Well, this morning was the big day of the visa appointment at the US consulate. This was the date that our entire trip was built around. We left the hotel a little before 8:00 this morning in a van with Elsie and Carrie with MiMi. The other families from our group have their appointments tomorrow or Wednesday, so we were lucky to get ours scheduled at the earliest possible date. It took about 20 minutes to get to the building, and during the drive Elsie explained everything we would need to do. Yesterday at 4:00 I had gone over all of our paperwork with Sarah, and she made sure we had the right documents in the right order in our clear plastic envelope, such as TongJie's passport, the "Red Book" and adoption decree that we got at his adoption from the Civil Affairs Office, copies of our passports and visas, our DS-230 form that we had sent to the consulate back in January, the vaccination waiver that we had gotten notarized before we left stating that we would get him vaccinated within 30 days in the US (so he doesn't have to get any vaccines here besides the ones he got while in the orphanage), TongJie's visa photo, and his medical reports. So we had that clear envelope with all the documents, and Elsie told us where we'd need to go and what we needed to do. The guides couldn't go all the way in with the families, they could only go up until the security point, so at the security point Elsie told us to take a left and then another left and that she'd meet us downstairs when everything was finished. We were a little nervous because we didn't have a guide with us, but once we got to the floor of the American Consulate, everything was in English so that was helpful. There were 12 families there total, but us and Carey were the only ones from Wacap. We had to raise our right hands and do a swearing-in ceremony that all the information we provided them with was true, and then we waited for our names to be called so we could go up to the window when it was our turn. TongJie was not very happy during all this, because it was a small and crowded waiting area with a bunch of unhappy kids and nervous parents. I guess we were all nervous because we were worried that there might be some important document missing or something and this is the last big hurdle before we get to go home and we just wanted to get out of there. Carey was right before us, and then it was our turn so we went up to the window and the guy was really nice and asked us for our documents, then he checked our passports and TongJie's passport and said that only one parent had to stay there at the window to go through the documents, so Jeff took TongJie to walk around and I stayed at the window since I was the one who had gone over all the documents with Sarah yesterday. He looked at them for awhile and then said everything looks good and that we should be able to pick up TongJie's visa tomorrow. He kept some of the things that we'll get back tomorrow with the visa but he gave us some of the things back and Elsie immediately took those when we got back into the van. The guides are very organized and I'm kind of glad they keep track of some of the really important documents for us so we don't have to worry about something happening to them. We weren't able to take cameras into the consulate, but Elsie took a picture of us downstairs in the lobby after we were done.
We were finished by about 9:15, so we had time to eat at the breakfast buffet after we got back, since we didn't have time this morning. TongJie actually slept until about 7:30 this morning, which was great, so all we had time for was to feed him some rice cereal and "mum-mums" before we left. So all three of us were glad that we had a chance to eat some good breakfast. TongJie still loves the watermelon the most. He also had scrambled eggs and ham and part of a muffin. We got back to our room a little after 10:00 and we've just been hanging out ever since. We have a trip this afternoon to Shamian Island with our group and I'm looking forward to that because it sounds like there are some neat shops where we can buy some more souvenirs and things. Right now we're trying to get TongJie to take a nap but I'm not sure if we'll have any success with that or not. It's really hard to get him to sleep and he cries a lot.
Yesterday evening we ended up eating dinner at Pizza Hut and we had the seafood pizza again. It has shrimp, crab, octopus, and probably other things but we don't know what. It's really good. After that we went for a stroll for quite awhile on some of the streets near the hotel. The weather is always nicer in the evening when it's cooler. It was interesting to see the difference in the shops and restaurants just within a few blocks. Right near the hotel are things like Starbucks, 7-Eleven, Pizza Hut, Subway, and other Chinese stores that are more American or European - we even saw a Mexican restaurant called Tekila and I took a picture of the sign. Just a few blocks away, though, things were a lot different. It was not as high class and certainly not as "western" the farther we went, and signs were no longer in English. There were a lot of open-air markets and vendors right on the sidewalks selling fresh fruit, wooden mats, cigarettes, and a bunch of different stuff. Above the stores were apartments with clothes hanging out on the balconies, and people were walking everywhere up and down the streets. It was pretty interesting. A lot of people looked at TongJie in the stroller and then stared at us. On the way back we stopped at 7-Eleven and Jeff and I each got an ice cream bar.
Tomorrow we don't have anything scheduled except that we get TongJie's visa at 4:00 pm. It's going to be a long, boring day. We probably could have left tomorrow evening (that's what Carey is doing) but we decided to wait until Wednesday just in case the visa doesn't show up on time or something. We're so ready to come home, but not at all looking forward to the long flight from Hong Kong to LA. At least after that flight, the flight from LA to Seattle should seem easy.
Some photos for today: TongJie enjoying a wild ride in his stroller yesterday evening; a street in Guangzhou; at the consulate this morning; and Jeff reading his Bible this morning with TongJie on his lap.