Chapter 43: Going to John's China Hometown | Speaking of China

5 Responses

  1. Jessica
    Jessica March 23, 2010 at 5:14 am | | Reply

    I’m lucky in that I love my husband’s hometown. It is beautiful, on the bank of the Pearl river and flanked by lovely lush green mountains. The village itself isn’t much, but it has its charm too. Of course much of Yunnan is like that, it is a gorgeous province. I’d totally live in my husband’s home village if it weren’t for the village attitude and the complete and utter lack of opportunities there. I think I actually like my husband’s hometown more than he does.

    I have to say though, my husband warned me about his family house, but he definitely wasn’t kidding when he said it was pretty basic. I can’t say I was exactly prepared for the absolutely disgusting outhouse buzzing with insects or the bed that consisted (at least until we purchased our marriage bed) a plank with a blanket on it. I wasn’t thrilled with those things, but I’m a traveler and honestly I’d seen worse. I think I was expecting a total pit from the way my husband described it, but I found even the house had its certain appeal, and just the idea of it, that his dad built it with his bare hands after returning from the war and marrying his mom, sort of charmed me. It isn’t like I ever have to put up with the place for more than a week at a time at the most, so I take it in stride pretty much.

  2. Melissa
    Melissa March 23, 2010 at 7:23 am | | Reply

    There was a lot of build up to my first visit to Guatemala to visit my now husband. By the time I visited we had already been together close to two years. Guatemala city itself, where he lived was not impressive. It was dirty, full of buses blowing smoke and people selling trinkets at red lights. His house was sufficient although in the mornings I learned often times the city runs out of water. Also, they don’t have hot water heaters, so hot water can be pretty scarce. All in all that would be ok except that Guatemala is at a pretty high elevation amongst mountains and the water is really cold. We traveled the whole country while I was there and despite all it’s negatives I have to admit I fell in love with Guatemala. I don’t think I realized it at the time, but I know now that’s exactly what happened because I find myself craving to go back.

    Guatemala is a country of contrasts, heaven and hell all in one place equivalent to the size of Tennessee. Sometimes I ask myself if I truly love Guatemala or if I love the place my husband comes from. I think it’s a little bit of both.

  3. globalgal
    globalgal March 23, 2010 at 9:58 pm | | Reply

    Just wanted to say thank you for writing about this! I’ve lived in China for four years, yet I am such an outsider (on the fringe, I say). Your posts, and the blogs of other yangxifus, give me that glimpse into private lives that I have missed. I do have several close Chinese friends, but seeing a place through a loved one’s eyes is totally different. Visiting my husband’s hometown in Spain was surprising, too. As an American growing up in a “young country” it was astonishing to see history around every corner. He grew up in a living, breathing museum of a medieval city surrounded by a black, sooty industrial ribbon. When we moved to China, he could relate to many things, because he had seen similar huge changes in Spain over the years – progression from a fascist regime to a constitutional monarchy, (obviously we won’t see democracy here, but you know what I mean – the opening up), from one of the most backward European nations to a developed nation (that at the moment is not doing too great economically, unfortunately.) He remembers censorship. He remembers squat toilets and outhouses and dirt roads and single stroke engine vehicles. He remembers his city and the local rivers as heavily polluted by the coal mining and steel industries. (They’ve only recently been cleaned up.) His parents lived through rationing and the iron fist of Franco (though his mother adored him – her father died a hero in one of the epic battles of the Civil War, for Franco, of course.) Some people might think that an intercultural marriage between an American and a European is not so difficult, but we have our differences, believe me! I never truly understood him until I visited his hometown (our visit ended up being a year long, so I really got to know the place!)

    @Jessica – I think the fact that your father-in-law built the house himself would charm me, as well.

  4. Zak
    Zak November 17, 2010 at 10:28 am | | Reply

    Hi Jocelyn,
    My lovely wife comes from Anhui, about 70 km NW of Huangshan. I spent Spring Festival 2004 in her village – it was *rather* spartan : Hand operated lever water pump in the courtyard, power bill of 12 RMB a year for the 2 naked globes and 12 inch B/W TV….however the hospitality was great and I didn’t hear one ‘Laowai’ or ‘helllooo’ in 8 days. It was a bit chilly though, say -6 C but I had plenty of warm clothes and never felt cold. Biggest problem was being woken at 3 am by a full bladder and arguing with myself about how long it would take to get up, pee in a secret empty bottle and then get back under the nice warm quilts. I finally settled on 54 seconds !

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