On Tuesday we had an early morning appointment at the US Consulate, and within an hour we had sworn an oath to care for this precious girl and handed over her Chinese passport for the last step in this journey -- the receipt of Mercy’s US visa.
Feeling celebratory afterwards, we headed to the rooftop pool of our hotel. Mercy was thrilled with her pink polka-dot swimsuit. She was not thrilled with the pool. Her toes touched the water, and the remainder of the time she spent curled up in my arms, safely poolside, whimpering when Daddy even waved from the water.
After naptime we explored another park near the Marriott. We strolled under arching palm trees, watched silver-haired folks practice tai chi, waited for fishermen to pull up their catch, and listened to mamas chatting on cellphones while soothing little ones in mosquito-net clad strollers. The Ergo lost its charm long ago, and once we let sister out to run, she didn’t stop, pulling us behind her as she charged through the ever present crowds.
Unfortunately, the happy girl waving at strangers in the park fell to pieces with the last of the day’s activities -- a cruise on the Pearl River at dusk. Our travel group was gracious, and I paced the deck with a tired baby, thankful for the breeze and good conversation caught in snatches of quiet. Alex photographed the buildings and bridges, vividly luminous in undulating neon, starkly contrasted by the onboard performance of the zheng, a traditional Chinese instrument, plucked by a lovely girl wearing the traditional qipao. Perhaps it is the juxtaposition of ancient and modern in this country that has most surprised me.
It is naptime on Wednesday as I tackle the keyboard, and sister is sleeping after a quiet morning walking around Shamian Island with lovely new friends. We shared iced coffees and laughter, peeked into some shops and thoroughly enjoyed the shady gardens on this humid day. The afternoon yawns ahead of us, quiet, and as we think of our family sleeping at home, we are making plans for dim sum for dinner and further exploration of the streets of Guangzhou.