Running to the market

We are getting back on our feet after the food poisoning (have we said that already? :)) Seriously though, it hit us hard, and this morning’s tough run was proof that our bodies are still recovering. We are in the last few weeks of training for a half marathon, and the food poisoning caused us to miss a week and a half of running. In the meantime, the weather has become rather warm here, in the 80s most days. There are more people out exercising in the mornings, and a few more runners on the road! I must admit, I actually try to run a little faster here out of patriotism. I realize (this is Liz writing) this is somewhat illogical, but it’s true. My long-run outfit is also red, white, and blue (this is coincidental). No one is going to mistake me for an Olympian anytime soon, but it’s interesting how being in a foreign country has brought out my patriotic side. I’ve also learned that if I respond to the inevitable stares and gawking with a smile, most often, I get a smile in return. Every once in a while there’s an obnoxious person who yells out HELLO in the loudest voice possible, just to get laughs from other observers. I usually ignore this, but I’ve thought about stopping and yelling NI HAO (hello in Chinese) really loud just to make a point. I probably won’t, since that would mean slowing down.

We’ve been cooking up a storm in our home! After two months of going out to eat, it finally got old (getting sick probably had a lot to do with it). We both love Chinese food, and it is really cheap to eat out, but we were craving “xicai” (Western Food) and some more normalcy in our daily routine. This has meant that we’ve been heading to the markets for fresh food a few days a week. The produce here would be the envy of anywhere I’ve ever been in the US. It’s fresh, bountiful, and incredibly inexpensive. We’ve been taking advantage of this to learn some new words and some new foods. They have most things we have in the States, but it’s not always exactly the same. The carrots here are a little sweeter and are about the size of my forearm.

Bargaining is the norm here in China, in any marketplace. However, foreigners can expect a “foreigner’s mark up” right off the bat. Although I’ve been frustrated at having to pay higher prices than the locals, it’s motivating to learn the language so that one day I can bargain (and therefore perhaps pay) like a local. I have always been a pretty good negotiator in the States, but here I have no skill. When the shopkeeper tells you the price and you counter-offer, they look at you disdainfully – like you just kicked a puppy… or worse! It was really disarming the first few times it happened, until I realized that this reaction is all part of the negotiation process here. I’m also getting to know fair prices for things, which really helps. I asked a Chinese person how they know what to counter offer, and they told me, “You just have to know it in your heart.” This was not so helpful, but I got the drift… “Follow your gut.”


5 Responses to “Running to the market”

  1. 1 mjfalk May 6, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    A smile says a thousand words—regardless of the response (or lack thereof!). Yeah, I thought of a lot of smartalecky ways to respond to showoffs there, but in the long run it probably serves a greater purpose to rise above (outwardly at least—-if God’s grace gives the inner spirit, as well, that is even better—-I envy you that) those little petty inclinations. Americans do probably come across to many in other countries as assuming some sort os superiority on the world stage—so, taking the high road will help break down some of the barriers to the brotherhood that the Lord wants all of us to understand and foster. Simply said but not easily accomplished—it will probably take generations, but, nonetheless, let us begin. After all, this whole creation project was started by the Uncreated One, and He Alone will be here to see it through to completion—we just get the invitation and awesome privilege of partaking of that Life of His and His Project. That awareness should help all of us to sleep well at night and trust the Infinite to be in charge.

  2. 2 rachael May 6, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    Way to go with the long runs!!! we have postponed our long run until tomorrow…busy schedules! so i ran 4 miles yesterday adn we are going to do 10 tomorrow….

    can you belive we have less than 2 weeks left!!!!! yikes!!!!!!

    miss you guys!!! would love to chat soon!!!!! let’s get a virtual padded room set up!!!!!

  3. 3 Becca Lloyd May 6, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    Know it in your heart, huh? That is so poetic.

    I can imagine the facial expression from the counter-offer. After living amongst a large Chinese community here on Prospect Street, I’ve concluded that facial expressions are much more pronounced, animated, and really utilize facial muscles I haven’t considered using in everyday conversation. Am I wrong here?

  4. 4 Chris Burgwald May 7, 2008 at 12:39 am

    I say stop and yell. 🙂

  5. 5 Jim May 7, 2008 at 3:45 am

    Funny how patriotism can work. Thanks for the reminder.

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