I was shipped off to a watermelon farm with a bunch of kids and parents as a special event for the holiday. It was much cooler then yesterday, which was nice for the outdoor itinerary. It was also supposed to rain, but fortunately the worst we got was a pick up in wind that blew dirt in our faces.
We met at 7:45 am for the 1 1/2 hour bus ride. Muffin suggested we sing. Instead we passed out in the back of the bus. It turns out that Sunny, from my Harry Potter class, and Olivia, from my Strawberry class go to the same kindergarten, and are best friends. I ended up playing peekaboo behind the bus seats with them for most of the bus ride. Both girls were full of energy and extremely giggly. Maggie, a child so shy that she often can not speak above a whisper in class, even joined in on the fun! Lynn, A boy from one of my classes who is always serious, sat expressionless watching us play, but not joining in on the fun.
Peekaboo turned into Sunny and Olivia running back and forth down the isle of the bus. I ended up bear hugging them in order to stop them from flying forwards or backwards, but the kids kept squirming away, afraid I would tickle them! I had a hand on both kids at all times and luckily no disaster struck. The parents didn’t seem at all concerned.
I had been under the impression that we would be going through the farm in different groups, but no such organization happened. Instead mass chaos ensued after we got off the bus. The West centre had come on a different bus, and before long our bus load of children fused with theirs, and together with the parents became one indistinguishable mass of humans. From there we all just sort of flowed towards the watermelon greenhouses, kids spilling out into the wheat fields where they picked and munched on raw wheat.
The watermelons here are yellow inside! I’m told they are sweeter. A man was hacking up the sticky fruit with a large curved knife that looked more like a mediaeval weapon then a watermelon knife. He gave us all some fruit to sample.
At some point a bag was shoved into my arms, that I was told to give to Muffin. “Where’s Muffin?” I asked.
“Ahead,” was the only reply.
Assuming we were all going to the same place I followed the stream of parents and children, to try and get “ahead” in order to find Muffin. That’s how I found myself standing in someone’s bedroom with Shirley and a fraction of the kids we had started out with, no Muffin, only utter confusion.
Once finally in the greenhouse the kids swarmed the plants like locusts, each poking or tapping the melons in turn.
“What are you doing?” I asked Shirley as she helped one child tap a melon.
“Check to see if they’re ripe.” She replied.
“How do you tell?”
“I don’t know.” And there was the Shirley laugh, “We can cut it if they are ripe.”
Zoom, There went one boy, Nemo, running by us with a pair of rusty scissors in his hand! His dad followed, completely unconcerned about the safety of his child, with a box that had four or five watermelons inside.
“Wow Nemo, looks like you found some,” I commented.
Next came a child swinging a curved knife, “Whoa,” I said, “careful with that.” I had the strong urge to collect and control the use of all sharp objects.
And then trundled along expressionless Lynn, with his father in tow. “Get any Lynn?” I asked.
No answer, and then “Hiya!” out of no where the boy karate chops a melon in half, looked at the broken fruit in surprised, and is rushed onwards by his father before he is caught.
“Should we pick some?” asked Sherry.
“Can we pick them?”
“Yes, but we have to pay.”
“Oh I see.” It was starting to make sense: pick your own watermelon!
Shirley picked a few watermelons, tapping on them to see if they were ripe. She was looking for the biggest one. “Look at that one!” I commented.
“Oh, yeah yeah,” She didn’t look to impressed, but then her eyes fell on the fruit I was talking about, “Oh my got! It’s so big!” She laughed her Shirley laugh.
After more chaos involving a caterpillar and a rooftop exploration, we found ourselves back at the buses. “Now we will go see some animals.” I was told. For some reason I had expected some sort of petting zoo, but instead we just walked out to look at cows. Mostly black and white holsteins. Sunny kept putting poop straw in her mouth.
Next stop was lunch. The wait was chaotic with all of the wound up kids running around uncontrolled. Muffin asked me to get a game going (which was close to impossible) but I was saved when the food showed up. “Wo hen bao le,(I’m very full)” I told Franny, one of our new CTs, after lunch.
“What? But no baoze, no rice.” She seemed genuinely surprised.
“Yeah, but it doesn’t matter, there was so much food!”
Sunny and Olivia found an old wasp nest after lunch, which ended up on the bus with us. Good thing the wasps were long gone.
We had one final stop to pick cucumbers before we were on our way back to school.
I sat with Sunny for a while, and amused her by getting her to draw silly pictures (mostly of Shirley). Later (when she’d fallen asleep with her mom) I passed out, only to wake up to Lynn and a friend sitting in the seat in front of me giggling and talking Chinese. “They’re talking about your butt.” Franny said her voice very matter of fact. I laughed, I had been sleeping on my side and my big butt had been sticking out. “What are you talking about!” I said to the boys, starting a tickle fight/ finger gun war.
Nemo tried to join in but confused the concept of tickling with clawing. I had to tickle him to the ground every time he tried to tickle me so that I wouldn’t end up with claw marks.
Back at Happy English we were dropped off in the middle of the road!
I met Nate, who had been sent to do presentations at a playground in the mall, back at home. We had an hour to relax before grabbing a cab to the train station, and starting our trip to Suzhou. The trip is both a Christmas present from me to Nate that we made coincide with the dragon boat festival, which happens to fall on my birthday! So it’s celebrations all around.