Tired in Mojiang.

Trip Start Jul 18, 2013
Trip End Aug 05, 2013

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Flag of China  , Yunnan,
Sunday, July 28, 2013

We met with the Bureau Chiefs today and went to the school classroom where we will be teaching. I'm sure they thought that we were odd as we measured and counted and moved desks and tried to find novel solutions to some difficult situations, including no working chalkboard or place to post visual information.  The room is much larger than the last and each person has their own short stool, instead of a narrow bench to share with one other person.

I am very tired today and I feel it in my interactions. As people stared at me today—and I don’t mean a little staring at the odd looking person, I mean gaping for several minutes as I walk by, I had to stop myself from giving back a mocking stare.  It is odd, in the beginning, I thought a smile from me might bring a smile back and create a connection, but more often than not, the gaping just continues.  I just stare forward now. And I remind myself that there are many here who have not seen an American Caucasian up close.

After the classroom visit we stopped on the street to buy steamed buns filled with sweet red bean paste, which, spread with peanut butter, has become one of my favorite breakfasts or lunches. I brought a jar of peanut butter from home.  We also bought some bananas and the Chinese women I am with bought fresh tofu that is the consistency of yogurt.

My stomach is upset today for the first time of the trip. Probably something I ate last night—beef and chili peppers fried in oil and then as, usual, a million other dishes, including some purple rice pie. Who knows?  It has been raining most of the day, giving me a chance to stay in my room and rest.

As I mentioned yesterday, there is much building happening in all of rural China.  One reason that there are so many projects is that it may take a very long time for a project to be finished.  Many of the projects that we saw in Jinnui town and some that we see here are 3-4 story buildings that look like they will be apartments or residences up and retail below, or just single or double residences.  Apparently the projects are under construction for a long  time, as people can continue themonly  as they acquire the funds.  Many of the very tall buildings that we saw from the highway on the six hour drive here look as if they are very active construction projects, with very tall boom cranes set up at every building.  Even though I know that China produces much steel that is exported to United States, I have not seen any project using much, if any, steel.  Instead the building is made of concrete poured around concrete pillars reinforced with rebar.  This, I think it the "Tofu Skin" construction criticized and exposed by the artist and activist Ai Weiwei,  who by the way has an exhibit at Indy Art Museum right now.   He was one of the designers of the Beijing Olympic Stadium and was also placed under house arrest here in China after being critical of the “tofu Skin” construction that he claims resulted in the over 5000 child deaths in the Sichuan earthquake in which several schools crumbled.  The women here no nothing of him—the news is highly censored.

Speaking of censored, Facebook is supposedly banned here in China.  I cannot go directly to the site, but if I get an email message from FB, I can get to the site by clicking on the link in the email. It does randomly disconnect frequently.  My American colleague here, who is from Taiwan, but lives in Idaho, has a computer made in China for Chinese (Chinese characters on keyboard) and she is not able to get to the Facebook page in any way. I don’t know enough to know how this would work.

We will go to dinner tonight with the officials, and it all sounds exhausting.

One thing that happens at these dinners is that lots and lots of food is delivered to the table—the host does the ordering maybe with some questioning of the guest.  And there is also lots of beer and wine. Then each of the “hosts,” starting with the person of the highest status, takes his or her glass of beer or wine around and toasts every single person individually.  Then there are also toasts to the collective guests, and to this group, and to that group, and on and on. And of course, the guests then are expected to do the same, walking around the table, toasting everyone.  Fortunately, I had read about this tradition in a book I read, The River, about a peace corp volunteer in China, so when it happened Friday night in Jinniu town, I was ready.  I toasted with tea or an empty glass about half of the time.  

There is less horn honking in this new town, but less does not mean that you don’t hear a horn on average almost every 3-5 seconds.  There is a new noise though, that is somewhat bothersome.  These very large trucks with advertisements on the side that continually drive up and down the main streets with music blaring.  There goes one right now, and then before the sound from that one fades in the distance, there is another one.  Here it comes. 

Hopefully, the rain will keep things cool tomorrow.  I promise some pictures soon.  Can you tell I am a little tired?
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Barb on

Interesting observations. I need to borrow your book! Hope yoadage feeling better aad that you got some much needed rest. Did you pack earplugs?

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