Sunday, February 10, 2008

Chinese New Year, part 3

On the morning of Chunjie Eve, I woke up around 9. The grandparents made me a traditional breakfast with these ridiculously sweet balls of glutinous rice called tangyuan. After eating a few, I gagged twice getting the next one down and stopped after that. I watched tv in Chinese for a while the wife’s son and niece woke up.

Then the mom told me that she was going to—something—and that I should just watch tv until she got back. I said sure. I watched tv for quite some time until I asked the little boy when his mom was coming back and he said he didn’t know. Eventually the grandparents said we were going to have lunch and that’s where I would see Shawna. I thought that was a good idea, since it had been almost 12 hours since I last saw her.

We went to another relative’s house, where I was briefly introduced to everyone and was very relieved to see that Shawna was still alive and coaxing food out of everyone. As we ate lunch, I talked to the wife’s cousin who speaks pretty good English. She didn’t know anything about going back to Chengdu that day, but I figured she was just out of the loop since the plans had changed pretty fast. Gradually, though, I realized that going back to Chengdu was not on the docket for the day. I told the mom that I must have misunderstood, because I thought that when she said we would only be here for one night, that then we would leave early this morning. She said that of course that wasn’t the plan: it’s Chunjie Eve!

We all got in the car, then, and drove another half hour to the countryside. The house we went to was more like a Chinese villa. It was surrounded by fields of some Chinese vegetable, and had a massive gate that led up to the four-story stone house. We went to the third story where there was a heater and a sliding glass door, so Shawna could relax. I took my mind off of thinking about what in the world was going on by learning Chinese card games.

Eventually it was time for dinner, so I put Shawna in the car and prayed that she wouldn’t tear up the leather seats. She was so exhausted from all the excitement, though, that she slept happily. Meanwhile, I ate all kinds of exotic foods. The cousin was there who could tell me some of what I was eating. Beef, pork, lamb, pig’s ear, chicken stomach, meat from something like a goat. The men tried to talk me into drinking tons of baijiu with them, but just wetting my lips with it was strong enough to last me for five minutes.

After dinner we played cards some more, and then it was dark and time to shoot off fireworks. I had heard that fireworks in China are more powerful than ones in the States, but I didn’t really believe the extent of it. I held Shawna in my arms so she wouldn’t freak out, and just twenty feet from us they set off fireworks that you would only see shot off by your city’s Fourth of July party. They were all the kinds I recognized from the States: blue, red, white, green, corkscrewing ones and ones that just made a loud pop, and ones that made a huge dome and ones that had the double explosion. They would go up maybe 50 feet and then explode. I’ve thought that I was close to some fireworks displays in America, but when you look up and the firework particles are not only in front of you, but also behind you, you know that you’re in China.

Shawna did remarkable well during all this, which even let me play with a few sparklers with the kids.

And then the fireworks were all over, it was dark and around 10:00, and I was still in the countryside with Shawna.

1 comment:

T.C. said...

china sounds fantastic, other then the whole dog ordeal, however its good to hear how hospitable and accommodating Chinese people are.