We all woke up early because CIEE had a trip planned to Xuanwu Lake. The instant we got outside, everyone agreed we couldn’t have picked a worse day. Soaring into the nineties with a humidity around seventy five percent, we sweat enough to fill the very lake itself. I also made the unfortunate decision to wear a long sleeved shirt because it had been the only shirt I had had after the shower the night before. The fact that it was made of cotton also didn’t help. I tried rolling the sleeves up, but that soon proved to have no results. Thus, I did what I had to do: I took my shirt off. I sprayed myself with insect repellant to be proactive.
Somehow it didn’t work well. I still sweat more than everyone else. I blame it on coming from a desert (Colorado).
Soon, Sam, Kris, her roommate, and I found ourselves in a foot peddle boat. It took us about half an hour to figure out how to steer it and another fifteen minutes before we realized that peddling too fast yielded no results. Sam and I found out the hard way. We watched the girls use almost no energy to propel us faster than Sam and I could. I guess our strength proved to be our downfall.
Another fifteen minutes passed of mingling with the other CIEE boats, latching together, and heading back to the dock. By that time, sweat drenched both Sam and me. Not that it should have surprised me. Here in Nanjing, I sweat thinking about sweating.
As I got set to leave to give myself time to do my six hundred-word composition, another cloud of misfortune set above me. Whereas the airport incident came as next to no surprise because I knew I would have problems when I couldn’t speak the language, this one hit me when I had settled down a little.
Lanier, Maggie, Kayleigh, two Chinese roommates and I got lunch at Dongbei (northwest) where we had chicken, tofu, vegetables, soup, rice, and pork. I had more than my fill. I only regret not being able to take the leftover food with me. But I had to leave.
We walked all the way back. Somehow we found an American store that had everything ridiculously priced. Many “oohs” and “aahs” later, we left. Then, Lanier, Kayleigh, and I got some gelato at Skyways Restaurant for less than a buck and half. We ate at the restaurant, talking about inconsequential topics. We returned to the dorm where I studied a little, learning new vocabulary words with the help of Rodolphe.
Unaware of the doom awaiting me, I went to find my bike behind the school. And, to my great surprise, I couldn’t find the damn thing. My first impression: someone stole it. However . . . well, this time I have no however. Someone had stolen it. A few swear words and waves of dismay later, I made the dreaded call to my Shushu. For some reason, he didn’t seem angry, only concerned about getting me home. According to him, I had locked it up and it wasn’t my fault. That’s not something I am used to. So I calmed down a little.
My Shushu told me to take a taxi back, but I didn’t know the address. To top it off, a damned monsoon hit the city and I soaked instantly. Keeping a raincoat I borrow from Kathryn over my backpack because of a camera I had in there, I walked to the street to hail a taxi.
That’s where I should have just said no.
A car pulled up with a woman in the front seat. I didn’t see a taxi sign over the car, so I assumed they might be a caring couple concerned for my health. I don’t know what prompted me to make that assumption. I got in the car and gave him the phone after I called my Shushu so he could know where to go.
The guy took us first to drop off the lady, which already disproved my original theory. Then, I gave him the phone again. He thought he knew where to go. When he got there, it didn’t look familiar to me, so I didn’t get out. After another phone call to my Shushu and a large amount of arguing on everyone's part, my Shushu told me to get out of the car and wait for him. Thus, I waited.
He came on his bike. We walked back to his house, which, it turned out, was not too far away. He assured me that I would get another bike and that I don’t have to pay him, but I may have to find a way to sneak it to him. Perhaps in a red envelope.
In any case, we had a dinner of chopped pork, pork with winter melon, pork with green peppers, and spicy carrots. I then left the dinner table for room where I did my homework, doing as much as I could to make this past experience seem less embarrassing than it actually was.