End of the semester for the Bright Future sex ed class
The same weekend as the bath house/octopus wrestling adventure, we also spent an afternoon playing games, baking Christmas cookies, and having fun with local university students that attended the sexuality class Jessica’s been volunteering with this semester. Jessica’s actually been volunteering regularly every semester, and this weekend was sort of the end-of-semester party. The students are fun and the cookies are good. For more on the sex ed class, see here, here, and here, or see the links at the end of this post. Jessica has a million interesting stories from observing these classes each semester — the class is for many students their first time to have any real sexual education. Kristi, our friend who heads up the whole project and teaches the classes (in Chinese!), could (and should!) write a book.
After Joel’s eventful evening at the bathhouse, he returned home…at that time, around 10:30 pm, the ground was still dry. However, when I left my friend’s house at about 11:15, there was already about an inch of snow on the ground and it was falling fast. By the time I got home about 20 minutes later, I was covered from head to toe with snow…and had icicles in my hair. Since it hardly ever snows in Tianjin, it wasn’t difficult to convince Joel that we should go out for a nice romantic midnight walk in the snow. He put all of his stuff back on, we strolled along the canal and down to the TV tower. The snow was still falling pretty heavily, and it was so peaceful and still outside, aside from the occasional whoops of joy from the other few people out playing in it.
Tianjin is so dry that last winter we basically didn’t get any snow. Our local friends say that when they were little Tianjin used to get decent snow every year, but no these days. We’ve seen only two “big” snows since we got here…one two days after we arrived back in Feb. 2007, and the one this weekend. I did see a few flakes fall on my birthday last year, but I was the ONLY one that saw them…so they must have been a special gift just for me. One local friend speculated that the dryness has to do with the deforestation and desertification in Inner Mongolia, which is where Tianjin’s weather blows in from. Either way, we weren’t expecting snow for Christmas, so this is extra special.
Once we got to the TV tower, we found some untouched areas of snow…fell backwards into them and made some snow angels. We would have made a snow man too, but we didn’t think about it until after we were already soaked from making the snow angels. Note to self for next time we get this much snow in Tianjin: Snowman first, and THEN snow angels. It was an awesome walk…we finally came home around 1:30 in the morning…but were so excited that it took quite a while to fall asleep.
Unfortunately at this point two days later, there is very little white snow left…and the slush on the roads is BLACK.
There’s no getting around the ankle-deep icy muddy slush that’s covered Tianjin’s roads for most of the last two days. Tianjin city deals with the snow by sending out saltwater trucks and legions of migrant workers who shovel all the ice and slush into three-wheel carts.
The worst of it had melted away by the time I took this photo this afternoon. I (Joel) spent two hours biking across town and back yesterday; bald road-bike tires (what most people have) weren’t made for this stuff. Navigating major intersections full of taxis, buses, bikes, and three-wheel carts sure is a lot more interesting though, especially when you don’t want to lose momentum and have to put your foot down.