It’s a lovely day here for staying in and not going to the Great Wall. Really, we’re all feeling quite festive about it.
After that first phone call yesterday, we were quietly encouraged to get the kids down to the pool while Rob met with officials. When they called us back up, they swabbed our throats (just about the only thing that could have made Wyatt less thrilled in general about the Chinese people as a whole was one of them, in a hazmat suit and a mask, sticking a swab down his throat…I am sure he would have preferred that they touch his hair and try to take a picture!)
And then they told us to pack, and then the negotiations began. Two officials from two different medical bureaus, one representative of the Beijing city commission, and the hotel duty manager, Eric–in many ways the hero of our story. It took a while to figure out who represented what, and who wanted and needed what–especially since the medical officials spoke no English, and the Beijing official decent but not completely fluent English. Eric spoke extremely well, but he was very careful about his role and didn’t translate unless George, the Beijing official, asked for his help.
I was able to understand a little, and I think convinced the medical officials that I understood more. That’s a common thing, don’t you think, not to be able to really believe that someone doesn’t understand you when you’re speaking a language that’s totally familiar to you. So they were wary of us.
We were polite, but firm–we didn’t want to move unless they could give us a room we could all share comfortably, like we have here. And everything they suggested, we checked. The American embassy helped by telling us what problems had happened in different official quarantine hotels. Eric was firmly supportive–if we could stay here, he would take care of us.
6 hours later…seriously, 6 hours of negotiation, about 4 of which I missed because I was coping with the kids, although I do think I contributed–we are still here, and they’ve said we can stay. I would not be shocked at all if they come back this morning to re-engage, but we’re hopeful that won’t happen.
I am sure the quarantine hotels are fine, and not that much different, but I really can’t have us split up. For one thing, you can’t have a 3-year-old wandering the halls of a hotel at night, and for another, I’m not really 100% sure we would be allowed in the halls. I was afraid they would assign our rooms and force us to stay there, and since this hotel was willing to accomodate us–in fact they seem kind of amused, as though they’d just acquired a family of gerbils. I’m sure that if nothing else, we won’t have to worry about bottled water. But they did make us turn off the a/c.
We will also know this morning if any of those throat swabs came back positive. Everyone feels fine, but it’s hard not to think things may go from baddish to worse. If we can stay here for four days, that’s the best possible outcome at this point, so keep your fingers crossed for us.
Sam and Lily are enjoying the Discovery network, Eric and friends will be back this morning with dvds and coloring books and stickers. I think they’re going to take good care of us–I HOPE they get the chance!
I’ll put up pictures from yesterday and of the room later. We’ll have lots of time. If anyone wants to Skype, let us know! Just make it ring–my handle is kryptonh, or search me.