1. Spiders and Green Tea and Smog, Oh My! (September 1, 2012): "My first night in Libo, I was disheartened by the dirty, noisy city bursting with nocturnal energy and gasoline exhaust outside my window, refusing to let me sleep. But by the light of day, my love of the surrounding beauty and my desire to better understand the local culture was once again renewed."
2. A Message from the Deputy General Manager (September 13, 2012): "Going out and exploring Libo and its surrounding mountains always makes me feel renewed after a week of red tape and Chinese bureaucracy has me ready to go all kung fu on the nearest Asian. (Which would probably be a horrible idea, considering the likelihood that my kung fu skills are far weaker than theirs.)"
3. An Afternoon Hike to the Local Temple (September 15, 2012): "We also talked about language itself. Alexy likes to write Chinese poetry, and he asks me all the time which word is correct in a given situation. On our hike, we discussed the differences between "gracious" and "graceful," and "ankle," "angle," and "angel." It pains me to correct his English sometimes, because I often prefer his creative phrasing. When we started on our hike, the sun was beating down on us and Alexy took the opportunity to ask me, 'Have you pasted your face with anti-violet cream?' Brilliant."
4. Four Weddings and a Funeral (September 21, 2012): "The death hit me harder than I thought it would. But instead of grieving with Big Mountain in the traditional American way, with hugs and the shedding of tears and a quiet evening remembering the deceased, I was thrust into a Buyi Comedy Funeral, which is the celebration of the life and ascension into heaven of any person above the age of 70."
5. Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous: Rural China Edition (September 25, 2012): "I'm disturbed to notice that today of all days, after three merciful weeks of no bites, I've awoken with an enormous mosquito (or spider?) bite on my face, just below my left eye. It has the unfortunate effect of making me look like I have just been punched in the face. I hastily apply cover-up, which infuriates the bite and makes my eye water from the itching. But you know what the stars say--beauty is pain."
6. Chinese Tea Party (October 6, 2012): "After the conference, all 75 or so attendees filed out of the conference room and downstairs to the ballroom, where tea was in fact being served. The air quickly filled with cigarette smoke and the sound of fifty people speaking loudly on their cell phones at the same time, as is typical at Chinese functions such as this. After about 30 minutes of settling-in time, where the attendees found their assigned seats, enjoyed a moon cake or two in honor of the Mid Autumn Festival, and caught up on nicotine and voicemails, the party really got started."
7. The China Diet: October Update (October 6, 2012): “On our way back to the office from a meeting one day, the weather was hot and Alexy recommended we try a traditional Guizhou treat for sunny weather. I was of course willing to check it out, but when I saw the street vendor ladling clear, wiggling jello out of a bucket and into a bowl for me, I got nervous.”
8. Trip to Qian Dongnan Region (October 7, 2012): "This is a place where government propaganda touting the importance of keeping your babies, even if they are girls, is plastered on crumbling walls. Its inhabitants look perpetually exhausted--women bent with age and malnutrition, thin teenage mothers with heavy breasts and fat babies strapped to their backs, men with tanned skin and far more wrinkles than teeth. Only the children are full of energy, running through the streets chasing after wild dogs and roosters, oblivious to the occasional moped or car speeding recklessly through the village."
9. Hiking in Maolan (October 21, 2012): "Although the hike was a training exercise, the men acted more like boys on a field trip, singing traditional Chinese songs, whooping and hollering, and generally making mischief. Some of the more serious hikers engaged in a race, but most of us concentrated on not slipping on the rocks as we climbed (sometimes using our hands)."
10. Qiuyu's Birthday (October 26, 2012): "Americans, who are trained in the art of cake-eating, would notice that something was a little different because of the olive oil, but I don't think anyone would necessarily think it was a bad thing. Overall, I was really quite proud of myself for this creation."
11. Shang-high (November 18, 2012): "Shanghai has the ability to take the assumptions I have about myself and turn them upside down. I find that I am able to slip seamlessly into the jostling fray of elbows and high heels and caffeine. After just a few hours there, I already look at myself differently in the mirror."
12. Guzang Festival in Leishan (November 27, 2012): "When we returned to the village Tuesday morning to observe the 'festivities,' the air was rife with the sound of shrieking animals. It was a horrific display, but necessary for the villagers. The pigs were slaughtered and then divided among the grown children in each household; relatives from near and far traveled to the village to celebrate, yes, but also to claim their share."
And don't forget the updates in the "My Kitchen" section of this site:
1. Citrus Olive Oil Cake (October 20, 2012): "Miracle of miracles, I now have access to an oven in China! Granted it fits on a counter top and looks more like an oversize toaster than anything else, but it works! And last week, I baked Big Mountain a cake for his birthday. (The oven is his, by the way. Purchased in my honor.)"
2. Qiuyu's Birthday Cake (October 26, 2012): "I'm sharing the recipe with you just in case you have similar ingredient constraints (maybe you're baking in rural Panama, I don't know!) or maybe you're opposed to butter (I'm sorry) for health reasons."
3. Thanksgiving in Shanghai (November 23, 2012): "When I took a pre-shopping inventory, I discovered a quirky assortment of gadgets, like a tool for peeling and sectioning a grapefruit in one motion, a set of colorful silicon potholders, an immersion blender still in the original packaging, and a display drawer full of German spices that were long expired and 'just for show.' Mysteriously absent, however, were any oven-proof dishware, mixing bowls, measuring spoons, or typical kitchen stand-bys like butter or flour."
If you missed any of these posts, I encourage you to take a closer look. If you use the widely recognized mathematical equation of A Picture (P) = 1000 Words, P + [Number of Actual Words] = Total Number of Words, you will be amazed at how long and well-written some of my entries are.
But this wouldn't be a real 100th day post if I didn't tell you something new now, would it? So I think I'll take this opportunity to fill you in a little bit on our marina project in Libo. To keep things informative, here is a step-by-step program for anyone out there who'd like to give it a try:
Step #1: Unload boats from enormous truck. (Or, "Everyone stand around in a circle with your jaws dropped, and wait for someone else to come up with how to get these boats out of the truck without the use of a forklift.")
(Or, "Pay an unfortunate sum of money to hire security for the boats while you wait until the technicians from Shenzhen have time to come all the way to Guizhou to teach you how to install fuel tanks and wire engines.")
Step #3: Utilize a creative, slightly unorthodox method of getting the boats onto the trailer.
(Or, "Nervously sweat through your clothes and try not think about liability issues as your coworkers are hoisted into the air to balance out the boat as it swings precariously side to side.")
(Or, "Send up a silent prayer of thanks for the overpopulation problem in China, which ensures that you always have enough manpower to physically tow your own boats.")
(Or, "Sweat nervously through your clothes as you narrowly avoid enormous rocks and experience firsthand the necessity to trim the motor up when in shallow waters.")
(Or, "Sorry boss. We . . . well, we didn't actually build a marina yet. But if we nail tires into the first two steps and cover the bottom one with sandbags, that's basically the same thing, right?!")
And now we know how to install fuel tanks and wire engines ourselves, so that means if we ever need to repeat the process, we can save ourselves some time and money during Step #2.
Overall, I'm still amazed that nothing that bad actually happened throughout this whole process. Winning!
Our main job at the marina now is engaging in the rare and unpopular sport of hunting down the elusive and mysterious Wintero Touristus. (Or, "Marketing.")
If you read my post, "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous: Rural China Edition," (see above) you'll recall that even back in September, I was on my way to becoming a local celebrity in Libo. Our marketing efforts are furthering that effort, and my picture is now proudly featured in hotels and noodle shops all over town. I do not design the advertisements myself, so imagine my surprise when I found this on my desk Monday morning . . .