Today was an unusual day. My 8 a.m. class this morning was a false alarm; due to a miscommunication our teacher didn’t come. The only normal part of the day was midday – oral class, fried jiaozi for lunch, and a chocolate milkshake afterwards.
Then I got a phone call, telling me to be at the track at 4 for practice – not words I’m used to hearing, in any language. It was as I feared; this track meet is more intense than I was expecting/hoping. We started by running once around the track (400m), which I think I managed to pretend wasn’t as out-of-the-ordinary as it was for me. Then we started practicing our events. Personally, I am participating in a 10-person relay, jumping 30 meters in a sack. I went back and forth a few times and, while my legs are not sore, my lower back and neck mysteriously are. We also practiced the sack-transfer several times, although this won’t be very applicable in the actual event because the bags on that day won’t have bottoms. (Don’t ask me, I don’t understand.)
There are a couple other foreigners participating, and I enjoyed talking to them. One of them (Pun from Thailand) is the roommate of my good friend, Carlos, and is himself a really nice guy. We talked about books and sleeping! See, there are good men in the world!
After a shower, it was dinnertime. There are so many days when I eat dinner alone, but today I had a grand total of four options for dinner. There was my usual Friday night dinner with Hu Jing, which I ended up cancelling because of my track practice. Leinira and friends were going to a Japanese restaurant and Carlos was going to dinner with taiqi friends, and both invited me along. However, I had already accepted an invitation to Aleid’s apartment.
I met Aleid, Diederik, Kristina from Slovenia, and Jimmy from Sweden at the West Gate and we took a bus to her apartment. There, I had the pleasure of sitting on her soft couch, talking to Kristina, Aleid, and her French roommates while the men worked in the kitchen.
Jimmy made us a delicious dinner. It was just meat and potatoes, but it was meat and potatoes Western-style, not Chinese-style.
Followed by a bottle of wine and some sliced fruit with Reddi Whip and chocolate syrup . . . absolutely amazing.
The entire evening was also marked by an exchange of text messages. As I’ve mentioned, we’re planning on going to Ningde tomorrow morning. The guy at the travel agency told us it was 3 hours away by bus; Arina’s Chinese friend told us 12 hours at least. So basically, we’re not really sure where we’re going, how long it’s going to take to get there, and what we’ll see when we get there.
But it’s okay, because that’s what we do in China. In case you’ve ever wondered, that’s where the title of this blog came from. Last summer when I was in China with SENEA, we often traveled around by bus or taxi. Both of these methods are, at best, “exciting” or, more accurately, “unreliable”, especially when you don’t speak Chinese. As a result, we often ended up taking a lot longer to get where we were going than we had previously thought.
There were the times when the taxi drivers would take us on personal errands; the time the one driver drove off the road into the ravine and we had to pull him out; the time another driver got a flat tire, or the time another one threw cold water on his hot engine block; the times the buses randomly didn’t come for reasons incomprehensible to us; the times we got on buses going the wrong way; the time all the buses to Yanji were shut down for the day in honor of the Olympic torch. You know, these sort of unexpected delays and long-cuts.
Once we faced the realities of traveling in China, we started referring to our plans as “adventuring towards” our destination instead of the overly-confident (and totally unrealistic) “going to”. When you’re “adventuring towards” someplace, it’s okay if you end up delayed somewhere or even going backwards along your route, because it’s all part of the adventure.