One last buffet breakfast overlooking Beijing streets, one last morning stroll on the pedestrian walkways of Wafujing. Then goodbyes; to our hotel, to the city. We head back into the traffic and to the quiet airport where we struggle through security with our tiny-for-America luggage that still seems obscene here in China. I am embarrassed! (four carry on size suitcases with clothes etc for five of us, plus a backpack each and an extra one for JQ that I hand carry with her teddy and hot pink fedora.)
We wait like cattle for long minutes on a shuttle bus, pressed in to others on their way to the same city including one other intrepid pair of caucasian travelers, Austrians, I think. The flight is short, just three and a half hours seems nothing after our twelve hours to Beijing. We eat truly bad Chinese food from little plastic tins and read, and doze in our seats.
Before we know it, it is nearly five pm and we begin our descent into Nanning, a city with even dirtier-looking air than Beijing, but surrounded by farm land. Stepping out of the plane on the tarmac, the warmth and moisture in the air is noticeable. This is the tropics of China and the landscape shows it. We feel a taste of East Africa, in the palm trees everywhere. People’s faces look different here, darker skinned overall, less “chinese” looking, a bit more of Vietnam perhaps? This is China’s “gateway to Vietnam” city. Still, it is a city, all kinds of people are here.
We meet our Chinese escort, a social worker type who has worked for our adoption agency in Nanning for fourteen years. She is a treasure. As we ride to our hotel, she tells us about JQ, whom she has met four or five times, and interviewed. We are reminded of how strong, smart and kind our daughter is. And how different her life has been. We ask questions and more questions as we reach our hotel, even nicer, somehow than the one in Beijing. Twenty stories up we find our room, this city is far bigger than we imagined. Two adjoining rooms with our bed one on side and three kids beds made up on the other. Before the usual fights over beds can begin I remind the kids that Naomi will sleep next to JQ – sisters need to stick together. Naomi moves quickly and I see a change in her, big sister to a little sister. My children, changing day-by-day.
The hotel is part of a pedestrian mall once again and we wander around the corner past a Zara (“mom, we don’t even have Zara in REDDING!” Yes, JQ has better fashion stores in her town than we do, though I’m sure few here have visited them) and into a Japanese Noodle shop where we order delicious things off the menu for cheap and sit, relaxing as a family.
Surreally, we have traveled across the world to eat dinner in a city I had never even heard of thirteen months ago.
And today, Monday, 3:30 pm China time, we will meet our daughter.