Friday, September 30th, Day 15
Awoke to men’s chorus at 8:30am. Dozed on and off until Melissa called at 10am. Read e-mails. At 12:30pm I got a call from brother Rod.
My first visitor to the door! I heard him knock, but wasn’t sure if it was my door. He knocked again. There was a young man wearing an ID card on his neck. He had a clipboard with a piece of paper with pictures. He said something, not sure what.
“I don’t speak Chinese,” I said. “Do you speak English?”
He said something else. I tried to remember how to say “I don’t speak Chinese,” in Chinese. But before I could think of it, he pointed at one of the little pictures. I looked closer. It was a picture of three cockroaches. Was he here to check for cockroaches? Was he here to spray for cockroaches? Was he selling cockroaches?
I looked him over. He wasn’t carrying anything except the clipboard and a pen. Looked like he was going to write down my answer, if only I knew the question. I had seen some insect poison under the sink, but had not seen, nor heard, any cockroaches (unless they were big enough to knock over my little kitchen waste basket). I looked for a picture of a rat on his clipboard, so I could point to it. No luck. He said something, pointing, again, at the picture of cockroaches.
I wasn’t going to let him in to check for cockroaches, if that is what he wanted. I don’t think there are any cockroaches. And since I wasn’t interested in buying any cockroaches, I shook my head.
“No cockroaches,” I said, wagging my finger and my head, hoping these meant “no” in Chengdu. “No. No. No.”
I started to close the door and he gave a long sigh and decided to give up. I heard him knocking on the next door down the hallway.
I went to my dictionary and looked up the word “cockroach”. I found five words, one slang (likely dangerous to use), one dialect (nope), and three other words that all meant cockroach. But I knew enough about Chinese that seeing the definition of a character out of context was a recipe for disaster.
蟑螂 (zhāngláng) = cockroach; roach
Unfortunately, my dictionary did not have the word used in any sentences. So I went to the internet for Chinese cockroaches, just to see what I could learn. If you’re squeamish, don’t click here. (Note: Please let me know if this link worked.)
Searching for cockroaches reminded me it was time for dinner. Time to reheat sweet and sour eggplant and watch the sunset.
The Golden Week starts this evening. Everybody gets October 1st-3rd off as a national holiday, plus two days because it falls on a weekend, plus two more days in advance (meaning everybody is supposed to work the weekend following the Golden Week). It’s the same holiday we avoided last year, changing our tour dates until after the holiday. Nobody wants to be traveling on October 1st in China. Tomorrow, some 150 million Chinese will hit the road.
The destinations are tourist sites, so I’m avoiding anything touristy, though I may head down to the train station just to see the crowds. I asked Jeremy if people came to Chengdu for Golden Week. He said no, most of the traffic will be people leaving Chengdu. Will they be going back to their country homes? No, going to tourist spots, like Beijing, or the mountains.
For the second time in two weeks the sunset was visible. I took another picture and noticed how much the sun had moved to the left. Fall is here. Winter is coming.