Ruth, Juliana and Candy are here. All napping, as they should be after 37 hours of travel (about 24 of those spent in the air). It is good to have them back. They are understandably exhausted, but Ruth said the baby rested alot, so that is a blessing.
I really have nothing to complain about, but I thought I would share an interesting cultural experience on the way to pick them up.
The school sent the van to pick me up at 8 a.m., 4 hours before the flight was to land, because we needed to go to Xi'an to pick up some health documents and for the new Japanese teacher to pick up his "luggage." Naturally, the driver came more than a half hour late because he needed to get "oil" (or gas?) for the van, which required him to drive all the way across town (apparently the closest gas station). Thankfully, this is a small town.
The school won't let any of the foreigners go to Xi'an on our own, at least for a couple of weeks. There have been reports of anti-Japan rallies in Xi'an, in which thousands of students carried anti-Japan banners and handed anti-Japanese slogans for awhile, until finally taking out their frustrations on Japanese cars and stores selling Japanese-banded electronics both of the last two weekends, so the school asked us not to go and now sends a security guard to escort the Japanese teachers anytime they want or need to leave the campus. (Thankfully this policy was implemented 2-3 hours AFTER I got to Xi'an last weekend for team leader meetings). Sometimes this sort of thing can get out of hand and spread to ANY foreigner, so I can understand the school's fears. Anyway, this meant that our trip would be more than just a jaunt to the airport. The new Japanese teacher has actually lived in Xi'an for 5 years and speaks excellent Chinese. He is currently finishing a master's degree in the city, which explains why he has an apartment there. It also explains why it took more than an hour and a half for him to get his "luggage" loaded into the van.
As we pulled up to the apartment building, he explained that his girlfriend, a Chinese woman, lives in the apartment. He hadn't seen her in almost three months. When we arrived, none of his things were packed. He'd simply left his belongings behind and went home to Japan for the summer. So, as his girlfriend served tea and chocolates, the school official and I sipped and watched the two frantically pack several boxes full of books and clothing and assorted other things. Suddenly, a half-hour into our stay, the school official suggested that perhaps she could retrieve the documents now instead of waiting until after the packing was done -- or worse -- after the plane arrived. The government office wasn't far away, so she made it back before the packing was done.
Thankfully, that meant that we made it to the airport just as the plane landed. As we waited, several of the tallest Chinese men I'd ever seen sauntered through the airport. I wonder if they are part of the Chinese basketball team, set to play the American team on the 31st at the arena adjacent to our school. Can't seem to find any info apart from the big banners near the street and in the park. Could be interesting.