The journey home was grueling, but Ariana was a trooper. It was 28 1/2 hours from the time we left our hotel until my sister picked us up. She only fussed for a couple of hours on the Beijing-Chicago flight and luckily I could walk around with her and that kept her pacified. The girl does enjoy a little turbulence too!
Our plane was late landing in Chicago leaving us with only about an hour and a half to get through U.S. Customs, a checkpoint to process Ariana's immigration paperwork (and X-ray our bags again?!), recheck our luggage, and get to the gate for our flight to Madison. We hustled and pleaded our way through only to find just as we checked our luggage that our flight was cancelled. Unbeknownst to us at the time, there were tornadoes around the country that day that impacted many flights. We had about 5 minutes to decide if we wanted to take a 3 1/2 hour shuttle bus. We got Ariana some apple juice from McDonald's, changed her diaper, washed a bottle with hot water that they charged us for, borrowed a stranger's cell to call my sister, and we were on our way. To be sure life is always an adventure.
A few hours later we got off a bus in a freezing cold spring wind. None of us had winter jackets and only part of Ariana's cute red, white, and blue outfit remained. I was exhausted, knew I had a sinus infection, and was covered in pee and Chinese teething biscuits. Nevertheless, we were excited and surprised to see a small but enthusiastic welcoming party waiting outside in the cold for us! I have to say, I was never so happy so arrive anywhere.
As much as we enjoyed our stay in China, it really makes one appreciate being American. Some notable things we found we take for granted:
- Clean air - if you've been reading you already know how bad the smog is. In fact, on the journey home when we touched down in Beijing we were surprised to see the sun shining. Later, while waiting to board our plane we chatted with an American whose daughter lives in Beijing. She told us that it was clear because the previous day they had launched some sort of rocket that makes it rain. This is something they do periodically to clear things out when the smog gets really bad!
- Water you can use right from the tap!
- Freedom of Speech - the whole time we were in China we had to use a VPN server in order to access our blog
|Last smoggy morning in China|
|Goodbye shop owners. They would've liked us to stay so they could've gotten more of our money!|
|Goodbye fancy White Swan Hotel|
|Goodbye Li Ping, (one of our guides.) He wrote the 7-year olds notes in Chinese. I wish I would've asked him to write something to Ariana.|
|Just before takeoff on Ariana's first flight which was from Guangzhou to Beijing. She did great!|
|Who knew we'd be arriving like this?|
|Cuteness! B. rocked the pajamas and rainboots.|
|Touchdown at OHare International. Ariana is a citizen of the United States of America!|
|Welcome signs my family made for the airport-adorable.|
|Getting to know my new cousin. A few puffs don't hurt.|