At 9 we met with Timothy at the headquarters to talk about plans for the week. We decided our goal for the trip was to build a wind turbine and put it up at the shepherd’s house. He already had solar panels that were supplying him with lights, but we hoped to be able to power his TV and DVD player. After we left, Timothy would also put in a bio-gas digester, which converts manure and waste into methane gas and fertilizer, to provide heat. Eventually, the farm plans to build two more shepherd’s houses up in the hills, and this one would serve as the prototype. For the upcoming school year, our project is to design a house, incorporating all the alternative power options available to us, to house a family of 11 ‘off the grid’ (without buying electricity from China). Next summer’s implementation trip will hopefully be helping with the building of this house.
After our meeting, we had our first lunch in the ‘cafeteria’. It is a medium sized room with a kitchen and two very low tables. A Korean woman cooked for the workers and then us. We all sat on the floor (which was heated, when necessary) around the tables.
We each had our own bowls of rice, and communal dishes were placed in the middle of the table. Using our chopsticks, we grabbed a little bit of whatever we wanted, added some rice, and ate it. Then the process was repeated, putting the chopsticks that had just been in our mouths back into the communal dishes. And thus the Second Culinary Law of China was decreed: “There are no germs in China.” That first lunch was very good and relatively ‘normal’. In addition to the delicious sticky rice, there were soybean sprouts, beans and beef, and egg and onion.
After a few games of ping pong, we made a shopping list of all the things we needed for the wind turbine. When Timothy came back, he took us out to the shepherd’s house and the spring. Since finding this spring, the family had been bottling the water and drinking it, and had not had any adverse health effects, but he wanted it tested for fecal coliforms, pesticides, iron, etc. Then we headed into Hunchun to look for the powerful magnets we would need to build our own alternator. The only ones we found were too expensive, but we also stopped by an office supply store, where we scored some good deals. We bought some Chinese pens and notebooks for ridiculously cheap, and I even bought a genuine Chinese abacus, with a clearing mechanism!
For dinner, we met up with the family at a ‘stick restaurant’. We sat in two cubicle-like things, and the waiters placed red-hot coals into sunken sections of the tables. Then they brought us platters of raw meat on skewers, like shish-ke-bobs but only meat, which we cooked ourselves over the coals. Then we dipped the chunks of meat into dishes of spice, wrapped them in lettuce, and ate. We had both niu rou (beef) and yang rou (lamb), which was very fatty.
We also ordered a lamprey (think: screaming eels in Princess Bride), but – luckily?? – it didn’t come.
After dinner we went to an internet cafe, where 6 people spent 2 hours online for less than $3. Beat that, Italy! I did some research on water testing and then discovered that Wikipedia was not accessible in China! Neither was Livejournal, but surprisingly, I could get on Facebook. I also found out that the rumor about Tiananmen Square is true – you cannot access any links relating to that incident.
Near the end of our time we learned that comfortable couches + jet lag = not much work getting done. Just like so many times last semester at the Newman Center, a comfortable couch was my downfall. Luckily, real sleep was not far behind . . .