First night in Beijing.
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We arrive in Beijing to a very welcoming nation. Everywhere you look, they’ve convinced us, they want us here. “One World One Dream,” the motto of the 2008 games. Five small Chinese cartoon characters take on mascot responsibilities, each have their own name and color. If you combine all of their names it translates to “Beijing Welcomes You.” At the same time, the process for obtaining a Visa to China is for those stubborn enough to continue trying after likely rejection. It took Bobby and I two different submissions, while a good friend said it took her three. But, alas, we strongly subscribe to their “welcome” idea. We ask three uniformed people at Beijing’s airport if they knew the whereabouts of our hotel, all did not, but no later than five minutes passed when all three came running toward us from different directions. They came with booklets, brochures and many attempts at effective communication. We are connecting.
It turned out to be a very hot night upon our arrival and was exceptionally humid. We can only imagine what the warmer days are going to be like around here. The air, I must say, is the most unwelcome native thus far. It’s not that it stings your nostrils or burns your throat, per se, but it’s as though the city has dual hosting responsibilities. One: the Olympics and two, a giant bbq where the meat is marinated in toxins of every kind. The masks I bought in La Jolla will be put into immediate use, no doubt.
The people here are ready for us, they’ve brushed up on their English and are willingly aiding us with our Chinese. “Hello” in Chinese, is pronounced “neon how” and “thank you” is pronounced “aseeuh ass-yuh.” As I’m writing this blog, the television in our room displays the torch relay. It continues as the torch is passed every twenty seconds or so. A man holds the torch firmly and lifts his hands to cheer in victory as he accepts the flame. He is no athlete, yet he is winning. The expression within his small face, emotes more feeling than any language can entail. He passes it on to a woman who, upon being passed the flame, dances and twirls like a young girl with a fairy wand. The torch guides quickly convince her to actually run with it, but the secret is out. They’re feeling it. THAT is why we are here, to dance with them and to move forward.