Ni Hao yet again from Beijing! We're enjoying our last few days in in this huge city of over 13 million. Only two more to go until we fly south to Guangzhou to finish up the American side of the adoption paperwork. Tuesday was the annual "Tomb Sweeping" holiday in China. Most everyone had the day off and the traffic was heavy getting into and out of the city. So we opted to stay close to the hotel during the day and just walk to a local park for a few hours of exploring on our own. We noticed a few people decided to ride their bikes to the park!
Jingshan Park was bustling with activity as people strolled the tree-lined sidewalks or found corners here and there to engage in various recreational pursuits. We had the greatest time. It probably took us 20 minutes to walk there and we stayed for nearly two hours.
Tuesday night we attended an acrobatic show, a first for us. It was extremely well done! I couldn't take photos, though.
Wednesday we took a rickshaw ride to the Hutong District of Beijing. We were able to view a 350+ year old traditional four-wing home with the central courtyard. People are still living in these homes today, and the government is doing a lot of restoration and preservation in the area.
We rode on a little further and ate lunch with a local family, right in their home! That has to be one of my favorite experiences from all my trips to China. The food was delicious, much less saucy and not as highly seasoned as much that we've had. They brought their adorable, chubby baby boy out to say hello. My camera batteries had died right before we got there, and we had no spares with us. Sad, sad, sad that I didn't get to capture those memories.
Speaking of food. I hit a wall with the Chinese food about day three or four. I love Chinese food and I love to try new things. It just gets very difficult after a few days. The past few days, however, I've really started enjoying it again, actually looking forward to each meal. So much for the Two-Week China Weight Loss Program. I'm probably going to gain a few at the rate I'm going.
We picked up some batteries at a tiny shop on our way to visit the ancient drum tower. This is the way the official time was kept for many years. The drum towers and the bell towers were situated around the walls of the ancient city.
We climbed ridiculously steep steps to reach the tower and arrived just as the hourly re-enactment was about to begin. Seriously, take a look at the photo of the steps. I couldn't even look up while I walked or I would have never climbed them.
Last night, for a change, Sylvia ordered Pizza Hut to be delivered to our room for dinner. There were three very happy campers in room 934 of the Wangfujing Grand Hotel! Pepperoni pizza and bread sticks with a surprise package of chicken nuggets. (The Chinese versions of our American favorites usually have a twist!)
Caleb seemed at least remotely familiar with pizza and wolfed down his fair share, alternately dunking every bite in garlic sauce then pizza sauce and then garlic sauce again. We haven't found anything he won't eat. Thus his description--"not picky about food"--has proved to be dead-on correct.
Today we visited the Beijing Zoo for a few hours. I had heard the exhibits were old run down and the animals were not properly kept. We just didn't find that to be the case at all. A few of the exhibits could have used some sprucing up, but really we thought the zoo was lovely.
Caleb had a one track mind through the zoo- Da Xiang! Elephant!! All the other animals paled in comparison for him until we finally found his favorite one! And outside the elephant exhibit was a whole herd of stone elephants perfect for little boys to climb!
We bought him a cob of corn to gnaw on as we walked. That seemed to be the snack of choice for most people we saw, far more popular than cotton candy or popcorn.
More animals, more adorableness.
Caleb is still adjusting very well. He has the happiest disposition of any little boy I know. Just as I had hoped and prayed, he has an adventuresome spirit and loves to try new things. He is a little mischievious and continues to "tease' us to see what he can get away with. He tends to get wound up when he gets tired, instead of slowing down. Then he gets giggly and silly and more impulsive in his behavior. But for the most part, he is doing really well. I'll be so happy when we can really communicate with each other. That just isn't going to happen, unfortunately, until we leave China and he ceases to hear Chinese and we no longer have a guide we can depend on to translate. As difficult as it will be for a while, I'm ready for it.
We learned today that Caleb was in foster care for almost his entire life--Feb 2006-Feb 2011. He was raised by one family, who had three grown biological children and three foster children. Caleb was the youngest of the foster children, with two six-year-old foster sisters. At least he is familiar with playing with girls! What a blessing! And he is used to being the youngest child. Also a blessing! Had he been the oldest of several foster children, he might have a harder time adjusting to being the youngest.
He told someone yesterday that he has "two mamas." And I suppose he does. I owe a lot to the the kind lady and gentleman who took him in and provided a home for him for the past five years. They did a good job with him and obviously loved him. But he would have always been considered an orphan and would never have had the opportunities that a biological child would have. He would always be a second-class citizen here. An orphan with a visible physical difference (regardless of how minor or correctable) = two big strikes. In America his opportunities will be limited only by his dreams.
Shhh! Don't tell Caleb, but this evening we are taking him to McDonald's! At home, it would be my last choice for a fast-food meal, but since we are quite limited in our selection of American restaurants, we're going to to take what we can get. Sylvia tells us that parents often take their children to McDonald's as a very special treat, for making good grades or doing something else noteworthy. Somehow, Caleb has had McDonald's before, we are told. It should only set us back about 100 dollars! Chinese dollars, that is, or about $16 American dollars.
I'll stop here, before I lose you, too.