I apologize for not updating you in several days. Mommy had to go into survival mode as Grace decided that sleep at night was optional. I napped when she did. We seem to have found a good routine for getting to sleep now, it still involves crying. But, we have had 10 hours of sleep for the last two nights...yay!
We are now in Guangzhou, Guangdong province. More about that in a minute.
We traveled yesterday morning to the airport, and stopped to do a little sightseeing on the way at a park on the Yellow River. When you look at the photos, notice the rafts that you could ride made of dried, inflated sheep skins and bamboo. Joel was disappointed that we didn't have time to try it out. These rafts are one of many Muslim influences in Grace's home province. There is a large Muslim population, and that is reflected in many things including the local cuisine. There is a distinct flavor and smell to Lanzhou food. It often includes cinnamon, which surprised me. But, where we use it in baking, they use it in beef broths, very tasty. There is also a nice tea that I tried called San PaoTi. It is unique to the area, and looks almost like soup, with many dried things floating in it.
We knew that Lanzhou was the most polluted city in the world. Because of the many refineries surrounding the city, and the high mountains that are beyond them, all of the smog that is produced is trapped over the city. But, we arrived at the end of a week-long hiatus for most businesses, due to the national holiday. So, the air had time to clear. We enjoyed blue skies for our entire visit. As we were leaving town, we experienced a bit of the norm, as we drove through the refineries, the smog was beginning to build again. At times it looked like we were driving through fog. Locals had cloths tied over their mouths and noses as they worked. My eyes and sinuses burned. We are thankful to have had the opportunity to visit when we did, and to avoid most of this.
We arrived at the famous White Swan Hotel around 5PM. It sits on Shamian Island in Guangzhou which I've decided to call "adoption land". This city is a necessary stop for any American adopting from China. Many adoptive families stay at the White Swan. And, the Island is certainly set up to cater to us. There are restaurants with american fare and 80's music, little shops selling baby clothes, diapers, and squeaky shoes. The shops also lend strollers to the families for free (hoping to build a relationship and earn your business.) This island was once the home to several foriegn consulates (including ours), and I believe it was once called the French Concession area. You can certainly see the French influence in architecture. It has the feel of a beach town, with palm trees and other trees that have something like spanish moss hanging from them. As we walked through town last night, Joel mentioned that it reminded him of New Orleans, and it certainly does. We enjoyed Lanzhou very much, but in one day we went from a cold desert to a balmy beach resort. It is very pleasant here. It is also much easier to order food :)
This morning Grace had her medical exam, which was our most unpleasant part of the trip. The actual exam was really no big deal. We had a height/weight check, ear/nose/throat, and then a doctor looked her over to make sure that her health matched the medical report from the orphanage. Then they checked her immunization records and determined that she needed 6 shots to enter the US. Bless her heart. Since I didn't want her to connect anything unpleasant with Joel, I took her and held her for the shots. It was terrible. She was a sweaty mess when it was over. Wanna know why she needed them?
Well, back when the Hague treaty was signed, someone forgot to include the part that existed before the treaty that said that adoptive children could wait to be immunized in the US. It was essentially a clerical error. So, ever since the treaty was signed a few years ago, all kids have to have all of these awful shots at once. Thanks to the hard work of petitioning adoptive parents, last month a bill passed the Senate to do away with this. But, it still has to come to vote in the House, which happens in the next few weeks. Hopefully, by the end of the year, this traumatic start to a new life will have been done away with.
~She steps down from her soapbox~
So, now she is sleeping it off. We started her on Motrin this morning to help with the discomfort. She did okay, and even ate a hearty lunch after it was over. Joel is feeling a bit under the weather, and is sleeping now too. We brought antibiotics with us, and he's started taking them, just in case. Hopefully he will wake up feeling better. So, there is a quick recap of many thing that have happened. We love y'all! Blessings!