In the states, our house is within half a mile of stores, yet I always drove wherever I needed to go. Never did it dawn on me that maybe I should walk to pick up my husband's dry cleaning or buy groceries. I could've, but I didn't.
My kids are young. Too young to remember life here. Sal may remember some parts of living in China, but my guess is that he will forget most if not all of his experience here once we hit US soil. My goal for our last year here is to take pictures of the day to day stuff that wowed us when we arrived, but is now so "normal". I'd like to make a yearbook of sorts so that our family can look back and be like, "yeah, we did that".
So, today, I documented our errands. The sights we saw, the transactions made...all things we see every day but may not remember years from now.
It's been raining this week, but we were still able to roll through the mud well enough to sneak through our "secret" exit that is accessed through the green belt below our home.
We started our walk over the tiled bridge that gives us a view of the canal that runs behind our compound. It smells during summer.
On the other side of the bridge there is a strip mall below Vanke apartment complex. Our drycleaner & favorite Korean market are located here.
Right now, there is a mangy kitty (hello fleas!) outside our dry cleaners. He's cute but in terrible shape.
Here's our dry cleaner. I'm exchanging four dirty shirts for two clean today.
Our stroller doesn't fit inside so the kids wait outside while I prop the door open with my foot. One foot in the store, one hand on my stroller.
After our stop at the cleaners, we continue on across the intersection towards the market. We often pass other children riding on their Nǎinai's e-bike. This Nǎinai and her kids are riding three deep. That's a kid on the back covered in a "bike seat".
I don't judge, we do it to.
With helmets, of course.
Today there is a fire burning in the rubble of the recently demolished apartments and vegetable market.
The government has come in and torn down our produce market. The big dogs have plans for the land. Selling produce is not one of them. For now, the vendors have moved to the driveway that used to lead to their building. They set up shop under umbrellas. I'm talking everyone. Veggies, fruits, fish, pork, spices....they're all outside now. My heart hurts for them.
We buy our fruit and veggies from the same family every time. Their son speaks English, and the husband knows "banana" and "cherry". I know how to say apple, mango and watermelon in mandarin. We laugh at each other's use of the words. With admiration for trying, of course.
He always gives Sal free fruit. Today Sal got two bananas, a melon slice and a lingonberry.
Sal declined the bananas so Carla tried one. She was quite peeved with me when the banana was gone. Girlfriend can eat!
We left the market and found ourself in a traffic jam. Busses, e-bikes, pedestrians, cars, bikes and tuktuk trucks.. It's quite common for women to ride their e-bikes in mini skirts and pantyhose. Flashing is a sport here.
We made our way through, and passed our favorite roadside watermelon vendor with his new tuktuk on our way home.
We crossed the intersection towards home but had to watch for e-bikes and turning cars, as always. Crossing a street here is like playing frogger. There's the water delivery man below. $1.20 per jug, deliverd to your door.
As we approached the bridge below our compound, we passed what Sal and I call the "pee pee water" spot, in which we often see taxi drivers pull over to relieve themselves. It's just a bunch of bushes right before the bridge begins. Today we passed a taxi driver relieving himself. Naturally, I let him photobomb my selfie (then conveniently cropped myself out) to share with you all--cause I'm sneaky like that. See him next to the tree? Yeah...he's doing what you think he is.
We cross the bridge and see our block. Almost home. During winter and rain, the tiles on the bridge get slick, and I'm happy to have my stroller to help keep me from falling and busting my tailbone. I think we've all pulled a groin or two on these tiles.
We cross paths with the lady that I've told Sal is our recycling lady. She digs through the trash cans in our compound looking for recyclables. Now that my ayi is no longer, I try to put our recyclables to the side for this lady. I know she will dig anyways, but at least she won't have to dig for ours.
Through the gates...Sal will tell you not to touch the wires above, because "they will hurchew" (hurt you). Electric fences keep the bad seeds out, or so we hope.
And up the elevator...at two and almost a half, Sal can almost reach the up button. Today I gave him a boost, but I speculate that by the time we move home, he will be tall enough to reach the button himself. He loves to be my doorman.
And finally, we have arrived home...time to unpack the car, I mean...stroller.
You just walked a mile (literally) in our shoes. Thanks for joining us on our errands today.
Love, Brie & co.