We have been able to communicate with ease via email and skype. In fact, Geoff participated in a business meeting this morning at Starbucks using Skype and it worked like he was next door, but I cannot post pictures and happenings to facebook. I must reply on friends and fellow bloggers in the states to post to my blog (anything with the word BLOG in it has been blocked.) and youtube is out of the question.
Early in the trip I asked Catherine, our guide, if she kept in touch with the families she guided . "Yes," she said, "but it used to be easier with facebook." I sensed a bit of sadness in her voice, but later she told us that she believes that the government blocks this website for the good of the people, and Geoff and I nod and smile. She has too good a job to say anything else. She is employed by a Western company and gets to travel all over China escorting Americans and helping them build their new family. Catherine is tour guide, bureaucratic wrangler, translator, mother, baby whisperer, photographer, concierge and above all an angel. I can't imagine having made this trip without her at our side. She has been invaluable and worth every penny we paid. When we part tonight I will cry, as I feel she has been a friend to us in many ways.
As a gift, I gave her some American magazines (Time and People) that she can't get at home. I also gave her the book I brought about travel in China. (See Esmerelda's Bookthing in a few more days.) She tells me she is a reader and I promise to send her some of my favorite Chinese American fiction to read. She seems excited about the prospect. The Time magazine was a year in review and had a picture of the masses outside 's inauguration. I told her I was there, and I promised if she ever came to the US, I would give her a tour of DC. She would like to come someday.
As a last act of her incredible forward thinking and spirit of the group, she arranged a group photo with all the children in their traditional chinese outfits. She will give them to us tonight at our farewell dinner.
So this one's for you dear Catherine, my hope is that one day you can read this blog, and know that you have made a big difference in many people's lives. People all over the US who have traveled with you speak your name with respect. You honor your country well. I will miss you most when I leave your lovely country.