11 weeks have flown by! Last Monday, the plans didn't exactly go according to plan. We received 2 new turtle rehab patients. They are both green sea turtles and although they are very skinny, they seem to have a lot of spunk. We all function so well together. I think the phrase goes, "We're like a well-oiled machine." I prepared to administer fluids, Emma prepares the squid for tube feeding, Laura weighs and begins scrubbing and an iodine bath.
Here's a recap of my last few days:
We went to Haiko, which is the capital of Hainan. It was great, but cities all look the same here, so I wasn't that impressed. Of course, there was a giant mall, that sold virtually the same products in every store. There is only so much coconut jewlery and hainan shirts that I can look at before they all blur together and I walk like a zombie through the streets. We met with a professor from Hainan Normal University (as opposed to Hainan Crazy University..) The professor was a good guy and extremely smart. He wrote a book about identifying different turtle species and gave each of us a copy!! He showed us their natural history museum, which was cool but we didn't really get much time to look at it. Laura and I were left in the mammal section for a couple minutes and we took pictures with as many as the animals as possible. In 2 minutes we took awesome pictures with zebras, leopards, wolves, flying squirrels, a cow-thing, pandas, a mountain sheep, and a skeleton of what I can only describe as a carnivore with an extreme Sagittal crest and plantigrade feet.
Lunch was delicious and scary at the same time. The professor and his family ordered a huge lunch for us all. It included delicious items like broccoli, tofu, potatoes, and some stir fry dishes, but the scary part was the whole fish. These fish are like skinny fishsticks except they still have the tail and head. I didn't want to eat it, but the professor kept insisting and I didn't want to be rude. So, I ate it, it was not terrible, but there was something that resembled ricotta cheese but they don't really eat cheese in China, so I have absolutely no idea what it was.
That night, armed with tofu skewers, we started our epic road trip around Hainan in a van with a broken window that has difficulties going up hills and overheats every day. We made it pretty far and ended up stopping at a gas station where we all spread out in the van for a couple hours to sleep. My pillow consisted of a bag filled with sea turtle stuffed animals and it was great -- except for the fact that I was too tall for the seat so the curled up position kept causing my legs to fall asleep.
Before we went to bed, we went to a bar with a group of twenty-something Chinese guys. I ended up having to play this dice, drinking game with the two guys who were completely wasted. COMPLETELY. The dice game was fun, but dude, this one guy was ridiculous. He would shake the die in the little container and would hold it over his head and just move his arm all over the place before actually pounding it on the table.He ordered "hainan's speciality" which he later tried to feed me. The only way I could get his hand out of my face was to physically take the chopsticks from him and eat it. Otherwise, it never ended. While they were annoying at times, I actually did have fun.. Which I was surprised because I didn't want to go. At all.
Tuesday was an awesome day filled with rainforest fun! I woke up and we were driving to a nature reserve where there is a population of wild Gibbons (monkeys). Sadly, the monkeys were not sighted and the car overheated while going through the hills. The overheated car had to take some time to cool off so we walked along the road (which I have come to the conclusion doubles as a trail in China) and discovered some cool stuff. I wish I could have seen more wildlife, but mostly it consisted of road killed snakes. At the reserve, the highlight was getting to pretend I was George of the Jungle by swinging on a vine.
Our next stop was a national park in a some little town that I can't pronounce. We ate lunch at a small restaurant with more flies then residents in the town. We hiked up a trail, which was in reality a road, and I saw so many butterflies. I was nervous because after the first few kilometers, I realized my lovely Tevas were letting me down, and I was started to get a blister. With my amazing thinking skills, I tied a bandana around my heel and made a cover to prevent my shoe from rubbing on the blister. It totally worked perfectly and didn't bother me for the rest of the hike.The views were spectacular and I think it might be the prettiest place I have ever seen. It was covered in vines, and a ridiculous amount of different plants. Emma, Laura, and I made videos and just enjoyed the hike up. At one point, I tried to attempt to walk like Sasquatch with exaggerated arm swinging and long strides. Laura bet me that I couldn't walk a whole kilometer like that and with my pride on the line, I took her bet. I went about 1/2 a kilometer when it started downpouring again, I felt like a marathon runner defying all odds. I let the rain run in my eyes, trying not to let it waver me from my amazing sasquatch walk. Don't worry, I made it, and in the process, I may have freaked out an innocent Chinese man trying to wait out the storm.We didn't reach the top because of time, but we made it about halfway. The great thing about rainforests is, of course, the rain. One minute it's sunny, the next, its raining so hard!! And the smell! It wasn't just like rain, it was mixed with the smell of all the plants, and it smelled simply amazing! During the walk back, we ran into an angry board thrashing around in the bushes next the the road. We all ran and jumped on these blocks (which really would have done nothing if the boar would have tried to get us. We had nothing to protect us so I started pulling our water bottles and anything in my bag that I could use to throw.. I was ready, but it never attacked.
The rainforest was spectacular and I'm so glad I got to see it before I left. I was a little disappointed because I didn't get to go to Tiandu to buy a cool flannel shirt, but oh well, I guess it wasn't meant to be. Frederick gave us a couple lectures on sea turtle conservation and nesting behaviors. It was pretty interesting stuff. He had one of the workers at the tea shop where we were at take pictures. I felt like she would never stop, she didn't think she was very good so she kept at it. Finally, we told her she did great, just so she wouldn't feel bad anymore. Emma and I are enjoyed sleeping in an air conditioned room, while Laura, who forgot her passport, had to sleep in the van because the landlady won't let her into the building.
I'm enjoying being back in a world with clean air and no humidity, but I'm already missing China. Hopefully everyone is doing great! I can't wait to catch up with all of you!
This ends my China adventures!