Our second day in Beijing and its surroundings featured a visit to the Great Wall, the best known landmark of China. Taylor and Jordan were excited to experience what they’d only seen in pictures and video from our last adoption trip. We had about ninety minutes to venture up, but it took much less for Janet and me to realize that our thigh muscles were woefully inadequate for the task of keeping up. We and Elijah, who bravely soldiered up the nearly vertical steps himself and only faltered when it came time to go back down, made it to the first tower, several hundred feet above the parking lot. The teenage twosome made it well past a third tower before turning back. The picture below was taken by them to give perspective to the vertical distance they traveled. The flat paved area in the lower left of the picture is where we started.
After our long drive out and back and our stamina-testing climb, the entire adoption travel group stopped for a too-large Chinese dinner at a nearby jade factory. As you can see, we had a wide variety of interesting dishes to try… the pictures shows only the first half that were delivered. Most were delicious, but a few were challenging. (At one meal, we had a discussion with our guide about the relative merits of donkey burgers versus the usual beef. She assured us that donkey was good, but expensive. Fortunately, no donkey was available.)
After our dinner, we made a stop at the Olympic Pavilion which was built by the Chinese especially for the 2008 Summer Olympics. We got to see the Bird Nest Stadium, where the opening and closing ceremonies were held. It’s a huge, uniquely-styled building. (To give some scale, you can see Taylor in the lower right corner of the picture. Notice she is taller than everyone else in the picture, which makes her and her older brother objects of some curiosity here.) We also saw the Water Cube, the oddly-textured, blue-colored building, which has the appearance of being “wet,” where most of the swimming and diving events were held.
I was particularly fascinated by the medals wall. It bears a faint resemblance to the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC, which is a series of polished stone panels bearing the names of soldiers who died in that conflict. The Olympic medals wall is a series of stone panels bearing the names of every athlete who won a medal at the 2008 Games. Next to each name is a circular indentation colored to match the medal. I took a picture of the panel which bears swimmer Michael Phelps’ name six times, once for each of six Olympic golds he won. He won two more, but I couldn’t get them all into one photograph. Our guide pointed him out and commented on what a great competitor he was.
We enjoyed the history and sights of the past two days. It gave us a chance to recover from jet lag and to get to know our fellow travelers, so that we’re better prepared to tackle what comes next, bringing our little girl into our family. This morning, Sunday, we boarded a plane from Beijing to Guiyang, a city in mountainous, south central China. Elijah wasn’t super happy to be back on a plane, but he made the best of it by buckling his best friend, Daniel Bear, into the seat with him.
When we arrived, we were met by the guide who will walk us through the actual adoption meetings. He took us to the Novotel Hotel, which will be our residence for the next five days while we meet with officials, sign paperwork, and get to know Peyton. Due to a very mild mix-up with respect to room assignments, the hotel graciously upgraded each of the three families in our Guiyang travel group ended to suite-like rooms with fantastic 120-degree views of downtown Guiyang. (The kids were actually impressed, despite the conclusion you might get from the picture below.)
Tomorrow is the big day. At 2:00 pm, Monday, which is 11:00 pm, Sunday, for all of our family and friends on the West Coast of the US, we will walk into a room at the Guizhou Civil Affairs Office and meet Peyton for the first time. From that moment, she will be our daughter. What a crazy thing. If you’re still awake then, we’d greatly appreciate your prayers, especially for peace for her as her life is turned upside down. We’ll tell you how it’s going as soon as time allows. Until then, we are grateful to all of you for everything you’ve done to make this possible.