Charades

GUILIN, China — I stretch my arm into the air to draw an imaginary river, but it is met with another highly baffled look by the woman in front of me. “Tour. Li River. Yangshuo,” I said while trying my darnedest to conceal my frustration. Spirit of Mulan, guide me.

It has come down to this: charades. I then raise my forearm and form a shape of a mountain. Two mountains. A dozen now.

“Why you come to China?” the woman repeats. The woman, an immigration officer. Seated behind the counter. Holding my passport. Personifying that one fear I have about traveling to this country: be deported even before I could get out of the airport. And it looks like it’s exactly what is about to unfold. Behold.

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