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The coal trucks

Harbin, China

In America, there seems to be this whole substainability movement. People are trying to get back in touch with their food sources. Buy local. It's great. I'm all for it. We like to be in touch with everything. We are a hands on kind of family. We leased a vineyard and berry patch for a year, the year before we came to China. I understand exactly how much work goes into a bottle wine. I know about the berries, I learned that bird nets keep the birds out, infact the birds that get in die if you don't get to work early enough to save them. I mainly learned how little money the farmer got and how much money was invested. That same summer we built the yurt. We kind of did hands on overkill, which no doubt was why my husband wanted to come to China the next spring.
We don't do manual labor in here. We watch it. To me witnessing someone else breaking their back is more painful than doing it yourself.
The coal trucks are rolling in. We have a 5th floor apartment with a view of the coal boiler. We live in Harbin, it's way North. Its colder than you can imagine in the winter. Amazingly our apartment and the classrooms are warmer in the winter than they were in Shenyang. So at this time of year, the university buys coal to stockpile for the winter. We aren't talking a little coal. The will make a mountain higher than the 7 story apartment buildings. Coal trucks are big. They are loud. They are ugly and dirty. They are only allowed in the city after dark. So that means that they begin to deliver coal when we want to sleep. The noise is crazy. Truck after truck rolls in, all night, for 2 weeks. By the time all the coal is delivered the trucks will have destroyed the blacktop road.
The work that goes into each truck of coal is backbreaking. Somebody dug it out of a mine. Students have told me stories of the mines in their villages. They don't have happy endings. Then the coal is driven here. Nobody in the truck has a mask on. It is weighed, no workers wearing masks. And it is dumped in a pile. And that massive mountain of coal will be shovelled by hand to the boiler that will push hot water into my radiator. It will keep me warm next winter.
The noise will make me crazy, but thinking about the hardships of the workers makes me just as crazy.
So, even though I wanted to get up at the crack of dawn to mail the LOA to Beijing. I couldn't get to sleep until very late because of the coal trucks.
BUT WE WERE SUCCESSFUL IN MAILING IT! We grabbed one of Chris's students and she helped us at the post office to address the label in Chinese and it was placed into the hands of the postal clerk that mailed our dossier a year ago almost to the day. Yeah!!

permalink written by  carseat tourist on June 23, 2009 from Harbin, China
from the travel blog: Life in Harbin as an American English Teacher
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