...lucky as can be!
18.05.2012 - 19.05.2012 23 °C
After buying a fare from a machine entirely in Chinese, negotiating half of the Guangzhou metro system, and standing in it strains during the tapering end of a night time rush, I arrive in Foshan. My routine has involved reaching stations and finding a friendly stranger to make a phone call. So far, nearly everyone I've asked has been so accommodating, not only letting me call, but standing by and waiting for my contact to arrive! A few minutes waiting in Foshan metro station, Frankie and his son arrive, smiling.
Three year old Chinchin isn't very shy. We greet excitedly, and he calls me "uncle." Frankie smiles constantly while he welcomes me.
A light drizzle sprinkles the ground, so I open my small travel umbrella and give it to Chinchin, who is delighted to hold it wobbly as we walk to the car; he looks at me at the behest of his dad, squints one eye cutely and says "Ooookkayy," making an O with his small index finger and thumb.
"This is first time in China?"
I smile at Frankie and then peer out the window, "Yes, first time in Zhongguo."
We exchange short and casual talk. All the while, Chinchin jumps around the back seat; each time I look back, he bursts into coy smiles. It isn't very late in the night, but there aren't enough cars on the roads. Still, every exchange reveals a haphazard driving style, sneaking into turns and honking at every negotiation. Frankie drives slow enough to avoid what would seem imminent collisions here and there, reminding me a little bit of the roads in Bogotá.
Frankie's apartment is very spacious, with 3-meter tall ceilings, three rooms and a veranda. I step in, take my shoes off and rest my things against the edge of the couch. I see more people than I expected in the room. An older woman rushes to get me a pair of slipers, but they turn out to be extremely small for my large feet. Everyone looks at my feet and laugh. The woman goes to another apartment and fetches a larger pair of sandals with the Nike symbol on them; the letters under it say KINE. Frankie introduces his wife, who greets me a bit shyly. More neighbors pop in to meet me. At any given point there are in the room at least one child and three adults that aren't part of Frankie's family, all smiling and talking adamantly among each other. I hear frankie say "go rom bi ya" out loud a few times; everyone repeats "Go rom bi ya! oh!" This is the first time they meet someone from Colombia, and they smile at me and ask me things in Mandarin. I smile too, and look at Frankie now and then for translation. His English is good, but he searches his mind for words every time he speaks to me. I just smile more and look around, not too bewildered but definitely lost.
Chinchin is loud, and sometimes he shrieks loudly, something that doesn't seem to bother anyone in the least. I would come find out that children, and especially boys in China, are thoroughly spoiled. They are allowed to do and say just about anything, temper tantrums are amusedly ignored. Little kids don't even get reprimanded heavily, even when they kick and punch their parents! The law only allows one child per family, and they are precious kings and queens in their respective households.
Frankie's wife, Sisi, fixes a light dinner for me, so I sit t eat quietly among the conversations between Frankie, Sisi and their neighbors. As midnight presses on, the room empty out, the space quiets down and we all take showers. Going to bed seems a dream in itself; after I talk to family and friends online, I turn off the light in this new room, and quiet down into sleep.