Today I managed to communicate with the driver. Meredith had to go to Condordia for testing this morning so I went with her to make sure she got there all right. We needed to be there at 8:30 or so for her tests at 9:15. Mr. Chen wanted to leave at 7 which we thought was being a bit overzealous so we hedged our bets and came down to the car at 7:10.
We got there at 7:43.
Mr. Chen opened the door, expecting us to hop out, but of course no one was at the school at that time of the morning, except for the guards who glared at us suspiciously. Mr. Chen looked so bewildered when Meredith and I kept our behinds glued firmly to our seats.
How to explain that you are almost an hour early when you have no common language? With the use of what will undoubtably become my best friend in the coming months-the Chinese translation app on my iPhone. Type in an English phrase and out pops the Mandarin, either in character or pinyon. You can even listen and hear how it sounds. It’s not fool proof. I tried out several phrases on him which just added to the general confusion before I finally gave up and just typed something in and had him read it. Yup, my pronunciation still pretty much stinks.
But, I did manage to text him when I needed to leave the school and he did come and got me (well, it was only one word-lai (come)). But really, if I’d said “the rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain”, even in English, he would have figured out that he needed to come and get me because what else would I have been saying to him? Something chatty like, “Oh, look, the rain finally let up?”
Meredith and I went to the Carrefour near her school while we were waiting for her to go to her tests to kill some time. This is a really big one that reminds me a lot of Wegmans, except with 50 kinds of tofu. There were skads of people there even before 8am and they all seemed to be very interested in one particular kind of apple, so I joined the fray and bought some too. I have to admit they are very good! And they were cheap!
Very close to Meredith’s school are numerous gated communities. I’m not sure if the men in the picture below were outside of one of those communities or if they were outside a government building-we passed it too quickly for me to get a picture and see what the building was. Anyway, they were marching in perfect formation, with loud clomping boots and the one guy was barking commands at them. I have no idea why they were there or what they were practicing for. I like the lady in gray who is totally unimpressed by them and just walks by without a glance.
Here’s some pictures from the walk that Mark and I took tonight.
This is the Okura Garden Hotel. It was originally the French Club way back when when the French had a large presence here.
This is the huge chandelier in the lobby:
We took a walk through the garden and came across several characters: a young couple who appeared to be having a fight. The girl’s face was cloudy with tears and the boy seemed to be entreating her to forgive him. An older, shirtless man seemed to be out for his evening walk-backwards! And the ubiquitous garden cat was surveying its domain under a tree:
This is up on the walking bridge over a very busy road. If you pick out the 3 tall lighted buildings in the background, the middle one is the Portman, the hotel at the center of our apartment building.You can just make out the 2 apartment building on each side of it.
Sea shipment comes tomorrow. All will be revealed-what did I put in there all those months ago??