Monday July 28 2014

At 5:45 Katrina’s phone rang, it was one of our FTs Joe, he couldn’t wake his housemate Carl up. “You gotta go now.” Katrina told him. Joe showed up just in time, without Carl. After some debate as to whether or not we should wait for Carl, we eventually pulled out of the parking lot. Carl has professed loudly since he arrived that he stands by the belief that “Any later then 10 minutes early is late”, and the whole time he’s been here he’s been choked up on the fact that he gave up his cat, and the reason he had to give her up early was to come to China for this school trip. Well he missed the trip.

We had been doubtful of Katrina’s ability to get up for the 6:00 am bus, so we were surprised to see that she had been the first one to arrive! It seemed like most of the foreign staff were in one state of… delirium or another. A couple were still drunk from the night.

Ray, from the West Centre was quiet drunk, especially at the beginning of the drive, and it was when Ray and Andy started dancing together in the middle of the bus isle that we knew it would be a trip with a lot of memories. There’s this weird creepy guy, Clarence, who kept claiming Ray, Aaron, and Isaac were his boyfriends. He seemed to be enjoying the show a little to much.

Carl posted up on the Jinan foreigner chat group that he hadn’t been able to make the trip because on his walk to the bus his throat had started hurting. He’d gone to the hospital and apparently had tonsillitis and might need his tonsils removed. We knew for a fact that he had been out drinking the night before, had come in around 4:00 am, and had still be in bed when Joe left at 5:45. The school was even talking about sending a CT home early to see if he was ok! Katrina was livid.

It was eight hours of driving before we finally arrived at our hotel. It was 2:00 pm, and we were served a delicious lunch of “healthy food” as Muffin called it. It was fresh, mostly veggie, and not even very oily!

After lunch there was mass confusion as an unorganized attempt at placing people in rooms was begun using mostly Chinese. The English that was used only made things more confusing. The rooms were to be divided into boys and girls. The only problem was Nate and I had packed our stuff into the same bag. We thought it would just be a matter of running stuff from one room to another, but it turned out that the boys were in an entirely different building! “Lets find my room first, sort out the stuff, and then you can have the bag,” I suggested.

Nate was not in the mood. “They’re leaving, I don’t know where to go.”

“Well I don’t want to go through the bag out here.” I replied, “Different rooms is not a problem, but different buildings is a different story.” Muffin was trying to sort out the same dilemma for him and his girlfriend, so he help us plead our case. We ended up getting a three person dorm for two people, and we’re just paying for the extra bed.

When the rooms were finally sorted out we met the group for a hike to a waterfall. Ray was still slightly inebriated, and had bought a bug net. One minute he was whisking his net around in the group, Alex, Lulu’s son, jumping around next to him, and the next he had hopped down into the dry river bed beside us and was leaping from rock to rock, net in hand.

There was a rock with the shape of a moon on it, that was supposed to have some significance, but the explanation was only in Chinese, and whoever was supposed to be translating wasn’t doing their job.

We were led up to a bee hive, and from there we were sent to explore on our own, and return by an agreed upon time.

Off Ray when, frolicking ahead down the path with his net. Next time we saw him he was on top of a cliff “The Ray in his natural habitat,” I joked.

“Oh god, oh god, Ray!” Katrina yelled as Ray tried to find the best way down the cliff, “No Ray, oh god, if he falls.” he did at first appear to be planning on sliding down the cliff face on the loose rock. Fortunately he came to his senses and climbed down the back way.

We’d been told there would be swimming by the waterfall, but instead of clean clear water, we came upon murky algae filled pools. Ray waded in shoes and all and leaned over like he was a thirsty animal and had found a watering hold “Ray, are you going to drink that?” I asked in alarmed amusement.

He stared at the pool for a minute before lifting his head to meet my eyes, “uhhh pff, no, I wouldn’t drink that!” somehow I wasn’t entirely convinced.

The chunks of algae were like little green icebergs, with only a little sticking up on top, but a large green mass extending down below. Each algae-berg was swarming with tiny fish. It was quite beautiful though Katrina “eeewwed” at it. Ray spent nearly 10 minutes just staring at an algae bloom, his cameral pointed at it. I’m not sure if he took pictures, maybe a video.

I guess the weather had been dry lately, because the waterfall was only a thin trickle falling from far above us. The pool directly below the falls looked clean and clear, but there was a no swimming sign and a wooden barrier. At least we were able to wet our buffs.

Nate, Katrina, and I decided to continue up the narrow rusty metal stairs that were stapled into the side of the mountain. 

We walked beneath wet cliffs dripping water from some hidden pool above. I watched where a puddle had formed. The rock above it was sweating, drip drip drip,

I turned my eyes ahead to a small hanging bridge, letting the sound of the dripping fill my ears, and the smell of the damp rock fill my nostrils. I was the first up and the first to cross. The bridge was made of bamboo and swayed under my feet.

Passing through a small cave we came to the source of the water, a small stream tumbled into oblivion leaving streaks of blood red stone algae in it’s wake.

Our ears were filled with music as we came across four musicians playing Chinese instruments on a rock in the middle of a pool of water. Ray immediately lay down on the rock, and Katrina sat cross legged next to him.

Nate, Joe, and I joined them, sitting right there on the ground and taking in the combined artistry of scenery and music. “This is why I came to China,” Katrina said. And for once all of us, with all of our opinions, and big ideas were in complete agreement.

There wasn’t a whole lot to see at the top of the trail, just a road and a small town, but Katrina found a big german shepherd to snuggle with and was content.

Oh and I guess the view was ok too.

Casey is a new West ender. She’s Canadian, from PEI, and I can already tell she’s my kind of person. Casey likes hats, so there was some serious hat buying happening on our way down the mountain.

We had a delicious dinner of more fresh food. Nate and I went to have a nap after dinner, but napping quickly turned to sleeping.

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