Brad and I have really enjoyed our year in Qingdao, but we have tried to keep our options open for next school year. We have been praying about it and trying to see where God is leading us. We have received a few different invitations to go to other cities, and last weekend Brad and I visited one of these. Daye is a small city, less than a million people, in central China. This city does not have a McDonalds or KFC, both popular in many other cities in China. Moreover, if we move to this city next year, we will be the ONLY two foreigners there for most of the year.
The roughest part of our trip was the beginning. We had to fly from Qingdao to Wuhan, just under 2 hours, and then drive another 2 hours (or so) from there to Daye City. Unfortunately, as my family and mother especially know, I often get sick when traveling.
The plane ride wasn’t too bad, but the quick transition to the car was tough and I feared wouldn’t be good on my tummy. Our sweet host Mei in the front seat kept assuring us that it was okay to “take a rest” so I took her up on her offer and closed my eyes for a bit. I knew I needed to fall asleep in order to keep my belly from exploding all over the back seat of the car. That would have been quite an embarrassing first date.
I did fall asleep for a while, but was awoken by a rough patch of stop-and-go traffic. One time our driver even turned off his engine. YUCK.
The Chinese like to preserve energy when driving so the driver didn’t turn on any air inside the car. The problem with that was that it was raining so the windows could not be rolled down either. Well, they were from time to time, but after getting wet for a few minutes, they were quickly put back up. The air in the car was thick and heavy as the air outside the car was warm and wet. I prayed to God to keep my stomach at peace with the
food and coffee I had a few hours earlier on the plane.
About 2 ½ hours later, after the traffic, motion-sickness and rain, we were nearing our destination and I was beginning to feel better. The rain had stopped, the windows had come down, and the feeling of fresh air was making every new breath of mine a little bit easier and quite soothing. By this time we were off the main highway and were traveling on small town roads so the view from the windows was exciting and new as well.
It was also at this time, as my day was looking brighter and my health seemed as if it was under control, when Brad calmly called from next to me in the back seat, “Uh-oh, puddle.” I looked at him and then looked out the window where I found not just a puddle, but a place in the road that was flooded. Cars coming towards us were slowing down to make it through. Unfortunately, our driver didn’t speak Mandarin, no less English, and so Brad’s warning did nothing for him. He kept his speed though the puddle, with his window down. As he was venturing through the flood, a car drove past him and somehow splashed water through the narrow space between our driver's head and front window and HIT ME square in the face and chest. HA! NOT joking!
The rest of the weekend was wonderful. We were taken immediately to an apartment where we would be staying and allowed to rest for a while. About an hour later we were picked up and taken to a huge, fancy lunch where the whole school’s faculty had joined together and I especially was warmly greeted with a H U G E bouquet of flowers. Everybody cheered when we walked into our little personal dining room. I'm sure if it hadn't been raining they also would have rolled out the red carpet. (kidding)
Over the next two days we walked around the city, small but quaint and friendly, and spent lots of time at the school and with the students and teachers. Brad and I were so impressed by what Mr. Embree (school’s U.S. founder), Mei, and the others teachers had been able to accomplish in just one year. Each classroom had a SmartBoard, student work on the walls, and happy students. This small city school was BETTER than the majority of English schools where I worked and visited in Qingdao, a city of 9 million!
Sept. 29, 2011
So...the good news is that I have no new disease, and I know that for sure because I have been to a few doctors in the last few months since I am 5 months pregnant. Looking back I realize now that the weekend we visited Daye was the first week that I was experiencing the beginnings of "morning sickness" (hate that name, by the way, so misleading). We met Mr. Embree a few weeks ago (he also lives in Charleston) prior to flying back to China and he commented, "I'm glad you're feeling okay. You look a lot better than you did before." ha! I didn't even know 'before' that I was preggo-sick yet! Oh, Mr. Embree, you have no idea...
We are getting ourselves adjusted in our new apartment and at our new school. We both have taught a couple of classes thus far so the stress and nervousness of starting something new is beginning to dissipate. We are still figuring out the safest and best place to have the baby, though as with anything else, you get what you are able to pay for. In China, that often means super-duper pricey. I'm not so sure I'm willing to pay that... so we'll continue to search and research. Keep baby Hedge in your prayers. :)