The adventure started early, 2 a.m. early. The packing took days and hopefully have everything one might need during a month in China. We started driving towards the airport in Charlottesville, Virgina at 3 am. My original thoughts were that I needed to get to the airport early for check in and security for my flight. The United clerks don't start the check in process until 5 am - so I had the opportunity to chat it up with the folks at the airport waiting and met a woman who was a Fulbright to Egypt. Once the counter opened and checked in I proceeded to the security line... where I was selected for extra surprise additional screening. Wahoo, thanks for the extra awkward feel up. Through security and on my way to the gate for the first flight of many to come.
My flight to San Francisco was on time and I had a window seat! I was able to capture a few glimpses of the country below once the cloud cover diminished around Colorado. (Granted I may have slipped in about an hour of shut eye!)
The Vallombrosa center is beautiful! We checked in and I was able walk around some of the gardens for a few minutes. Our agenda for the evening started at 5pm with a Reception followed by dinner at 6pm. (My phone was able to be repaired during the reception in about 30 minutes!) We had an initial group orientation at 7pm where we were reunited with our passport that included my Chinese Visa. People this is REALLY happening! The night concluded with the movie "Please Vote for Me" (watch it- great documentary showing kids learning about democracy). After 22 hours of travel sleep called to be ready for day two of learning!