Rugged Guizhou / Rugged Health

First off, I must apologize for my 2 week WordPress hiatus.  I hoped I’d never go so long between posts, but between trips to northern Guizhou with the school and terrible flues and colds, I haven’t had much time to sit in front of a computer.  But it would appear that I’m back into the swing of things today!  We have all but finished cleaning our (terrifying) kitchen, and our Christmas tree is up and glowing 🙂  We even made time to visit Grandma’s kitchen today, where we enjoyed some fantastic western food.   It’s been a good weekend 🙂

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Dave's Super Burger
Dave’s Super Burger from Grandma’s tonight.  It’s fully loaded with ham, bacon and an entire fried egg…
Meitian is too small to be included on a map like this, but it's right above Zunyi.  Guiyang, where we live, is right in the center of the province
Meitian is too small to be included on a map like this, but it’s right above Zunyi. Guiyang, where we live, is right in the center of the province

So I suppose I’ll start this post on the more positive topic: our trip to Meitan, Guizhou province. Meitan itself is a tiny town that is famous for its red tea production.  After spending a year in Xiamen, where Oolong and Green tea are most popular, I was eager to learn about the red tea of Guizhou province.

We made several stops in the area, viewing gigantic tea pots and statues built to honor the tea making traditions of Guizhou province.  We were especially happy to get out of the school bus that transported us 4 hours north of Guiyang.  Although the bus meant a free trip to the hot springs, it is designed to transport 8 year olds and even the shortest of us (myself included) couldn’t sit with our knees facing forward.  It was a bit of an uncomfortable ride!!

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This is the same school bus that greeted us at the airport in August 🙂
The whole foreign Interlingua crew (minus Naveed, who couldn't come).
The whole foreign Interlingua crew (minus Naveed, who couldn’t be there)
The lady who answers the phones at Interlingua.  She doesn't speak any English but she always laughs at my jokes when I try to make them in Chinese.
The lady who answers the phones at Interlingua. She doesn’t speak any English but she always laughs at my jokes when I try to make them in Chinese.
One of many gigantic tea pots around town.  One of them is actually a hotel!!
One of many gigantic tea pots around town. One of them is actually a hotel!

Our bus driver must have been a tour guide in another life-time, because he knew all the best places to stop.  After having some lunch in downtown Meitan, we headed for the tea fields, which I hadn’t seen since my time in Fujian.

Turned to get a shot of this field and saw Jumoke way out in the distance haha!  His eccentricities are what make him a good teacher.  His students adore him :)
Turned to get a shot of this field and saw Jumoke way out in the distance haha! His eccentricities are what make him a good teacher. His students adore him 🙂
Of course, he did need to find his way back afterward, and he didn't want to damage the tea leaves, so he sort of flipped over each line until he made it back
Of course, he did need to find his way back afterward, and he didn’t want to damage the tea leaves, so he sort of flipped over each line until he made it back

This was a natural point for us to stop and try some of Guizhou’s finest tea.  Manny, the recruitment guy for all 3 Interlingua Branches, knows how much I love tea, so he made sure to let me know we’d be doing it all traditional style.  I was pretty excited, not only because I love tea, but also because a lot of the Mandarin I know is useful in a tea shop.  I spent a lot of time in them in Xiamen, and being in them now always makes me feel so fluent!  I don’t think anyone there noticed that I knew what she was saying (other than the poor saps who were stuck sitting beside me, listening to me yammer excitedly…Sorry Dave and Lexie!).

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Our lovely tea demonstrator 🙂
Lexie and I....notice the look of giddiness on my face....that's what I refer to as my 'caffeine face' lol!
Lexie and I….notice the look of giddiness on my face….that’s what I refer to as my ‘caffeine face’ lol!
The boys, waiting patiently for their tea :) (From front to back we have Jumoke, Andrew, Daid and Mauricio.  I even got Ouyang in the shot, although he isn't paying a whole lot of attention!
The boys, waiting patiently for their tea 🙂 (From front to back we have Jumoke, Andrew, Daid and Mauricio. I even got Ouyang in the shot, although he isn’t paying a whole lot of attention!

After making some purchases at the tea shop, we head out to our hotel, which was located quite remotely, but was clean and quite nice.  It even had indoor heating, which didn’t work in everyone’s rooms, but still!  It worked in some!!!

Meitan International Spring Hotel
Meitan International Spring Hotel

After the all you can eat buffet (where Ouyang had us try some fermented tofu…which tasted like you might think rotten tofu should taste…), we got into our bathing suits and headed down to the lobby for the main reason for this trip:  Hot Springs!!!  Unfortunately I couldn’t get many pictures because the steam didn’t allow for much, but I did get a few of the entertainment.  Not only were there girls waving their arms (aka:dancers) to watch, but there was even a male performer who came up and serenaded unwilling females.  And of course, he came over and welcomed the lao wai to the hotel!

Lexie, Lumi and I enjoying the heat :)
Lexie, Lumi and I enjoying the heat 🙂
Tried to get a pic of the boys but Dave's hotness was steaming up the picture :P
Tried to get a pic of the boys but Dave’s hotness was steaming up the picture 😛
One of several performers that entertained us while we soaked
One of several performers that entertained us while we soaked
The most entertaining of them all
The most entertaining of them all

Things were going well for the Interlingua clan at this point.  We were all relaxed and enjoying the steamy baths.  It felt good to unwind in the ‘wine pool’ (that smelled like sulfur and alcohol) and the ‘rose pool’ (which sounded like sulfur and flowers).  But then David’s stomach started to go south…(not my David…Brittish David).  By the following morning, 3 of the crew had been throwing up (including MY David) and several more of us felt under the weather.  It was a long 6 hour bus ride back to Guiyang, including the hour we stopped for lunch (when Huang took the opportunity to have Ouyang find stomach meds for her ailing teachers).  Of course, Chinese medicine is a tad different from ours.  Dave was told to quickly drink this little vile of liquid and that it would help his nausea.

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They also told him that it would taste like crap. Seeing as he couldn’t even keep things that tasted GOOD in his stomach, the meds never stood a chance…

Several days later, Dave was feeling better, but then of course my time came to be sick.  After a trip to the doctor to get a sick note (my first sick day in nearly 3 years…) and a trip to the pharmacy to get something to help with the vomiting, I came home and realized that I had no idea what I was even ingesting.  My best guess is that one of them was ground up ginger.  Other than that, all I knew was what Naveed though to ask (how many does she take?).  I’ve gotta say that I’m extremely glad he was with me, because I never would have thought to ask myself!!  haha!!

One of the nausea meds we purchased
One of the nausea meds we purchased
Here's a different type.  How much of this do you understand?  Yeah...we understand about the same amount!!
Here’s a different type. How much of this do you understand? Yeah…we understand about the same amount!!

Being sick sucks…but being sick in another country is a completely different experience.  My hope is that I don’t have to deal with anything as awful as that flu again while I live in the Orient, but in case I do, I’m sure glad my mom already has Gravol on the way!!  You never know what you’re going to miss from back home until you have it!!!!

And that sums up my last week!!  Nothing    particularly exhilarating but they were experiences I won’t be soon forgetting nonetheless.

Thanks for checking in!  I’ll be back with a post about what it’s like living in a Chinese apartment soon! (A request from my nephew 🙂  Super pumped to know people are interested in even the mundane stuff here!)

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