Sunday, June 1, 2014

Day 279 – Dragon Springs and Evan

We left the apartment at seven a.m. so that we could meet two of David’s students, Melinda and Joanna, for a trip to the hometown of Melinda.  We had to get a taxi to take us to a bus stop so that we would be able to get on the bus that would take us there.  The town is called, “Dragon Spring,” because of the spring that feeds the towns water needs.  Right now was not a great time to visit there because it doesn’t run much this time of year.  It will be better when the rains start because it will bring the water levels up.

The bus ride took about an hour and twenty minutes southeast of Jinan.  It was pretty rural.  At one point, I saw a horse hitched to a cart, but wasn’t fast enough with my camera to get a picture of that.  At some points the road was so narrow that I was afraid of what would happen if the bus had to meet a car.  Well, we found out, they just sit and wait for the car to pass and then they go through. 
On our way to Dragon Spring, we passed by the site of the Olympic tennis stadium from the 2008 Beijing Olympics.  Jinan was the site for tennis and a couple of similar sports.
After we got off the bus, we had about a twenty minute walk to get to the girl’s home.  It was a very traditional Chinese dwelling with the double doors opening to a courtyard that was surrounded by the living working and eating rooms.  The girl’s mother was very pleased to have us come.  She didn’t speak any English, but the daughter was able to translate most of what she said for us. 
This is the largest tractor I have seen in China.  Dragon Springs is very much a farming community.

I love how they load these little mototrucks down!

Shucks of wheat piled up near a house waiting for transfer to the piles along the side of the road like the ones below.

Piles of wheat waiting for a bigger move.

This is how this farmer was moving his wheat to the side of the road.

Here is a farmer cutting the wheat with his scythe while his wife was on the side bundling them. 

When we had a short rest, we went with Melinda and Joanna to see Dragon Spring.  It was cute and the water was pretty cool for how hot of a day it was.  Then we continued on to see another spring that was a little further up the mountain, but I don’t remember the name of that one.  Melinda only told it to us in Chinese.  We continued up the mountain, looking at the terracing that has taken centuries to build and the crops that were planted in the terracing.  After about forty-five minutes of walking up the mountain, we decided to turn around and get back in the coolness of Melinda’s parent’s home.  Her brother and his wife and son live there with them.  Melinda’s mom made us a wonderful lunch of dumplings and other dishes that were really good. 
This is Dragon Spring, what we came here to see today.

Little statues add to the "enjoyment" of the spring... well sort of...

David "testing" the water as Joanna and Melinda and two of the local kids look on.

This is the other spring that we saw further up the mountain.  It only flows during the rainy season in July and August.  People will dip a bucket down in there and draw the water out after the initial flooding dies down.

These are some of the terraced gardens.  To the left of the lower garden is a little tomb for ancestors.

This is a peach orchard on one terraced area.  They also had walnut trees growing among the peach trees.

The terraced gardens and fields just continue up the mountain, made from centuries ago and continuously farmed.  Melinda said that her family grows almost everything they eat and that they have a large variety of food.

Joanna, David and Melinda during a break for pictures on our hike.

We had about two hours to wait until the bus before we could go back to Jinan, so we played a card game with Melinda and Joanna until it was time to go.  The bus ride back seemed to go faster than the bus ride there, mostly because that driver was going at a pretty good clip as he headed down the mountain. 
Melinda, her sister-in-law, Zina, David, Melinda's nephew and Melinda's mom at their home.
There were several people on the bus that had been with us on the trip up the mountain and they were happy to see us on the way back down to Jinan.  One woman, in particular, just felt like she was my great friend and was so happy that she got to see me again. 

We came back to the apartment to rest before we had to head back out in the heat and go meet Eva so that we could go pick up Evan from the train station.  We didn’t leave early enough, not realizing that we were in drive time traffic, even for a Saturday.  The bus was slowed in many places and was also very crowded.  We finally got off at the stop we needed, but we headed in the wrong direction and we were going to be REALLY late to pick up Evan, so we decided to get a taxi and have it take us to the train station and then have Eva meet us there.  We were having trouble getting a taxi until one finally stopped that already had a passenger, but we got in and after he dropped off the first guy, he headed to the train station and we got there just a few minutes after Evan did, so he didn’t have to wait too long for us.

Eva met us there and helped us get the train tickets we would need for next Saturday when we take Evan back to Beijing for his flight home.  Then she drove us to the campus hotel and helped us get Evan registered in the hotel. 

Gilbert wanted to meet Evan and he called us as we were trying to get to the train station.  It seemed that the only time that we could get together this week was tonight, so after we got Evan’s room, we met Gilbert and he took us all out to dinner.  It was the first time that Eva and Gilbert has met each other, even though they both new about the other one as we have talked about both of them to the other one.  Dinner was nice, but really late. 

After we got back, we talked with Evan until it was late and now we are late getting to bed.  

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