Warning, long post ahead.
Today we had our first tour of the trip. We were the last family to arrive and unable to do anything in Beijing. Today we went to the Yellow River and saw the Chinese Mt. Rushmore, the heads of the first two emperors carved into a mountain side and what appeared to be Biblical sized incense burners lining the square leading up to the monument.
A large gong sat in the square, an attendant charging 1 RMB (about .60 cent) to bang the gong. 3 bang minimum to ensure good luck we’re told. I held Penelope while Jennifer rang us up some luck. Penelope went wild, squirming and crying at the sound of the gong. Each hit increased the volume of her cries.
We made our way over the square and went up the mountain a few yards. We tried to go back but Penelope wanted to stay. Finally it was time for our group to head back. We gathered up our girl and headed back, past the gong, thankful the crying subsided the further away we went.
Next our group boarded what appeared to be a hand-me-down hovercrafts from the Chinese army. It looked like a life size version of one of my favorite toys growing up and I couldn’t have been more thrilled. Jennifer was SO patient and let me enjoy the ride, surrounded by native tourists and fellow families with screaming children, looking out mud caked windows while we glided over land and sea. We were taken put to an island and greeted by old Chinese men selling donkey rides to the new arrivals. Jenn insisted Penelope was not going on this ride and I agreed. The old men pointed at Penelope, then the donkey, and proceeded to tell us (in Chinese of course) how much and how fun the trip would be. I haven’t had to say “bukeqi” (no thank you) so many times on this trip.
I marveled at the infinite structure the Chinese were building over the Yellow River. It will either be a highway or for a train. The scope and size of the project were unlike anything I’ve seen.
Back at the port Jennifer continued her search for the smelliest, nastiest bathroom in China. Initially she thought it was going to be great because the entrance was clean and spacious. She was deceived. She said this one was toward the top (or bottom, depending on your perspective) of the list.
Did I mention Penelope slept 5 minutes on the way there? That 5 minutes must have registered as her 2 hour nap because she would not sleep the rest of the day. Jenn and I assured ourselves she would sleep on the way back (a 45 minute bus ride back), but this did not happen. Instead she soiled her diaper, which we changed in the seat.
Instead of going back to the hotel we disembarked a block away at a tea shop our CCAI rep Vivian recommended. We saw the prices on the tea and marveled. I thought it was going to be cheaper here! 3600 RMB for a gram of their best tea. Just divide that number by 6 and you’ll have the dollar amount. Needless to say we did not make a tea purchase. The proprietor was kind enough to let us sample 3 of the teas. We could have sat there all day as every time you finished the sample she poured in more.
We had dinner at the Holiday Inn Express again. This time we accompanied 2 of the other families. When we asked for 3 highchairs we were told there was 1. Since Penelope was the biggest of the bunch she sat on my lap to eat. I fed her noodles and dumplings for what seemed like eternity. She eats just like her mother, non stop!
Back at the hotel Penelope got a much needed bath (3 BM’s in as many hours did not go by without leaving a stench). With no fuel in her tank I was able to hum and sing “Blackbird” to her for a few minutes until the screaming gave way to exhaustion.
Tomorrow is our last day in Zhengzhou before we head to Guangzhou to finalize the adoption for the US . We reviewed the paperwork Vivian provided, proofing it for grammatical and factual errors. We were thankful yet heartbroken to read that Penelope was abandoned at a surgical hospital in Zhumadian on April 9th, 2010.
Another piece of the puzzle falling into place. We genuinely believe her biological parents wanted the best for this beautiful girl. We’ll never know how accurate the information is, but choose to accept it, and believe love can overcome the circumstances that forces a family to abandon a divine gift such as Penelope.