We did it. We went and saw the pandas.
It was actually just a lovely day; a low mist hanging on the horizon and groves of bamboo shrouding the pathways, big goofy looking bears munching on bamboo and lying about lazily, little red pandas scampering down the steps behind us (eek!), the kids running, always running, flowers reminding you that indeed those colors still exist in nature, and the comfortable presence of family.
And of course there were the throngs of Chinese who indeed you would have thought were mistaking us foreigners for pandas, what with all the picture taking and oohing and ahhing. There were times when we felt like we needed our own little bio sign, explaining how often we breed (four children!!), our diet (red meat! that's why they don't dress very warmly!), and why we are so tall. Really though, it's just awkward to be stared and laughed at and photographed when in our culture that is considered extremely rude. But here such is not usually the case, and I know that they are just interested, as well as generous in their compliments and friendliness.
Tomorrow we embark on our short, three day journey to a village where we know very little of what to expect, except that there are not toilets... only holes in the ground, and we were told today by our host to remember to bring bug spray. So far, sounds delightful! But nonetheless, we are all excited for the adventure.