While China has in general been pretty nice (the Chinese are very easy to like: friendly, open and just plain likable), travel has been anything but. We arrived at the airport in Wuhan in plenty of time, checked in, and had a bite of dinner. Got to the gate... and waited. And waited. Turns out that bad weather over Guangzhou was causing flights to stack up. We boarded about an hour or so late... and waited. And waited. When they served dinner while we were still at the gate, I knew were for in for it. A nice lady sitting in front of us gave us a pack of crackers for the children (like I said: the Chinese are very likable), and Caroline was quite well-behaved. The same, I'm sorry to say, cannot be said for ol' Baba, who was ready to slaughter somebody for making us sit on the airplane.
Finally, sanity prevailed and they put us back in the terminal. We waited for another hour or so, then boarded again. I thought we were in for another hour or two, but the aircraft finally pushed back, and we were on our way. Bumpy ride: they apparently weren't kidding about the weather. We got to GZ at about 1:30am, frazzled and with a pack of fractious, exhausted children in tow. Got to the hotel, got Caroline's head down, took quick showers, and passed out for a few hours.
Happily, the breakfast buffet at the China Hotel is everything people said that it is. My only complaint is the coffee: it's good, but not up to Wuhan standards. Further, it's served in small cups that are brewed individually. Now, I appreciate the effort, but I need LOTS of coffee in the morning, so I'd prefer that they brewed a pot and gave us large mugs. Oh, well... You take what you can get.
After a good breakfast, it was off to the health check up. MADHOUSE! A couple of dozen American families from several different agencies along with Chinese who were also trying to get health checkups. Fortunately, the staff both of our agency and of the medical facility were first rate and got us all hustled through the process. While waiting for the bus to go back to the hotel, I got my first look at GZ. It is clearly more tropical than Wuhan. The air is cleaner and the city greener, but the humidity... North Carolina can be bad, but it's not a patch on GZ. I also have the impression that the people here are definitely smaller than in Wuhan; I am at least a half-head taller than even the tallest men I've seen, and this was not the case in Wuhan where many of the women were nearly as tall as I am.
We've met many other American families here; it's a large group. I even bumped into a proud new adoptive father from Madrid, Spain. In our group, we've got folks from Alaska, Connecticut, Indiana, Illinois, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, Kansas, California and even a family that lives here in China (and those are the ones that I can remember). It's really a remarkable thing: people from all over America adopting children from all over China.
Caroline continues to do well. She's becoming more inquisitive and active: she likes to walk around, holding on to a finger for balance. She babbles and jabbers a lot. As noted in her reports, she has a ready smile. And has she got a temper! When she's crossed, as she was when I thought she needed to settle down before bed, she can throw a tantrum with the best of them. We let her cry that one out: she needs to learn that a tantrum will get her exactly nothing from us. We've found that she will sleep soundly in her crib, but we've got to get her fast asleep in the bed with us first. She cries when one of us leaves the room, but that's getting better. And she LOVES to dance. While I was doing paperwork downstairs, she apparently was rocking out to Ke$ha in the room. My wife got some very funny video of this; I'll try to post it later.
Caroline also has a very healthy appetite and likes some surprising foods. We ordered pizza from Papa Johns (!), and she just reached right into the box and helped herself. We were amused but also glad to see this, as it was the first time she's really fed herself (we still have to give her liquids in a spoon, and she can put away some milk and apple juice). She's learning to eat bacon and oatmeal and homefries. She went absolutely nuts for the gan chau niu he (beef chow fun) that I had for lunch: I thought she was going to shove her face into the bowl. After eating a good bit of my lunch, she ate about a third of Chrystal's hamburger and fries as well as some milk and spicy seafood soup and bread. The diaper is going to be... interesting.
We went to Shamian Island this morning and shopped. We even bought a stroller, which we plan to donate to the agency people here for the use of future families when we leave as I really don't want to lug the thing on the airplane and, anyway, we've got one sitting at home. We got silks and other knickknacks to put up for future birthdays and as gifts for some of our family members. Taxis cabs are very cheap here, which is a good thing: it's about 40 yuan (ca. $7) to get to Shamian and back. Not bad at all. The agency was also kind enough to arrange laundry service for us, which was much appreciated as I was down to no clean clothes aside from an exercise shirt and shorts.
In all, so far, so good. Our daughter is beautiful and smart and patient and funny. God has been very good to us.