Thursday, August 16, 2007

We've Been Here A Week

Amy is a bit sick. She started yesterday with a bit of a head cold and this evening she was running a bit of a fever. The fever has resided now, but she is still coughing and wheezing.

I think it is a bit of a bug that has been going around as several people we know has had similar symptoms.

I’ve talked before about the communal aspect of SMIC (Ok I just looked through my notes and it doesn't appear that I have, but it is a very communal place) And today proved it once again. Bethany and I were on our way to the Buster and Amy’s place.

I don’t believe I have introduced them yet. They are Brian’s sister and her husband. They also have a little boy who is maybe 6, or 10 or something, and they just very recently adopted a little Chinese baby. They are swell and will figure into this story quite a lot I suspect.

We were headed to their place because we had mailed a box of winter clothes to their house so as to not pay extra on the plane, and because Bethany and Brian are going to move soon and we weren’t sure when the box would arrive.

As we walked to their abode, their little boy came running to us saying that Buster and Amy were with the box, headed the other direction. We crossed the way to meet them and chatted a little bit. As we chatted a friend of theirs, whom I also had earlier met that day, stopped by and chatted. A few minutes later one of the administrators from the school passed by and chatted.

We were quite the little crowd. So much so that a few little girls stopped and just stared. Bethany says in mainland China they would often have gawkers trying to glimpse the Caucasians.

Money is starting to get a little thin. They say China is cheap, and it is true. The exchange rate is so to the American favor that our money is stretched a long ways. At the same time though, things add up.

Take this afternoon for instance. We went to each lunch with some friends. I had a sandwich and Amy had soup. We both had soft drinks. The total was about 120 Yuan which is about $16. That’s about what you’d pay in the states for a similar meal. It sounds more, but then makes you feel better when you convert it to dollars, but then I realize that it isn’t exactly cheap either.

Then we went to one of the bigger markets, Carefour. We bought a shower curtain, couple of towels, silver wear and some food. It came to 300 Yuan which converts to roughly forty bucks. Now that’s cheaper than what you could get the same for in the US, but still it is 300 Chinese bucks.

Each day is like this. We have to go shopping for this household item or another. We have to take a taxi to get there. Then we have to eat, which means dining out, which means more money.

It all adds up.

Now to my family who is starting to worry, don’t. We are way ok. We still have about 4,000 Yuan and we’ve made most of our bigger purchases and we can now buy groceries which will save a lot. My worry comes more from realizing how quickly we burned through some of our cash, and the uncertainty of when we will get paid again, and how much that will be.

But rest assured, even if we go broke, we have enough friends and family here to help us through.

One week ago at this very moment we were sitting in Chicago, at the airport, waiting for our long flight. This week has been a really great one. I didn’t think I would like it here so much, nor get to know so many people so quickly. In some ways the week has gone by very quickly, and in other ways it went very slowly. Such is life I suppose.

In a couple of days Amy has orientation and I’ll meet with my potential tutoree. Things are about to get crazy.

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