Our time in Urumqi, presumably the city of Cooper's birth, was.....well.......mixed. We spent a lot of time bored out of our skulls and stuck in our hotel room thanks to our guide that was anything BUT adventurous. In fact, she basically told us never to leave the hotel without her- then proceeded to tell us about the long stretches of time she WOULDN'T be with us. Looking back, we should have simply struck out on our own. Of course, at the time, that seemed pretty intimidating.
Our days in Urumqi were the healthiest days we had too- only Sawyer was sick there, and once he started on his antibiotic, he started feeling better quickly.
By our last day in Urumqi, we were passing the time by rewriting the lyrics to the Veggie Tales song, "We're Going to the Promised Land" to fit our China travels......"The dining was lousy in Urumqi, but we'll be feasting in Guangzhou for sure." Did I mention we were B.O.R.E.D?
However, in Urumqi, I had one of the most amazing, emotional, and truly unexpected days of my life: visiting the hospital where Cooper was found and having an unexpected lunch as the guest of a local Chinese official. Scot stayed back with the kids because they had not slept the night before, and we were worried that the long car ride and the boring (to them) nature of the trip might be a bad combo. So, I decided to go to this other part of the city by myself with my guide.
No sooner were outside of the city proper and headed out to the rural part of the city, than I started to think I hadn't actually considered if this might be, you know, a wise idea. Here I was in a car with some guy who was apparently a friend of my guide's and my guide. I had no way of contacting Scot, and he had no way of knowing exactly where they would take me. Thankfully, it turned out fine, but I did spend some time on the drive outside the city thinking about how bad it COULD turn out.
We were STUCK in this market for probably 45 minutes at least. I asked my guide if I could simply get out and walk next to the car. She told me in no uncertain terms that that would NOT be safe. I realize now that she simply was uncomfortable in this part of the city (being a very urban girl herself). It would NOt have been dangerous, and I should have TOLD her I was getting out in stead of asking.
So, I took in all the sights and sounds of the market from the car. We were in the middle of everything, so I was able to really soak it all in. The man selling naan bread.
The women buying and selling celery.
The meat sitting out in the sun on a piece of plywood- surely someone's dinner.
The vegetables lined on tarps placed down on the road. It all seemed so beautiful and simple to me. I nearly forgot where we were going in the enjoyment of getting there.
I studied every face. Every woman- could she be? Every man- could he be? Every child- could he have been here? Would this have been his life?
I loved the man below in the leather jacket in particular. To look at him, the way he was dressed in this jacket, v-neck sweater, and khaki pants, he looks like he might be on his break form an office in any city in the US. He was ruggedly handsome, and I wished I knew all about his life.
I watched him carefully shop for his ginger- was he shopping for home or was he a business owner?
As we left the market, I was sad that I was missing this opportunity to experience the rhythms of normal Chinese life. I didn't want to go.....except that I was also anticipating seeing the spot where all we know of Cooper's story began.
I went in, and immediately, I just didn't want to stay. Even now, I'm not sure why, but given the opportunity to go back, i don't think I would have done anything differently. At one point we passed a stairwell with a big open area underneath it- perfectly hidden in both directions from any people.
I just became overwhelmed with the idea that this cold, not-so-sterile, hospital was where Cooper was left completely unattended for who-knows-how-long. The hours of his life when he was really and truly completely alone.
I snapped a couple pictures for Cooper and then told my guide I was ready to go.
In the parking lot outside, I lost it and my poor guide didn't know what to do with me.