Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Toilet Building

Hm...

We are staying in a 5 star hotel here in the villages.  Actually it has a frowny face and a C rating which we all agree is a bit high.  It's luxury.  It is a bed and an occasional hot shower and that part we are thankful for!  This was my view from the room for the first week.  I'm in a different room now.

We've been here for a week now and we're exhausted.  Building toilets is hard work.  Mixing concrete for days, putting it into buckets, carrying it to the drop off place, plastering septic chambers, moving lids, washing it all off.  It's a lot more work than you'd think just for a giant poop hole (that's what we all call it so get used to me referring to it as such).

So... poop holes.  We're in these straight up Chinese villages and they are beautiful.  Most of the people here are minority and therefore don't all speak Mandarin.  They are the sweetest people ever.  Part of the deal for them getting a toilet is that they have to make lunch for us.  We move to a new house every few days so multiple people have cooked for us and it's incredible!  I love Chinese food!  There were 3 dogs at the last house we were at.  We named them Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.  Lunch was this cute little puppy and we were all so in love with him, but the last day we had some strange meat at lunch and that whole day we never saw Lunch.  We keep joking that we had Lunch for lunch, but I think we're all a bit scared that we actually did.

Lids for the poop hole.



The people in the villages love saying hi to us and I've even heard them refer to us as the people who build toilets as we walk by them!  Haha.  There have been groups coming in for the last 4 months and we are the last group.  The villagers are starting to take over and do it.

Random house in the village that makes their own alcohol! YUP!


Today we were helping a local contractor and his way of doing things is different, but very effective and fast.  Today was our easiest day so far and I think our tiredness caught up to all of us because it's only 7 and we are all wanting to just fall asleep.
Dumping bricks from a Chinese tractor.  That was fun to watch.
Poop hole foundation.

On the weekends we get to go into the larger city near us.  I went there around Thanksgiving and I loved it so I'm very happy about getting to go there 2 more times before I leave China.  Last weekend we helped the owner set up a Tibetan tent.  It was a strange event, but I enjoyed it.  They are pretty cool.  They have cheesecake and a large pizza oven and old town is fun and pretty.  It's just dandy.

We went to a temple in town and snuck some pictures.


An entire park filled with people playing cards & mahjong.
We only have 2 more days out in the villages before we spend out last weekend at our cute little lodge and then we actually make our way back to LC because some other plans fell through.  The rest of the group (all 3 of them) will be going with us and we'll be doing some sort of work there until the rest arrive for English camp.

One month and 3 days and I'll be on US soil again.  Sushi here I come!!!

-Hails

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Packing Up

I'm insanely tired so please ignore spelling, grammar and any other type of mistakes that happen during this post.

Today was packing day.  Evan made pretzels and we made some cookies just to try and get rid of a lot of ingredients I have here.  Peanut butter gallons have been condensed into a small tupperware and my counter has a nice assortment of food just laying out.

We hop on a bus tomorrow morning.  I am officially done tutoring AND teaching.  Grades have been turned in and my last day in LC is almost complete.


On Sunday, Evan and I went up to the farm just to hang out and see how empty it was I guess.  We ended up staying til late in the evening and Evan cooked dinner for everyone.  He made jambalaya while I went with the older kids to free their frog and it's tadpoles.  We threw in some JustDance and then got a ride from them back into town.  It was quite a lovely day!






Yesterday, Evan, Locke & I went up to see Jenny now that she's back in her hometown.  I love going there and was really excited for Evan to finally see it.  We spent the majority of the day there and it was really nice.  I love that girl so much.  And Locke also.











We picked these little plums from her yard, went down to where the market is usually running, made our way to the lake, learned how to play mahjong, went to dinner, and then headed back to town and went on an insane hunt for mahjong tiles because I desperately wanted them.  Of course, we didn't find any until this morning!  BUT, all is well.  I finally found them and they are wonderful, but all packed up sadly.

Tomorrow we are off to begin a 2 week project of digging/plastering/installing septic tanks in a village about 5 hours away from here.  That should be some intense work, but on the weekends we get to head to the 'old city' and be tourists and relax for a few days before we go back for another week of work.

I'm sad that my time here trying to blend in as a local is over.  Very, very sad.  But, I am excited for the next few weeks, and excited that I get to do it all with Evan.  I am extremely thankful for him and have been enjoying every single second I get to spend with him.  It has been flying by too!

I'll attempt to post something next weekend when I know I'll have internet access.

-6 weeks-

Also, here is a random picture of Evan playing Jenga.  Ok, I'm done now.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Basketball Camp & Scavenger Hunt

Evan's week of slaving over multiple grills is over now and he's actually back in town.

Things went really well for him.  The cooking facilities were definitely different from what he's used to, but he got things figured out pretty quickly and then everything went great.  The kids loved him.  He had a nice group; not too big and chaotic.  I got to spend the last 3 days up there for most of the day.  I had to come back at night to tutor and then would just go back up in the morning and help him out.  LONG days of cooking they were.  I don't know how he cooks for a living.  I would die.
Evan's kitchen for the week. 


Evan decorating Alli. War paint status. 


Summary of us.
It's finals week for me now.  I am officially done with 3 of my classes. One more final next week and then grades to finish off and send to my boss.  It's almost done!

The huge camp is going on now.  Evan and I put together a pretty cool scavenger hunt in town for all of the kids at the camp.  That happened this morning.  It was part photo scavenger hunt and part timed challenges at various locations in the park.  A few of our tasks were removed due to their potential to frustrate some parents (we wanted one challenge to be an eyebrow shaving station.  Each team would get 70 pts for every eyebrow shaved off of their team members, but each member could only shave one eyebrow, not both.)  We also had an egg thing that would carry on through the whole event but I guess one of the kids is deathly allergic to raw eggs so we had to scratch that also.



One challenge required a player from each team to fit a whole order of baozi in their mouth (7 pieces). 

Hop scotch.
Evan and I rented a little paddle boat and cruised around the lake while the groups were all finishing their tasks.  It was fun.  Those boats are pretty strange.  If I paddled, it was fine, but if we both tried to we didn't really go anywhere.  It was fun though.

There are ALWAYS people napping on the benches in the pagoda in the park. ALWAYS. Sometimes homeless people, sometimes business men. Sometimes people play violin and sometimes women are knitting. It's quite great.
Last night was my last night of tutoring with my little ones.  It's pretty awful knowing I won't see most of them again.  We had a really fun night though.  We always do though.  Two more nights of goodbyes and then it'll be easier for a few days.  I am very anxious for our next few adventures once we leave LC.  And then Evan and I (really just Evan) made deep fried oreos and decided to throw some nutella & peanut butter and then roll them in cinnamon sugar... because we're healthy like that.


Oh, Gordon. Cutest little Chinese boy ever. 

Meditation after our ninja fight we had after class. 
If you see her wandering around America, it's because I snuck her back with me. 

The best part of this week has been seeing Jenny 2 days in a row.  Yesterday she brought Nicole with her and the 4 of us (those 2, myself and Evan) went to get ice cream and do some shopping.  Today Jenny met us at the park and we hung out for a bit.  We are planning on going to her hometown (near the farm) early next week.  Evan hasn't been there yet and it's one of my favorite places to go around here so that will be a fun outing.


AND... Evan bought a remote controlled helicopter. He's currently flying it around my apartment. I'm a bit paranoid. 
It's 3 million degrees here right now!  WAY HOT!  It's supposed to be rainy season but apparently all of the clouds have died and the sun is just beating down on us.  It's crazy.  It's gorgeous outside but insanely hot.

That's about all for now.  Time to start packing up the apartment and figuring out how much stuff I've accumulated in the last few months on top of what I already brought home in January. AH!

-Hails