Location: Beijing

To preface day 3, we were and are still suffering from the effects of jetlag (read: Rachel has been up for 32 hours), but we managed to wake up at 6h45 without much protest. Chris and Olivia made breakfast, and we were out the door by 8h15, headed for the Great Wall, the tourist attraction for the day. Traffic was heavy on the ride there, so a forty-five-minute drive ended up taking almost two hours! We passed the time by passing around the Spotify playlists on Colleen’s iPad and sticking our head out the car windows and waving far too enthusiastically at strangers in cars passing by; it’s surprising how quickly the time passes when you’re counting how many people wave back at you.

Immediately upon arrival, we all needed to use the bathroom, and we all used our first squat toilets of the trip. Goals. Then we started walking along the wall, and it was really interesting to be able to see and hear all the different ethnicities and languages as we climbed all the stairs. The stairs were ridiculously high and crowded, and there was a surprising amount of small children climbing too, which just made me feel so good about huffing and puffing my way up to the top. The weather was nice because it wasn’t very sunny despite the humidity, but we still worked up a sweat simply because of the amount of physical exertion required to climb each stair. Once we reached the second fortress, Rachel, Evan, Catherine and Chris continued to the next two fortresses while the other four of us headed back down to the entrance to wait for them. We also took a picture of us four girls (Chris should have joined us, but he has too much dignity) doing the Asian squat on the Great Wall, and that was ace. Squat/d goals, amirite?

It only took us an hour and a half to drive back to the apartment for lunch, and we had a Western-style lunch, aka hot dogs. During and after lunch, Catherine’s dad came in to talk to us a bit about the background and history of Lifeworks and the Little Flower program, which I think was important context for the work we’re going to be doing. We visited the Dewdrops program with the orphanage for an hour in the afternoon around five, where we got to play with the babies in different rooms, ranging from the tiny, fragile babies to the toddlers in the playroom.

It was also really disconcerting to see the different states of each child because some of their conditions were a lot more severe than others; it was incredible but also really difficult to see sometimes; one of the babies turned blue, and the nurses had to fan him to restore him to a healthier color. We weren’t there for that long, but we’re going back tomorrow morning, alors c’est pas grave.

We had a Chinese dinner that finished up around ten after seven, and then we split up to clean up dinner and shower and go over the day’s pictures. We’re going to all turn in early tonight because it’s been a long day and we’re tired.