The Clinic

posted Aug 20, 2010, 6:37 PM by Charles Boling   [ updated Aug 21, 2010, 8:18 AM ]

Saturday 2010-08-21

Jonathan slept fitfully – probably from being somewhere new. The cost of a crib ($15 USD a night) was more than what we wanted to pay, so we just put a soft blanket on the floor between the bed and wall for him. It actually worked pretty well. Michele was within arm's reach, so when he fussed she could just put her hand on his back to quiet him. We got up around 8:00 (very groggily) and took turns going down to the 7-11 across the street to grab something for breakfast (we really didn't imagine we'd be grabbing breakfast at a 7-11 on this trip!) Jonathan got up – fairly cranky (not enough sleep!) around 9:00.

We hurried to get ready (tried to feed him breakfast but he wasn't that interested) and went down to the lobby. There we met Helen and the other two families from our adoption agency. We all walked down the street and had each child's photo's taken for the medical paperwork. Then we walked further down the street and went to a “clinic” that is mostly open just for adoption things. We filled out a bit of paperwork, then went to four different doctors. One measured him and took his temperature. One checked his ears, nose and throat. One checked his heart, lungs and other body areas. The last was the only truly hard one – that was the TB test. It was just a simple prick, but Jonathan was already screaming before we even got in the office (being tired, then being somewhere weird and then being handled by strangers was too much for him to handle). But he got a little candy from the nurse and that quieted him right up :-).

We headed back to the hotel, fed Jonathan a little more and tried to get him to take a nap. He refused (he laid there, but wouldn't go to sleep). So we went out to explore the city. The store next to the hotel was a children's clothing store with other child-accessories. The clothing prices were higher than what we wanted to pay, but what they did have an “umbrella-type” stroller. It was nicer than anything we had at home (and at $20 USD it was 10 times the price we've ever paid for our garage-sale strollers). We debated back and forth, but Jonathan really liked it, so we splurged and got it.

We had considered renting one from the hotel in Fuzhou, but Michele really wanted to carry Jonathan to help with the bonding. That was a wise choice there because he bonded very strongly to her. Since that wasn't an issue any more, the flexibility a stroller gave outweighed the price. Jonathan is a big boy (30 lbs) and so carrying him for more an a couple of miles or for more than two hours was difficult. And when he decided he wanted to struggle it was exhausting. So in Fuzhou, our strolls were really limited. We could have rented one, but it would have cost as much to rent one for 8 days as to buy one and they allow this kind of stroller as a carry-on on the airplane.

The stroller proved to be one of the best purchases we've ever made. He LOVED it.

Where are our hotel is located is on what they called “the island”. It's an area roughly ¼ mile wide and 1 mile long, formed by a very major river (between the size of the Willamette that flows through Portland and the Columbia rivers) and a channel of water about 30 feet wide. This island is adoption-central here. Guangzhou is one of a couple of cities in China with an American embassy (and other countries as well) and so a huge number of people have to spend their second week here to finish up the appropriate paperwork. Most stay in the two large hotels here on the island. The shops and restaurants around here are geared to that fact. There is a nice park here as well and most people hang around the island – it's more of an upper-class area, more westernized.

It was neat seeing other “white” families with little oriental children. In the clinic it was amazing. We were sitting in the waiting area with about 30 other parents with their newly adopted Chinese children. With how difficult it is to adopt “normal” children (and not special needs) from China now, it was interesting looking around the room at the children. Most were between one and three years. There were cleft palates, missing ears, retardation, deafness, and a host of other things that China considered “problems that made them unwantable”. And here were all these LOVING parents doting on these special children. It brought tears to your eyes watching the love that these parents were giving to these children that had previously not known such things.

We had one woman stop us last week and thank us for doing what we were doing. She said in her broken English that “Americans have big hearts. Great mercy. China people don't have such mercy hearts as Americans do”.

It was also neat, after being in a place where NO ONE spoke English as their first language, to have people to talk to again! It felt funny not having to measure each word and phrase to put it as simply and slowly as possible, but to actually speak in a normal manner at a normal speed!

So when we set out on our walk at noon we decided to be different and cross over to the “normal” part of the city. We explored many different places. We went up and down main streets, alleys, lower-class areas. We passed hundreds of vendors selling everything imaginable. It was quite amazing. Jonathan was happy in the stroller the entire three hours we were gone. He took a nap through part of it and we ate lunch for part of it. We came home, cooled off (it's cloudy, so while the humidity is super high, the temperatures are only in the upper 80's) and figured out what we wanted to do next.

We decided to go back out again (mostly because Jonathan was trying to dismantle everything in the hotel) about 4:00. We wandered around the island some what and explored the little park there. It's very interesting – they have bronze-type statues all over the park, of people doing things in the park (like kids running, or playing hopscotch). Then we headed back over to the main part of the city and found that it was now “rush hour”. At rush hour they have crossing guards to keep the pedestrians from taking over the major roads. Charles said “if they let the pedestrians have their way then traffic would come to a complete stand still!”

We were amazed at the difference in the area from just a couple of hours before. Car traffic had probably doubled, but pedestrian traffic was 10 times what it had been before. We came to a very large walking area that was just packed with people. It was a major walking thoroughfare. Our main goal was to find a grocery store of some sort, but the entire evening we saw nothing. We bought some apples, dates (fresh!) and tangerines at a little stand, and then in a convenience store found some more of Jonathan's yogurt drinks. We ended up finally coming all the way back, after four hours of walking, to the 7-11 next door to the hotel and bought dinner (little Chinese TV dinners – they even microwave them for you) and food for tomorrow. They had these large rice rolls (made from rice flour) that were only 15 cents each (the size of huge dinner rolls) and were really yummy (they were topped with onions). They were a sixth of the price of the wheat dinner rolls they had there (and larger too).

Jonathan was happy in the stroller the entire time! He fell asleep just before we got back and so Michele changed his diaper and clothes without bothering him too much. Charles went downstairs to figure out how to get to church tomorrow...

Interesting cultural note – chicken is the MAIN meat over here. It's not unusual to see entire birds, heads and all, for sale. One restaurant even had a picture of a dish it served – it was a roasted chicken, head and all! They don't care a bit about bones in their meat dishes. If you have a stir-fried meal with a mix of chicken and veggies on rice, the chicken will be full of bones. If it's a mix of pork and veggies the pork will also be full of bones! It's like they don't de-bone anything – they just drop it in, turn on the grinder and use what comes out.

This city is such an interesting mix of the old and the new. You have your hip teenagers with their dyed hair, their huge earrings, their heavy make up and skirts shorter than most bathing suits, talking on their fancy phones. Then you have the old women in their classic Chinese round straw hats selling fruit or hauling heavy pipes or doing a variety of other jobs, very quietly and discretely. You have the huge fancy touring buses and SUV's in the SAME lane of traffic on the highway as the thin man with the round straw hat slowly pulling a 3-wheeled handcart literally full of 600 or more pounds of rice or other goods. These handcarts are fairly common, as are the carts attached to the back of rickety old bikes. Again, these carts are often FULL of hundreds of pounds of weight and the rider is pulling it on the highway. Truly a juxtaposition.

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