Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Water, Water, Everywhere Water!

Okay, a quick geography lesson for you. We are in Guangzhou, a south-eastern city north and slightly west of Hong Kong. Formerly called Canton, Guangzhou is famous for its Cantonese foods. It's what most of us Americans think of when we order Chinese take-out. Within Guangzhou's city limits, there is a small island, surrounded by the Pearl River called Shamian Island. This is where we are. The White Swan hotel is a huge complex full of elegant gift stores, fountains, the famous play room, and fancy restaurants. And because of its reputation for catering to U.S. families adopting Chinese children, it's also regularly full of all sizes and shapes of gorgeous families glowing with happiness. The atmosphere of the hotel is usually quite festive, and we find ourselves greeting total strangers and striking up conversation about hometowns, loved ones left behind, and what we all miss about "home." It's exhilarating for all of us - from those who've come and gone to those that are here with us now, that seems to be the common feeling.

However, this morning, we all woke to a slightly different atmosphere. Dark cloudy skies, blowing winds. Employees bustling about quickly, carting hand trucks full of sandbags, pushing mop carts and toting pylons. We were blissfully unaware of the reason behind the hub-bub, until we finished stuffing Li'l Empress with french toast, soft boiled eggs, peaches, oatmeal and watermelon. On the way out, we chatted with a lovely family from NJ and she warned us that our plans for the doctor's appointment were likely in jeopardy. Seems the coming typhoon has already flooded down-town Shamian - in the direction we were supposed to walk to the clinic. Yes, I said supposed to.

With this change of plans, our guide Judy, came to the room to do all of our visa and exit paperwork instead. We are now waiting to hear from her about whether the waters have receded enough to allow us to walk and do the medical exam and visa photos today. In addition to that, we are also waiting on information about how to re-stock our supplies of formula, diapers and wipes. We may have to get a little aggressive over that particular issue, as Judy seemed to adopt a "well, I'll see what I can come up with" attitude. A little too laid-back for Mama Bear's tastes.

So, please pray for us. These delays brought on by the weather can cause complications with our Consulate Appointment. Pray for our friends, Brittany, Bayley, and Addie. They're scheduled to fly out tomorrow, but the weather is not looking too cooperative. And please pray for south eastern China. The coming typhoon (yes, I said typhoon!) is bringing heavy winds and heavier downpours. It could mean some serious destruction for outlying areas. The worst of it is expected to be over by tomorrow morning. In the meantime, we're sticking close to the hotel as much as possible!

These two shots are of the Pearl River, from our 12th story room. Yesterday, it was full of all kinds of boats and freighters. This morning, it's empty and the waters are very rough and choppy.

These two shots below are both from the front door of the hotel. Water is up to the steps and the employees were providing towels for the floor while businessmen and women bustled in and out with their pants rolled up to their knees, carrying their socks and shoes. It seems to be business as usual for most of them, but our guide is strongly opposed to us walking in those dirty waters. She said she's known too many families who have gotten sick or infections from the water. We wholeheartedly agreed!
UPDATE! Our guide just called and we will have to brave the waters no matter the depth. We will put all our other appointments in jeopardy if we don't do this one now. So pray for us and for divine protection over our feet. We have to walk, as they are no longer allowing taxis or vans onto the island. We'll update you later!


Debbie said...

I look forward to your posts everyday! It is so nice to read how things are progressing with you guys as my LOA seems so far away...going on three weeks now. I have really enjoyed keeping up with you guys during this adventure!

Steve and Jen said...

Wow. It is always an adventure in China. Probably a little more of an adventure than you bargained for though. Good luck and I hope everything goes as smoothly as possible.

Salzwedel Family said...

Oh my! I'm praying for you all.

Kimberly said...

Hey!! I hope your medical appt. went well. What time did you go? Our group had to do that yesterday afternoon, too, but I think we got there before the rain picked up because there was no flooding at that point. It started to rain around the time we finished.

Shamian is just beautiful. I like our hotel a lot, but it would have been fun to stay on the Island. Your shots from the hotel were something else. We did have to postpone our shopping day today because of the flooding so our group went to the Chen Family Temple instead. We did get to drive by the WS, however! I hope we can go in and see the famous lobby and red couch before we leave. Take care and stay dry!

Becki said...

Oh my, I can't believe your photos. Good luck braving the waters. You are in my prayers

Aus said...

Wow - and did I say WOW? Having been where you are - and seeing the flooding - I've got a pretty good idea of how deep the water is! If you get a chance - post a picture of the 'north side' of the Pearl - in the canal by the medical clinic - I'd love to see how deep the water is on that side of the island. While we were there the water never got closer than about 10' or so from the top...scary. On the upside - a lot of that water will be 'brackish' - the Pearl is an estuary from the sea and changes levels with the tide - so you may get a break there at 'low tide'!

Hugs - prayers (both for your feet and your family!)

aus and family

Kateri said...

I'm with Aus! Holy Smokes that's a lot of water on that there corner!! I've really been praying that the weather clears up so that you can enjoy some of your time on Shamian. We flew into Guangzhou the morning after a typhoon had gone through. If our guide hadn't mentioned it, we might not have known. The locals seemed unfazed...like Typhoons just happen all the time around there:) Maybe it compares to living in Florida or North Carolina during Hurricane season.
That is quite a hike to the medical exam building. I pray things went ok. I have a feeling you were all in need of a nice hot shower upon returning to the White Swan. If you get stuck in the hotel because of rain, there is a big bird cage that Aidan might enjoy. Stand in the main lobby on the second floor, look at the water fall and go left...it's just before the restaurant and just after the red couches. Alayna loved the fish too. I think she would have stayed and watched them all day if she hadn't "needed" to eat.
Looking forward to your next post from a drier S.I. (gotta think positive)

Mervy said...

I'm praying...dry up those waters! And, for your safety - no diseases, weird funguses or infections - IN JESUS' NAME!

Having been in N.O. right after the hurricanes - my best advice, clean-up and dry-up as soon as you are able.

ComfyDenim said...

Praying that you are protected with Divine Anti-bodies and angels to protect, In Jesus Name. Nothing will thwart the plan of God!!

Love the pictures, too!!!
It's amazing, isn't it?? I mean, here in the plains - we get tornadoes and the occasional continuous rain -- but nothing like that.

Heidi @ GGIP said...

Oh my goodness! I had no idea there was a typhoon in China.

Best of luck!

Jonni, John & Sofia said...

Oh my goodness. How horrid. Can you believe this, you get to CHina and then a typhoon hits. I am sending good wishes your way my friend. Be careful.


Anonymous said...

Oh Boy! We'll pray!