“Ben Vecchio landed in the Urumqi Diwopu International Airport at ten in the morning not knowing what time it really was or what time it was supposed to be. Despite its vast territory, the entire People’s Republic of China was on one time zone. Beijing time. You might be in Yunan province, Xi’an, or the Tibetan plateau, but you were still on Beijing time.
He roused himself and, ignoring his sleeping seat mate, shoved his way into the aisle to grab his bag from the overhead bin. Personal space, he had quickly learned when he landed in Asia, was not a universal value. He stretched out his cramped legs and barely winced when the formidable grandmother in front of him knocked him on the jaw with her suitcase.
She said something to him in what he guessed was Uyghur. She said it again, scowling at his clueless look.
“I don’t understand you,” he told her in Mandarin, the language he’d been practicing for three years.
Three years and he was still struggling. For the perfectionist he’d become under the training of his adopted uncle, Giovanni Vecchio, it was unacceptable. Ben was hoping this trip would finally cement the language in his mind. Flip whatever switch was holding him back from true fluency.
The old woman gave him an odd look. She cocked her head and looked him up and down. Frowned again, then turned her back. Ben cautiously glanced around the plane, only to realize something astonishing.
He blended in. That’s why the old woman had given him a strange look. She had expected him to understand her.
Taking a deep—if exhausted—breath, the tension in his shoulders left, and Ben felt more relaxed than he had in days.”
And another very quick announcement, the paperback of Desert Bound is now up for preorder over on Amazon. It’ll be available to order in paperback from Barnes and Noble and all the usual suspects after release, but for preorders, I think Amazon is your only option. Just wanted to let you know!
Have a great Tuesday, and I’ll post a little later this week about Xinjiang, one of my favorite provinces in China and the primary setting for A Quick Trip to China.