We had a couple days here in the city to take advantage of some necessary bonding opportunities with our new little one. Some time to explore her city and learn about this place that is such a critical part of her story.
I love history. I get this from my dad, I think. I want to know what happened here and when and what were the conditions surrounding those moments. We just bought a house recently and I wanted to know about the original owner. What was life like? How was this neighborhood developed? Did she love it here?
Our guide, Jiun, has been amazing. He takes time to answer all our questions and share with us interesting information about the area. Jinan has numerous natural springs making their way out of the ground and emptying some for down the line into the Yellow River. For this reason, Jinan is known as The City of Springs. One particular spring is found in the middle of the city. The waters are deep and dark and the mouth is said to roar like a tiger. It was named Black Tiger Spring. Seems appropriate, I guess. Many locals use this spring as their main source of drinking water and water for cooking. They come with their buckets, pails, and kettles and draw what they’ll need for the day and go home. Jiun says it tastes sweet. Better than any water he’s ever had. It was crystal clear but I was not ready to brave it.
It’s absolute Eden in the middle of the concrete jungle of Jinan. Old men did Tai Chi and hung up bird cages in the willows. This particular spring created what would become a moat around the ancient city of Jinan and separated it from the new city until about 50 years ago.
We were playing just past the “mouth of the tiger” when a young mom with her daughter and her mother stopped Rosie and asked her to pose with the young daughter. Rosie’s blonde curls are a hit among the people here. This would happen a lot on this trip. Lots of staring. Some pointing and chuckles. We go back and forth from feeling like a freak show to feeling like celebrities. It weirds me out a little occasionally. There really seem to be no personal boundaries here. As we were turning up toward the exit, we crossed a bridge. Aila was holding a stuffed giraffe and in her excitement she threw it in the moat. We tried to signal to someone for assistance but no one could understand us. Giraffe was floating away. This really upset Grady. He kept sobbing, almost wailing, saying, “But I want Aila to have her giraffe.” He know that she has nothing but the clothes she was wearing at the orphanage. And he know that this giraffe was a gift of love from his siblings and himself. He was heartbroken.
We decided to give the giraffe a story asked God to help a little girl find it and love it like it was her very own. I think the kids named it Mei Mei and a writing a story about her adventures across the world, off a bridge and to a little girl’s heart. Should be a bestseller!!!