While spending the weekend in Buenos Aires last Sunday, I attempted to make a day trip to Montevideo, Uruguay. However, after I boarded the Busquebus ferry in Puerto Madera intense fog set in and delayed the boat’s departure for several hours, forcing me to abandon my plans and to stay in Buenos Aires. On Monday June 30 I had a great meeting with Carlos Dora from the World Health Organization (WHO) who is directing a project on which I am consulting to advise developing countries on the potential for using environmental law to recover for damage to public health caused by pollution. On Monday afternoon I flew back to Santiago to catch my return flight to the United States, arriving on Tuesday morning. During the 26 hours that I was back in the D.C. area I had a nice visit with my family and made a quick stop at work in Baltimore.
On Wednesday July 2 I returned to China with my daughter Marita who is 19 years old. It is Marita’s first trip to China. We arrived in Beijing on Thursday afternoon and brushed off jet lag by joining Zhang Jingjing and a group of my Chinese students for dinner. On Friday morning Marita and I walked from my apartment to Tiananmen Square and then we visited the 798 Art District in northeast Beijing. On Friday afternoon my student Wang Xiahui joined us for a shopping expedition to the Pearl Market and the Silk Market. On Saturday we joined Zhang Jingjing and a group of her friends for an exploration of an area of the Great Wall at Jiangkou that is rarely visited by tourists. After a stop for lunch at a local home in the area two hours northeast of Beijing, we hiked up a mountain to the Wall and enjoyed some truly spectacular scenery with few other people around. On Sunday night my friends Dan Guttman, Zhong Zeezee, and Alan Lepp joined Marita and I for dinner and then came over to my apartment to watch the films my environmental law students made.
On Sunday morning Marita and I flew to Chengdu to visit the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. Prior to last May’s earthquake, we had been planning to visit the Wolong Panda Research Center in the mountains outside of Chengdu adjoining the protected area that is the largest habitat for pandas in the wild. However, the earthquake caused severe damage to the Center, killing five staff members and one panda, and it is now closed to the public. Instead of visiting Wolong, we went to the Chengdu Research Base where 60 pandas currently live. The Chengdu Base has the most successful captive breeding program for pandas in the world. We spent two and a half hours at the Base observing pandas and watching a movie that explained the panda breeding program and how pandas grow and develop. In return for a substantial donation to the Base, Marita was given an opportunity to hold a panda cub, 8-month old Shu Ling. Because pandas grow very fast this 8-month old cub was nearly as large as Marita. Photos of Marita in Beijing and Chengdu are posted online at: http://gallery.mac.com/rperci#100280
On Sunday night we had dinner at a famous local restaurant in Chengdu with Chen Xiang Zu, his wife, and Xu Rong, the husband of Zhang Jingjing’s best friend Delia. Xiang Zu and his wife are retired physicians who formerly worked in the area hardest hit by the May earthquake. They described what it was like to be there during the quake and their frantic efforts to reunite with their families. Xiang Zu offered to take us on a tour of the quake-affected area, but we have to leave in the early morning to fly to Yunnan Province.
My Chinese students have finished their final examinations in Environmental Law and Comparative Environmental Law. I am now grading them and I will submit the grades before I return to the U.S. the week after next.