Friday, August 14, 2009

Our Tour Guide

On our second day in Sancha, we decided to strike out on another path away from the village. We had heard that you can cross into the next valley and reach a summit where there is a section of Yuan Dynasty Great Wall. Unlike the Ming Dynasty sections, which date back hundreds of years, this Yuan Dynasty section marks its age as something like two thousand years. Now this we had to see!

Ever the gracious host, Wei Ziqi, once he heard about our plans, offered his son to be our guide for the morning. Wei Jia is about the same age as Z. Although he has grown up in Sancha, he actually attends school in another town, as the village is much too small to warrant its own classrooms. What this has meant, in practical terms, is that Wei Jia lives from Monday through Friday away from his parents, returning to Sancha only for weekends and vacations. It is a routine he has kept up since he entered first grade as a six year old.

Leading us away from the village seemed to be no problem for Wei Jia, at least not at first. But then we made the mistake of leaving the path for a few moments, only to find it difficult to retrace our steps back. It was at that point that Wei Jia pulled out a map of the area that his father had just scribbled down on a piece of paper.

After surveying the terrain, Wei Jia seemed confident that he knew the way. Neibianr, he said. "That way."

It was at that point that things didn't seem to add up. As Glenn pointed out, we were not really walking on a path anymore, but rather switchbacking our way up some terraced fields that looked like they have been left fallow for many, many years.

It was at that point I asked Wei Jia if he hikes out this way often.

Hen shao, came the reply. "Not very often."

Eventually, we turned around and headed back down the mountain, in search of the elusive trail.

After a few more twists and wrong turns, we eventually did find our way back to the path. For Wei Jia, though, a different problem was beginning to present itself. Apparently, Wei Ziqi had told his son to have us all back in time for lunch. Thanks to all of our detours, lunch time was quickly approaching and we had not even sniffed the Great Wall.

It was at this point that Glenn picked up the pace. Z and I decided to follow, which left Desi, Julie, and Wei Jia to sit on the mountainside in the shade, awaiting our return and news of what lies up ahead.

When we returned down the hill a while later, we happily reported that we had reached the summit and located the Yuan Dynasty Great Wall. For Wei Jia, though, going further up the mountain was a non-starter. In his estimation, it really was time to jet back to Sancha.

Desi, thinking as a mother, judged it important that we honor Wei Ziqi's wishes and make sure Wei Jia and the rest of us return to Sancha by the appointed hour. And so that's what we did, even though Desi, thinking as an adventurer, was definitely not happy to miss out on experiencing another very different and very interesting section of the wall. First a mother, then an adventurer...That's Desi!

~Steve

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