A convergence of circumstances made this day…different. After breakfast, we headed for Xi’an Airport. While we waited to receive our boarding passes, one gentleman in our group was approached by a street artist who offered to do a profile-portrait of him in paper. He did an exquisite job with a small pair of scissors, and I’ll have to try to get a shot of that tiny masterpiece, which got him twice the amount he’d asked for.
When we got our passes, we went to the gate and waited to board our plane…and waited…and waited. About an hour behind schedule, the airline people quietly opened the door and let people board with no explanation that I can recall hearing. I’d been contacted by CBS News for an interview about the eclipse and found a window in our schedule that allowed some time to meet them at 5:30 pm, Shanghai Time. The hour-late flight wouldn’t be a problem – we could still make it in time for the interview. Lunch was served on board the flight, including a foil bag of some unknown condiment, labeled only in Chinese. GAAHHHH – chili pepper sauce…took a while to put the flames out. I hoped it wasn’t an indication of what all Shanghai food is like.
After we landed, we got our luggage and boarded the buses and waited to leave…and waited…and waited, finally finding out that one person in our group had managed to get separated, so we had to wait while our travel managers ran around the airport to find the wayward member of our flock. That pushed us even farther behind schedule, and we were now seriously concerned that we wouldn’t be back by 5:30. As on our first day in Xi’an, instead of going to the hotel from the airport, we went straight for another walking tour, this time of a small village outside of Shanghai, but while the group disembarked to explore the town, the tour manager arranged for me to stay on board the bus so that I could be driven to the hotel in time to meet the CBS crew…so sorry, no pictures of the village tour. I was just glad to find out later that we finally did recover our missing person, safe & sound. On eclipse day, you might catch something of that interview on the CBS national news, if they decide use any of it. If the weather holds out, the TV people also want to join us at the viewing site at Dishui Lake to catch totality. Immediately after the interview, I gave my second talk to our group, previewing the eclipse, then went to what – to my relief – was a pleasantly non-spicy dinner in one of the hotel ballrooms, combining with other tour groups from UCLA and MIT.
Then, during dinner, from inside the hotel, we heard the thunder…
As I write, it’s raining, and there’s sheet lightning flashing about every 5 seconds. Here’s a shot of our hotel grounds that I just took.
It’s not daytime. It’s about 10-ish at night, and the scenery is being illuminated by lightning.
The official weather forecast isn’t the most optimistic, but there are still 10 hours to go – anything could happen…right…???