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Throwing pottery on a "poor boat" in China

sunny 88 °F

Today was probably among one of the best days.
This past week we have had a random girl staying with us. Random in the sense it is my uncle's uncle's daughter's sister's cousin....I think. The Chinese family tree is something I have yet to master. Anyways, because I had midterms all last week I haven't really interacted much and kind of became a hermit in my room. BUT last night we started talking and we really hit it off. She goes to the Nanjing school of art, and is graduating in July, so until then and because its pointless to rent an apartment for just one month, she is staying with us!! Yay!! She is a little older then me, and about two feet shorter. She is the tiniest thing with the most outrageous haircut. The only way I can describe it, and I think this may be its official name I'm not sure, is a bowl cut. Bowl on head, cut around bowl. It's cute, though don't get me wrong, just different :)
So last night we were watching illegally downloaded movies and talking about school, and things like, when we want to get married, what kind of cars we drive, and our families. It ended with her inviting me to go to her pottery class with her today. Which I most happily accepted.
She woke me this morning at 8am. Our grandma and grandpa were gone traveling for the day, and she had managed to boil water and make me breakfast. She was beaming with pride. There were eggs too and I asked if she made them as well, and she quickly responded with shaking her head and saying I don't know how I don't know how cook. So in truth, she can really only boil water and put dumplings in. I am by no means saying there is anything wrong with this, it's just the difference in the cultures. There would be no reason for me to know how to cook if I lived with my grandparents and every single meal was made for me. It's almost a rite of passage being taught to cook, and having the responsibility of making dinner. Even my aunty who is in her early thirties beamed with pride when she told me one morning she made my sandwich herself.
After breakfast we headed to our bus. It was a longer ride and we were dropped in an area I didn't recognize. We walked along the side of the freeway for a bit, then froggered a few lanes to the median, climbed up through this dirt path we were met with ten lanes of traffic, fast moving traffic. So we skipped and we dodged taxis and we made it alive. Then we walked along the freeway some more. Actually we just walked in the slow lane.
Weiwei kept pointing to the other side of the river we were walking to and saying, that's where we are headed. I couldn't see a bridge anywhere, and lucky me, I didn't know the word for bridge. I just followed my new found friend.
We eventually arrived at a ferry. Wooo!! It is the kind you see of the movies. Just a rickety old little foot ferry. It had a metal roof and was open air, no benches at all, just some random metal ferry boat pieces to sit on. We crowded in among the old men on their scooters, boxes of fruit and other goods strategically balanced on the sides. The scooter closest to me was carrying boxes of bananas, but the scooter looked like it was about to fall apart. Actually, the front was taped together with packaging tape. Oh and every single one of them had a cigarette in their mouth, most were talking on smart phones but they were all staring at me. Even weiwei noticed. I was thinking about how it's probably not that safe to smoke where we were standing because there were jugs of gasoline. I looked to see where the captain of the boat was. He was easy to find as he was the only one wearing a bright orange life vest, that's reassuring. I saw him talking to an older women smoking, she motioned throwing her cigarette in a blue jug and he quickly waved his hands and mimed out a big explosion. The surprised look on her face scares me, how could you not know that a jug holding gasoline and fire don't mix well??? How could you not know and still be alive.
It was at this point I asked weiwei if she could swim. No no no, she said, I'm scared of water. I couldn't help to think this boat would be the last place I would want to be if I was scared of water. But We payed for our one kuai ticket anyways, and were off.
Thankfully the ride was short, and there were no problems. It's not that I was scared of drowning so much, it was just the water is so disgusting. It's dirt brown and there's a layer of filth on the top.
After we arrived we started walking toward two different boats tied to a dock. Weiwei kept saying we were going to the "poor boat" because that's where the bosses "workshop" is. Uhhhmmm...ok.
Then she told me the boss was a guy. A 26 year old guy. Haha
We walked onto this boat that looked like it was on the verge of sinking, thankfully it was tied to a newer one, so I don't think anything too bad would happen if it sprung a leak. I was beginning to get really confused why we were on a boat. Then, we walked in his "workshop." I was completely blown away. It is one of the coolest set ups I have ever seen. First of all this boat is like a huge shipping vessel, not like a ferry, or a tug boat. His workshop was in the front part inside what probably would be the captains quarters? Shit I don't know anything about boats. It was in some room. Haha
The room had two spinning wheels, a couch, and tables and tables of pottery. There were bags of clay in the corner. Weiwei took me out the opposite door to the front where there were more tables of bowls, all planted with a cactus in them. It was beyond amazing. The walls of the room were decorated with paintings, and drawings, there were magazines strewn about and a guitar in the corner. The room next to it held the kiln. I feel like I just walked into seattle. The boss was a 26 year old guy who was taller then me. Which is rare.
Weiwei and I watched him get the clay ready and then start the wheel. I thought we came here so she could practice but it turns out she wanted him to teach me, so I spent the next thirty minutes or so watching him make a beautiful vase on the wheel, while weiwei took pictures.
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They would talk a bit and I would catch bits and pieces of it, and know they were talking about me. I started to get the feeling she was playing more of a matchmaker at this point haha.
Anyways back to pottery... He would then ask me to try and continue making the vase he started, and I would quickly destroy it and turn it into a lopsided wobbly cup. Eventually I kind of figured it out. We got a cup made and he quickly cut it off the wheel and set it to dry. He told me I could come back and paint it and take it home with me to America. Later weiwei told me that he was very very nice for offering me that because that cup would cost more then 100kuai if he sold it. I had no idea.
We cleaned up with water from the river, so I guess in reality we got the clay off our hands but gained some Ebola. That's the other thing that shocked me, this place had no running water. Next we sat on the couch and penciled on cute asian faces on already dried cups, they told me I could do it but I was nervous and refused. Random old men would wander over from the neighboring ship to have a glance at the foreigner, and then start talking about me as if I weren't there, then eventually ask if I can speak Chinese with which I respond "of course I can." Its getting irritating always feeling like a zoo animal where ever you go.
We quickly finished and together all went to lunch. Before we left the "owner" pulled me aside and gave me a tiny tiny little bowl with a plant in it, and i carried it all the way home with pride. I waited till I got home to take a picture with it though.
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I feel like I've made real Chinese friends now :)
We took the ferry back and got in a heiche. Literally translated to: black car. They are taxis that aren't actually taxis, and I was warned about them from our program director because they are pretty dangerous. But hey, I survived the ferry, I think I could handle a van with a little old aunty driving it. Never would I do this alone though, because that's how people get kidnapped.
After a ten minute ride Weiwei and I bailed at a stoplight from the car waving goodbye to our friends and headed home. I quickly changed my clothes and caught the bus to school so I could go teach English at the migrant school.
It was the same as any other time, except a little frustrating because they were extra rowdy I feel like today. All in all the day after teaching was the same as usual. Kaitlyn and I walked home together, munching on pineapple on a stick and drinking bubble tea. The only strange thing we saw, and I admit it is really strange and I don't know how I almost forgot to mention it, was a group of thirty police men surrounding a group of women outside on the gates that we walk by (the place that has the guards that wave hello to us everyday). We have no idea what was going on, and lots of people stopped to watch, but we quickly moved on. I'm happy because I am really enjoying living in China right now, but that can change when you see the harsh realities of how different our societies really are, and by that I mean, police brutality against unarmed women. I don't know if it was going to happen, but my point is that it most certainly can in China.
That's it for now though, tomorrow I am going traveling with my grandma and grandpa and weiwei!! So I have to wake up very early!

Posted by Kaceyroo 07:29 Archived in China

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Oh, this was wonderful! What an amazing experience and day you have had. Did you take more pictures, maybe of your new friends?

by kellyingalls

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