Everyone still wants to take my picture. Some attempt to do so without asking. Clearly I'm something to behold for the Chinese, but they're also simply trigger-happy, like the stereotype of Japanese tourists (or the reality of digital camera-wielding Westerners). The family I was with today took about half a dozen pictures of themselves and me standing before every sign, entrance gate, entrance feature, and so on.
Young Muslim guy in Lanzhou night market was positively giddy at the strangeness of my appearance, pulling at the hairs on my hands and laughing almost beyond control, finally showing, by way of explanation, the lack of hair on his own hands. He also measured my fingers against his own, using his fingers as calipers, marveling, I guess, at the longness of mine. He videotaped me on his cell phone as I ate--I wasn't pleased at his failure to ask first, but his glee was hard to argue with.
This is prob. as good a time as any to explain my screen-name: literally "barbarian" in Spanish, it's what everyone in China seems to be thinking--if not saying--when they look at me. Caucasians are rare; people over six feet are rarer; redheads border on the mythological; and men with long hair and beards might as well be extraterrestrial creatures. Among Argentines, "barbaro" functions as an exclamation akin to "awesome," "boss," "sweet," "cool." May this blog inspire such surprise and wonder.