it. There are 5 other vegetarians on the trip (2 of them for religious reasons, and one vegan), so we’ve been accommodated beautifully. They even ordered veggie pizza for us, and it came with corn, pineapple, and mushrooms on top! :) It was pretty interesting. I loved it.
I’m learning new ways to deal with the heat. I’ve purchased a lovely little hand towel with stars and Mickey Mouse on it for about 20 cents. It goes EVERYwhere with me when I teach, and carries the fond nick name “Sweat Rag”. LOL. Several of us have these. One of the poor guys on my team literally turns into a fountain every day, with his entire shirt turning transparent. One phenomenal luxury is to take a bottle of Coke and chill it in the freezer, then forget about it over night. It turns into a Coca Cola Slushy!!! It tasted like heaven.
Oh! My roomie and I got to change rooms…so, our toilet works, our bathroom is a tolerable temperature, and we were able to douse it in buggie spray before we moved all our stuff in. There are still unwelcome guests, of the six legged variety, but we’re dealing. Oh! and 100% DEET is amazing. My roomie and I use it day and night, and we’re the only 2 people so far without bug bites. We’re also the most paranoid about getting bitten, so I suppose that helps.
We found a very upscale outdoor mall that looks like the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica. It has amazing, interesting stores. There is SO much Olympics paraphernalia! It’s really an enormous event here (2008). We accidentally stayed too late (me and 3 other girls), and ended up walking back about a mile or two by ourselves. NOT smart and NOT cool. We were speed walking and dialoguing about how to fight off any attackers should we encounter any. Thankfully (our guardian angels must’ve been working overtime), we did NOT encounter any threats, and we arrived quickly (and dripping in sweat, of course) back at our school. One good thing for us is that DongGuan is NOT a touristy area. In fact, we seem to be the only tourists in this area. So, there are fewer people to prey on tourists, I think. I DON’T want to test that theory again, though!
Friday night, our hosts took all 30 of us out to dinner at a restaurant that has 800 rooms and that requires reservations weeks in advance b/c of its popularity. The food was indescribably delicious. My table was for vegetarians, and we had 10 distinct dishes, all beautifully prepared, delicious, and different. One yummy one was “Squirrel Fish”….the fish was cut to look like a squirrel’s tale (it looked like a big Pine Cone to me), tempura fried, and then covered in a light sweet and sour sauce. WOW. There was also a sort of tofu that I fell in love with and could have eaten pounds of–it was 2 inch long pieces of a sort of tofu strudel…tiny, thin layers of tofu with a wonderful salty, savory topping and light sauce. Incredible texture. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Lots of veggie dishes too! mmmmmm.
Chinese beer is yummy too. I tried it, and it tastes like pears, and is extremely light. As you all know, I HATE BEER, but this stuff tasted wonderful. Our hosts kept toasting us with it!
Then, half of us went with our hosts to an incredibly upscale karaoke club. We had a private room with beautiful couches, crystal trays of fresh cut fruit, and 4 staff members hovering over us at all times. I was so happy with my group’s response. We all just belted out every song we knew, danced, and laughed and cheered when our hosts sang. Everything was clean (like a very nice, American hotel) and so comfortable. At the end of the night, our hosts invited our entire group back to the school to teach next year. Very kind.
Today, we visited the TWO THOUSAND YEAR OLD TOMB of a Nanyue King in Guangzhou City (I’m told this is the captital of the Guandong Province). The king wore a jade shroud sewn with silk thread. Amazingly beautiful. He was buried with all sorts of treasures that were extraordinary. It’s pretty humbling to be in the presence of something made in 129 BC.
Then, we went to the center of the city, to a crazy shopping center….Very similar to the Philippines markets–upscale apartments alongside unlivable shanty towns (housing families with tiny, tiny children), upscale stores, and tiny stalls….all in a crazy, chaotic, exciting mess! Oh yes, and I ATE MCDONALD’S food!!??!!! Ummm, yeah, for those who know me, you know that I don’t eat there. :) It tasted like the best food ever. LOL.
There are beggars here with the most horrific problems that I’ve ever seen–I’ve already seen 2 men, obviously at least in their 30s, who have torsos the size of a toddler’s, their backs curved into a C shape, and then normal, adult sized arms and legs. It’s so very sad…I don’t even know what it’s caused by. I’m going to rearrange my money so that I can give them something easily instead of having to pull out my wallet and make myself vulnerable to pickpockets, etc. They sit on the street and smile energetically at us as we walk past. One was even dressed in a button down, collared shirt. I wish we could scoop them all up and take them home so they don’t have to sit there. I haven’t seen any kids begging yet, but apparently that’s a huge thing in Beijing, where we’ll be in 2 weeks.
Love you all, Thanks for putting up with my ramblings.