Friday, September 22, 2006

A Bumpy Road Ahead!

Lisa and I love "The Amazing Race," a show where several teams of two race around the world, encountering obstacles all along the way. Well, today was an Amazing Race kind of day. Today was zoo day.

It started out normal enough -- everyone awoke early, hit the breakfast buffet, played in the hotel room, walked around the city. Then at 1:00, we climbed aboard a bus for a quick 30-minute ride to the Hefei Zoo.

We got within 2 miles of the zoo, and traffic stopped. The road in front of us no longer existed in paved form. Instead, it was just mounds of dirt. All sorts of transportation vehicles were driving through--very slowly. Some got stuck, some didn't. Our bus kept going.

I should explain the reason I say "transportation vehicles" is because the streets in China are filled with the following: cars, buses, bikes, scooters, motorcycle cabs (these are motorcycles that have a little buggy attached to them to carry passengers), tractors, men walking and pulling wheelbarrows filled with agricultural products, and of course pedestrians. The type of street doesn't matter --even the highways have this mix on them.

Anyway, we made it through the dirt mounds and then the bus stopped. Rui told us we could not go any further. We could walk to the zoo, or we could wait until the bus driver could find some smaller buses to get us there. We, of course, had no intention of walking (even though plenty of locals were) through a construction zone with 6 babies, so we agreed that smaller buses were the ticket. I think we all gave up on our chances of ever making it to the zoo that day.

But miraculously, about 10 minutes later, several very small vans pulled up next to our bus. Where they came from, I'm not sure. Rui told us to exit the big bus through a small door located in the center of the bus because, of course, the front door was broken and would not open. I felt a little uneasy about getting into a tiny, clunky van with locals everywhere staring and pointing. But I don't think any of us considered not going along with this plan. Nine of us crammed into our van, with a diaper bag and a stroller. Dust was everywhere, as these vans drove over some of the bumpiest terrain I've ever experienced, playing chicken with huge construction vehicles and random pedestrians. Our heads were practically banging on the roof with each bump. We held onto each other and the kids (because of course there were no seat belts) for the duration of the 1 - 2 mile ride. The kids said it was better than a ride at the fair. My dad took this picture from the front seat before the "fun" began.

The vans finally stopped and we all got out, thankful to be in one piece. The entrance to the zoo was on the opposite side of this dusty, dirty, road, so we gathered up our strollers and diaper bags and trekked across. (see our vans below?)

The zoo was really very nice, located on the side of a small mountain, with wide open spaces, lots of animals, a giant panda named Ju Ju, and a great sea lion show. But the memory I think we'll all have, is of those vans carrying all of us silly Americans, who were determined to make it to that zoo!

A note from Lisa: Zoe is a riot. She becomes more animated everyday! She just loves to laugh and play. Today she was all over the place -- much more like a typical one year old. We are going to have to do some serious baby-proofing when we get home. I counted her teeth today, and there are 12. She still has a cold, but it seems a little bit better. She also has some itchy red bumps which have not cleared up on her arms, legs, back, and stomach. We keep applying
Cortizone. We'll be glad to get her to the pediatrician at home.

Today we received her Chinese passport. This was the last thing we needed in Anhui, and tomorrow we fly to to our next stop: Guangzhou.

This trip is kind of like the plane ride over here: We spent 2.5 days sightseeing in Beijing, flew to Hefei, got our baby, bonded with her, did more sightseeing, and then realized we still have another week in China! We have really enjoyed Hefei, and are looking forward to Guangzhou, but I am starting to long for home, and our family and friends!

Zoe going for Daddy's sunglasses.

Zoe and Molli playing on the bus.

The giant panda in the zoo. It was very cute as it sat there munching away on a bamboo tree.


At 8:35 PM, Anonymous Kyra said...


At 8:18 AM, Anonymous Leighton said...

i think zoe is cute. me and margo love the pictures of Zoe sucking her thumb. She has a pretty smile! we can't wait to see zoe. are you coming to church next sunday?

At 8:49 AM, Anonymous Ruth Ann Hepler said...

What an adventure! We Americans just don't appreciate how good we have things over here! It's so nice to hear that Zoe is adjusting so well.


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