We’re officially done with teaching for the 2013 year and we celebrated by saving a tiny baby puppy and having a Philippine dinner. From the title of the post you might have assumed we saved a puppy from the dinner but our story is not nearly as upsetting or dramatic as that (thankfully).
On our way to lunch this morning we were riding down the road right outside of our school when we noticed a group of bicyclists (and motorists) all just staring at the ground (and, of course, causing a road block). When we rode up we saw what they were all staring at (but doing nothing about) – a very tiny, very scared, very cold little puppy trying desperately to cross the road. We stopped to get a better look at him right as he ran underneath a parked car and the rubber-neckers decided it was time to leave. We stayed and watched him a bit until he came right up to our feet and started sniffing at us. He sniffed our hands and looked up at us but we could tell he was extremely frightened (probably lost) and freezing because his whole body was trembling pretty violently. We also noticed that his eyes looked funny and once Duncan stooped down to pick him up we realized he’s so young his eyes probably haven’t been open for very long at all.
Concerned about his fragility and instantly taken by his cuteness (probably influenced by his helplessness), I held him close to my chest while Duncan drove the bike to QLH where we would decide what to do next. We felt we could not in good conscience leave him alone on Dong Er Huan (the road in front of our school) to face certain death. (In general, we have noticed a very different attitude towards animals from Chinese people as compared to Americans. Drivers will not change their path if an animal is in the road nor will people go out of their way to make sure an animal – or a human – is ok if appearing injured (partially because of the way medical bills are occasionally handled here). Animal rights are a pretty big issue in the US and I do consider my cat, Desmond, my fur-baby.)
Only a couple of days ago we had a conversation with Samantha about how she was considering buying a dog for her parents because, in her words, they have been paying too much attention to her and it’s driving her crazy. (This isn’t “normal” parental fussing; this is Chinese parental fussing which is a whole new league of ridiculously nosey attention which, for Samantha, includes setting up blind dates and showing up unannounced at her apartment while she’s at work and then fussing at her that they could not get in without her.)
We were skeptical that it would actually work out this way but when we arrived at QLH, walked in carrying a tiny baby puppy, and told her we found her a dog, she said she would love to have him. At first she was afraid we had bought it for her since she mentioned she had to save up money before she could afford a new distraction for her parents, but once we shared our story with her she was absolutely thrilled and immediately called Johnson down from upstairs to go with us to her apartment to get the puppy set up until she got off work a couple of hours later. And that’s exactly what we did. Johnson went with us to the apartment, we found a big box that we put a blanket inside of, and after trying to get him to drink some water (when we realized he’s also too young to be weaned from his mother) and watching him try to walk around for a little bit but repeatedly almost falling over because he was so sleepy, we settled him into his new box-home where he pretty much immediately passed out. Content that he was now in good hands we left, grabbed some lunch, and headed back to the school for our afternoon classes.
With exams and classes officially over, we headed over to another foreign teacher’s apartment for a little get together we’d planned earlier in the week. At one of the local universities there are several Philippine teachers who have been here for over a year and are also frequent patrons of QLH. We’ve struck up a friendship and (as a result of their excellent English and great personalities) have ended up having some really fascinating conversations about cultural differences between China, the Philippines, and the US.
After grabbing a quick coffee “da bao” (the sounds must be swallowed otherwise people will have absolutely no idea that you are requesting your order “to-go”), we met up with Samantha to share a cab over to the apartment (when we found out the puppy drank some milk out of an ketchup bottle top – ingenious on her part – and had a shower and was sleeping a lot). Johnson was already over there when we got there with a couple more Philippine teachers and we spent a wonderful evening eating (way too much of) a magnificent Philippine dinner while we chatted, watched Game of Thrones, discussed Internet memes, and introduced Johnson and Samantha to YouTube (via compilations of funny commercials) thanks to that apartment’s VPN.
We had to end the night a bit earlier than we would have wanted so that we could get home by curfew and with time to prepare for our trip (laundry, cleaning, packing, etc.) and so that Samantha and Johnson could check on the puppy (who they’ve tentatively named Gaga or Xiao JJ).
In preparation for the week off we have unintentionally cleaned out the apartment. Yesterday, we ran out of water in our big water jug (think 1990s work water cooler) and we have been using store-bought water bottles since then (because the tap water is not drinkable). We used the last of our milk this morning in our coffees; and we have no food in the refrigerator other than some cans (yes, cans) of watered yogurt (a Christmas gift from some friends) and Christmas apples (how the Chinese celebrate Christmas).
Today was a fantastic day that just kept getting better. Eighth grade students told me they were happy I will continue teaching them next term and that they approve of my decision to stay in China over the holiday break rather than returning to the States; we saved an adorable but lost puppy (which made Duncan’s wish for one even stronger); we had a superb home-cooked traditional Philippine meal with our friends; and through it all reveled in our joy of the life we live and have the pleasure of sharing with one another.
I’ve been feeling a little homesick since I realized half of next year, 2014, will be spent in China, but after tonight when I was realizing and appreciating the friendships we’ve made here in just four months (some of which was just spent finding our feet beneath us), I am looking forward to what else is to come in the coming year.
And what better way to usher it in than to visit one of China’s oldest and most historically rich cities – Xi’an. The next few posts will be from a conveniently located hostel in the ancient city.
Until then, thank you for reading!