This month I am doing a series on my favorite China moments over the past decade. These are in no particular order.
SARS. A cave. A water bucket. And, later, a closet. In the middle of SARS in 2003 most places in China, particularly the universities, were shut down. Students weren’t allowed to leave. People were afraid to go outdoors. However, not the foreign teachers! Instead, we got off campus andventured down to Guilin, southern China for the weekend. The place was almost deserted. One day we decided to visit a cave.
Problem was that the region had experienced a period of abundant rain and, therefore, flooding. However, if SARS wasn’t going to stop us, neither was a flood. We took a small boat into the cave. However, because of the rising water we got stuck and were wedged at the opening of the cave for quite some time. Being “stuck between a rock and a hard place” suddenly had new meaning. I had to lay flat on my stomach at the bottom of the boat before our guide gave up and told us we had to roll over into the water and swim to the bridge that was also under water. Then we slid around and wrestled in the mud. I was stung in the water by a bizarre bug and then I almost broke my leg sliding down these rocks, with scars on my leg to this day. In other words, it was awesome!
A few months later we went back to the same place, this time during the national holiday. It was back to its usual crowded-to-the-brim-with-people. So crowded in fact that there was literally no room at the inn…anywhere. The only option a teammate and I had was when a little old granny offered to let us sleep in her linen closet. We’ll take it!
The next day we went off the beaten path to follow a waterfall and were completely lost in the forest three hours later. Completely and utterly lost. We were preparing ourselves to spend the night in the trees, but luckily we didn’t have to. Because we are SO good at learning lessons made from dumb decisions :), the day after that we got lost during a trek through these massive rice paddies. When we came upon a village we were so thirsty that we didn’t think twice about taking large gulps of water from the bucket that our new village friend offered in exchange for us teaching him a few English words. Obviously we made it home on both counts and were spared the evils of dysentery and parasites, otherwise I wouldn’t be here telling this story. And oh what a great story to tell!