Today was our appointment at the US Consulate. The medical exam results from Saturday were in, and it was time to go apply for a visa for Leo. I don’t have any pictures for this portion of the post because the consulate doesn’t allow: cameras, cell phones, backpacks, wristwatches, ink pens, or strollers. The consulate just moved to this new location recently, and it was a complex with a few buildings. The back part had a high privacy fence and as we came around the front, there was a blue plastic barricade. There were a lot of Chinese people waiting around the barricade area, I assume because they came with people who were inside. We went through the barricade, and then to a separate security building. We had to show our passports and when our name was matched to the appointment list, we were let into the inner courtyard.
Once we entered the main building, we were sent to a separate area upstairs. We could see the main area down below where Chinese citizens waited in a long line that snaked around like the wait for a popular amusement park ride. Our room was specifically for adoptions and there was a playhouse and several toys for children. We sat with our paperwork and waited with the other families who had this appointment time. After a few minutes an American man began to give us instructions by using a microphone on the other side of bulletproof glass. Apparently, they don’t take any chances even though we all went through security. Unfortunately, because of the tile floor, lots of of shiny wall surfaces, and a large amount of loud children, it was difficult for all of us to understand him. Eventually we rose to take “the oath.” I’ve read several accounts of people who said they teared up taking the oath so I assumed it was like the promises we made to China to care for Leo, to not abuse him, to love him, and provide him with an education. What really happened was that we swore we hadn’t falsified any documents. A little anti-climactic, but okay. Then we were called to the window one by one while a consulate employee went over our paperwork. We left Leo’s passport and it will be returned tomorrow with a US entry visa sticker in it.
After we got home, we decided to go back to the street where we found three bakeries and buy a cake to celebrate. While the consulate employee stressed that Leo is not a citizen and won’t be until his paperwork is processed when we return to the US, we don’t anticipate having a lot of time to celebrate before we have to run and catch our connecting flight. We choose one cake, but the employee talked us out of it, making faces to indicate that she didn’t think we would like it. We chose the one she recommended, and then headed back. Mary Evelyn wanted to stop in a tea shop to buy a tea pot, so we made another stop.
The owner went through a little ritual to give us samples of tea. There was a machine that cleaned and sterilized the little cups, so she removed some cups from that. There was one of the great instant tea pots they have here that boil water in 30 seconds. She put loose tea leaves in a small pot and poured the water over it after covering it with a lid. She then poured out a sample of tea over an area that had a decorative drain to catch any tea that spilled out. She also filtered out the tea leaves for us. The Chinese usually drink their tea with the leaves still in it. On the street you see many people with water bottles that have tea leaves floating around on the bottom slung over the handlebars of their bikes. After we bought some tea, we made a quick stop at the McDonald’s that is right next to our hotel. Leo decided he also likes fries.
After naptime (and more laundry), we were ready to get out of the hotel room again. We decided to go back to Yuexiu Park since it seemed like we had just scratched the surface there. We rented a stroller from the hotel to see if Leo liked that any more than the ergo carrier. He really gets unhappy in the heat, and being strapped to someone’s back can heat you up fast. We had another really great walk in the park. We found the old Guangzhou city walls that were built during the Ming dynasty.
We found Zhenhai Tower, and watched a team practicing on the soccer field. We walked to the Sun Yat-sen memorial, and found a wonderful view of the city close to sunset.
Then we walked back to the hotel. Matt picked up some carry-out and decided what to order by asking the guy at the stand what was most popular. We all ate noodles and mystery meat and then had the cake for dessert. The bakery lady had given us a birthday party in a box, including little paper plates that said happy birthday, a cake server, forks, and a pack of candles. I saved the candles for Leo’s real birthday next week. It was the perfect end to a great day.