Friday, October 10, 2008

The Sun is Shining & The Flies are Buzzing

Today is a beautiful, warm day here in Qufu. The sun is shining in a blue sky, and it feels like Spring. It is a nice reprieve from the cold, grey weather we have been experiencing for the past several days. It was beginning to feel as if we had skipped Autumn altogether and went straight to Winter. Thank goodness for an unexpectedly nice day.
Along with the sunshine have come small black flies, by the hordes. Olivia and Rachel have complained of fly infestations in their apartments, and while enjoying our lunch in the canteen this afternoon, Nick and I were continuously bothered by flies. In fact, upon leaving the canteen, we noticed a swarm of flies socializing on all of the chopsticks used in the canteen. NICE! Who needs a health code? Good for the immune system (at least, that's what we all tell ourselves so that we don't fast in fear of getting incredibly sick).
Today has been a wonderful day. I have no Friday class, so I slept in a bit and read in bed for a while. I did some laundry, and after lunch I went to the post office with Rachel to mail some important documents home. I wanted to be sure they would not be lost in the regular mail, so Connie suggested I send them EMS (some version of express mail). Well that sounded like an excellent plan, until I went thru the entire process and was handed the receipt telling me I owed the post office 184 yuan. Yikes! Important, but not that important. Rachel had to leave before this point to get to class on time, so in my panic I called Connie and asked her to explain to the nice lady that I did not have the kind of money with me. Connie, being the kind and helpful person she is, rushed to my rescue at the post office. When she arrived she explained to me that there was a cheaper option for mailing my important documents, which would still be safe but would take a little longer. When she said this would cost only around 20 yuan I was relieved. But the post office by our school did not have this option, so I had to go downtown to the larger post office to mail my documents. Oy. Thankfully, one of my wonderful students happily agreed to escort me to the post office downtown. Since it is such a nice day, I suggested that we take a small, 3-wheeled motorized car (kind of like a souped up rickshaw). After speaking with the driver for a few minutes, Yolanda explained to me that it would cost 3 yuan each for him to take us where we needed to go because the vehicle he drives is illegal in that part of the city. I said that was fine. So we climbed into the rickety little van/car/rickshaw and buzzed and bounced our way downtown. Just to clarify: speedbumps + potholes = bruised tailbone. It was by no means a comfortable ride, but it was certainly thrilling. And by thrilling I mean I feared for my life, both there and back (as the kind driver offered to wait for us while we mailed my envelope so he could drive us back to Xingtan). I have decided there is no amount of money that would convince me to ever drive a car or ride a bike in this city. Even walking on the streets, one is putting his/her life at risk. But it's all part of the fun. I mean, the most excitement we get around here is drinking beer while playing Uno and watching a movie. So I enjoy a terrifying rickshaw/cab ride every now and then.
I am looking forward to the plans I made with Yolanda for tomorrow evening. She will be coming to my apartment with Mika, again. We will cook dinner, again, and watch a movie. Yolanda has also offered to tutor me in Chinese. Hooray for lovely Chinese friends!

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