Saturday, April 2, 2011

News from Johel in Ecuador

Here is the school where Johel is volunteering for two months:

volcan tungurahua,,, activo

Who Made This Mess?

From John, Bosco's and Sugar's Dad

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Welcome Home From China, John!

I returned last week from a great trip to China which could only have been better if Eileen could have gone also, but she could not because of Sjogren's disease .  I went there to visit my son, Dtr. in law, and two grandsons who live in Shanghai. It included  a side trip to Bejing to see  and climb the Great Wall, (for which I received a Chairman Mao cap, an official tee shirt and a plaque, at a small cost)  and visit Tienemen Square and  many other things of interest. Every day was an adventure and it was a perfect vacation
Some observations:
Traffic is "controlled chaos"  Not only cars, trucks and buses, but mopeds, motorcycles, scooters, bicycles, and even carts with two large wheels that looked like they were from the 16th century piled 12-15 feet high with who knows what. These were usually being pulled by a woman while the husband sat in the driver seat. As the old cart went down the street it would be passed by a $500,000 Lamborgini. I also observed a 3 wheel vehicle that was a taxi and could hold a driver  and one passenger.  It made the Smart car look like a large SUV.
I heard more vehicle horns blown in my time in China than I have heard in my entire life in the US. My life was saved numerous times by my son and dtr. in law as I started to walk when I saw the "Walk" sign start flashing.  Pedestrians do not have the right of way and by the end of my trip I was getting pretty good at crossing the street with my head going in every direction at the same time.
The Chinese people are extremely friendly and like Americans.  They like the American lifestyle and are quickly grasping it.
Of the thousands of Chinese people I saw in my time there, I doubt if  more than 10 of them were overweight. Everyone is active and even the elderly are walking and exercising. The average longevity of the Chinese population in Shanghai is 82.
Most of the foreigners are Asian and European. I met a few Americans but not many.
Shanghai and Bejing seem to have as many Starbucks as there are in Balto. and I saw a few McDonalds and Burger Kings and even a Kenny Rogers ( must be the last one on the planet).
The only beggars I saw were legit.  Either double amputees or in very bad shape
My son said the only crime he has observed in his six years there are pick pockets. When someone does commit a crime and is caught he says you usually don't see them again.
My grandson, Harry is six and in the first grade at a private school that teaches Chinese and English. When ,I helped him with his homework it seemed like it was stuff I was learning in the 3rd or 4th grade many years ago.  They take education very seriously over there
Something funny---------------My dtr. in law, Thanh, is Vietnamese but she also speaks English and Chinese.  One day while my son was at work Thanh and I took off so she could buy Eileen some jade ear rings.  We went to many stores before she decided to try another day to find the perfect pair.  As we were walking down the street she said,  "Papa John, you see these people all stare at us?"  Being completely oblivious I said I hadn't noticed. She continued,  "They see young girl with old man and they think you my Daddy Sugar" in her Vietnamese accent.  Obviously I got a kick out that and when I told my son later he started calling me "Daddy Sugar"
It was a great vacation and I want to especially thank HK, Thanh, Harry & Eddie for being such great hosts. 
PS--------I have over 800 pictures in my camera, most of which were taken by my son and as soon as I get them out of the camera and into the computer I will forward some of the best ones.   
  PPS----I would have sent this sooner but after being up for 30 straight hours on my return trip to Balto.  I caught a horrendous cold and was at the doctor's office the next day. I am finally feeling back to normal, whatever that is..