This morning was fine. I went for a short run and did some yoga on the concrete marble floor while Manuel biked to the grocery store to buy some things that are too heavy for me—a case of milk etc.. The kids played outside and got filthy scaling the landslide
, which they had created by removing rocks. The afternoon—not so much. Keep in mind as background for this delightful expedition that the effect of me walking anywhere with my three (or four) children is as if I was a six foot tall woman walking on the down town mall in Cville wearing a bikini and toting identical quadruplets. It’s not the photo frenzy of Beijing but everyone looks and my limited vision is what stops me from being uncomfortable. Also keep in the mind that the local Dai people are described as “peaceful” “budhist” “quiet” etc… And there is no bustle here even in town.
My idea was that the spawn and I would go out to lunch and then do a bit of shopping. I should have known we were headed for disaster when we missed the electric bus that leaves fifty feet from our house. We missed it because when a yellow bus went by and I went to flag it down t the kids started saying "no it's for TOURISTS" (as if they aren't) for some reason I listened to them. And after ten minutes no bus came we called it a loss and went home for a snack of some goldfish I found in the bottom of Jonathan’s backpack. (in a bag but still) Then we headed back out for the 1:00 bus; fifteen minutes and an excruciating set of 20 questions rounds early. We finally made it and walked to the restaurant we had liked on Sunday. We passed water buffalo on the way. I’m getting more comfortable with chickens passing by my feet in restaurants and managed to order water in Chinese and use actual words for numbers. We had a yummy lunch of veggie-fried rice (with just some pork) and the best fresh orange juice I’ve ever had. Jonathan proclaimed, "the guide books is right they really do know how to make eggs in China" and both big kids agreed it was the best lime aid they'd ever tasted. I’m sure the ice cubes were toxic but whatever….. While we were eating it got to be about 120 degrees, which you could tell because the men who were by this point lazing around in no shirts were dripping with sweat. We went to the topless agricultural market and found roller blade store--too good to be true. The kids all tried on blades, knocked down every scoter in the place, and found ones they loved. Then I realized I had all of $3 in my purse. A series of hand gestures and phone calls for remote translation incurred during which I was silently cursing myself for not having taken a Chinese emersion class. The total lack of cash turned out to be the least of the problems since the guy wanted $500 for them (about $83 bucks). That seemed outlandish to me. Now that I think about it that's not bad for three pair of roller blades but..... Meanwhile the tyrannical third child had decided he wanted a gun. The Chinese talk about a little emperor syndrome—prized only children who are boys. Eli gave them all a run for his money. Why in a country that has no legal firearms, even for police, they have toy guns every three feet is beyond me. But Eli wanted one and he flew into an unabashed four-year-old rage prompting the entire market to stare and point at us. Not only did they point but they tried to help which involved wiping snot off his face, picking him up off the floor, and patting his head. For each intervention he punched someone until I picked him up and he started punching me, still screaming. Recall that these are a peaceful people and we’re already crowd stopping even when we are peaceful. Clearly we were not going to make it to the grocery store. Instead we walked at a snails pace through the wretched heat with big kids screaming "we really need to find an aya for temper of thunder so we can explore the local countryside without him." They were trying to say the Chinese word for nanny but it came out as the basic expression for "oh my, what a tragedy, yikes etc...." This word from their little white faces only added to the spectacle. At one point Eli walked into an air-conditioned hotel without us as if to check in. As he walked in I watched another shirtless guy ride a vespa out—by then I thought I was hallucinating from the heat. For the icing on the cake Rebecca came about 1/2 inch from getting run over by an old man on a Vespa prompting me to literally scream and screech. I was by that time carrying Eli and saying completely inappropriate things to him. Rebecca, who is easily terrified by the most innocuous things and screeches at least 37 times a day said “really mama I don’t know why you screamed. I’m fine and you’re the only one here who has gotten run over by anything.” We finally made it back to the bus stop where the bus driver took one look at the filthy kids and seemed to be saying "no way are you getting on my bus you sweaty yelling Americans.” Finally he warmed up to us after making the kids move seats three times and dropped us at the house of the Dutch guy next door. I think the logic was "I have no idea where you people belong but he looks a little like you and I want you off my dam bus" The big kids gave him a delightful thanks and bye in Chinese—performing good children. I dumped Eli in a long time out, although he’d pretty much forgotten what the offense was and am now fantasizing about a margarita and ice cream Sunday. The title nine add that flipped into my in box announcing “Today’s wow” of a print om bra top would undoubtedly be retail therapy if I thought anything would ever arrive here…. They make it sound like a printed oooooom will solve all your problems.