Sunday, August 26, 2007

Ship Of Fools

So on Saturday Katrina went to a "paperwork meeting," in which the wives of the group gather with our Holt supervisor to ensure that our adoption and visa paperwork is in order. The husbands are of at least normal intelligence, college-educated, in many cases bearing advanced degrees and holding down jobs requiring intricate documentation; nevertheless, there is a consensus among the women that they should handle the paperwork unless they are actively being sick at that moment. They are probably right.

Anyway, Katrina came back from the meeting eagerly reportng that we were scheduled to take a boat tour of the river that night. This was something or a surprise. We are not a seafaring people in my family. Several of the most cherished legends of my clan involve boats capsizing or being knocked out of boats or otherwise using boats for purposes other than staying dry. But I thought what the heck.

We arrived at the dock area adjacent to the hotel at the appointed hour that night. Elaina was safely ensconsed in her carrier.

The carrier is not designed with hot and humid environments in mind. It raises the respective body temperatures of the carrier and caryee precipitously.

Fortunately it was raining too hard to get really hot. Not a mild rain, not a tentative rain, a very deliberate hard pounding rain. And there was lightening. And thunder. Elaina looked up at me as if to say "surely you aren't serious." Several mothers, Katrina among them, politely asked our guide if it is safe to take a small craft into a river in a thunderstorm. The guide replied that the captain had assured her it was remarkably safe.

We walked to the boat. Katrina and I were wearing Crocs; just as well, as feet were soaked. The boat did have a canopy and cabin:

We awkwardly furled our umbrellas to climb the gangplank and crammed into the small space under the canopy at the back of the boat. I elected not to mention to Katrina that the captain looked uncannily like an Asian version of Quint from "Jaws." We sat wiping our camera lenses, illuminated by lightening flashes, stoically ignoring the rain driving sideways at us, wondering when we would embark.

Suddenly there was the closest and loudest peal of thunder yet. It was a thunderCLAP, the sound of God clapping His hands quite sharply and impatiently, as if to catch the attention of some wayward and inattentive element of His creation, such as a group of adults that had elected to take a group of nervous infants for a sightseeking cruise on a small boat during a lightening storm. The clap set off several car alarms along the waterfront. The mothers in our group stood up as one, as a flock of migratory birds will change direction together without apparent communication, and led us off the boat. We squelched back through violent puddles, drippng water through the marble floors of the lobby and attracting the politely incredulous gazes of the staff, who were not, I should point out, standing around outside in a lightening storm. Their gazes seemed to convey, in the most polite and non-judgmental way possible, the question don't they SCREEN these people?

It might not rain tomorrow.


Kristin Leucht said...


Thanks for your updates. It gives me a daily distraction from the things I should be doing while on the computer. Allison requests to see pictures of Elaina usually as a way to stall having to go to bed. She especially likes the picture of Elaina putting her footprint on the adoption papers. We all look forward to your return and meeting Elaina.

the Leuchts

Anonymous said...

Hi Katrina and Ken!!!

I was so glad that Malie from the Holt bb posted the link to your blog! It's awesome to read about your travels (and as always, Ken's writing cracks us up!) and Elaina is simply adorable!

Katrina, I hope you're feeling better and we're looking forward to meeting your sweet girl soon!!

Take good care,
Joanne and Gary Chee

Anonymous said...

Looking at my copy of Chapman’s Piloting and seamanship…Cruising via watercraft during an electrical storm is safe if the vessel has a grounding bar under the waterline. My personal suggestion is if you are wearing Crocs do not hold the nunchunks over your head until the storm is passed.

Dan & Louise

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

We have come to rely on the Pearl Buck of Henrietta Avenue for our budget tour of China, but Monday has gone missing. Perhaps the Western gourmand discovered that soy sauce on pizza for breakfast not only falls short of otherwise available world famous Cantonese cuisine, but also rides uneasily on the stomachs of ship-shy landlubbers. Or worse, the Wuhan plague may have invaded your territory and your digestive tract feels like the Yangtze River at flood tide, in which case we need hear no more about these particular conditions, nor certainly see any pictures thereof.
But when you are again able, we would like to learn more about your exotic adventures, such as the fantasy that some of Elaina's unruly hair mysteriously found it's way onto the arid wasteland of your scalp, took root, grew, and can even be seen, felt and pulled by it's original owner. But then, you did have your head between your legs on that occasion, which may explain more than one pending question. Papa gay no