Wednesday, April 9, 2003

March 27th - March 28th: Mabuhay to Manila

Thursday, March 27th: What a cruddy night sleep. The sunburn really did not treat me well. I should know better by now. We decided to have breakfast elsewhere, and before we knew it, the clouds had opened up. We made it back to the hotel rooms before it really came down, and watched the sheets of rain from our balcony.

This didn’t make me very comfortable with our flight this afternoon. I also have a ridiculous fear of falling from great heights, as 17 floors up feels to me. Having the kids on the balcony made my heart pound, especially as things were a bit slippery with the rain. I found it easier just to sit and write some postcards.
By 11 a.m. the rain had stopped and we did a final walk past the extravagantly priced Louis Vuitton store. Who needs a $500 coin purse anyhow? Someone must. We also passed the quasi Duty Free store where I’d bought some dolphin shaped chocolate and guava/papaya scented soap. Yeah, I actually bought this stuff. But the soap smelled so good! I should have picked up the same soap but the one with the loofa inside. Probably would help me later with this sunburn. Anyhow, the shuttle eventually showed and I’m so glad we insisted on the early time. We were the first stop on almost an hour of touring the area picking up travelers from here there and everywhere. Eventually we did make it to the airport and had someone take our tickets to check-in and our bags to the x-ray while Ian went to do the amazing. He went to a separate desk and explained our situation in detail.
A half hour later (and some annoyed people in line), he had 3 new tickets with boarding passes in hand. Holy cow, everything went perfectly.
We meandered over to the gate only to find it all locked up, with all the stores around closed up. Was everything shut for lunch? How odd. So we went to get some lunch ourselves and learned that all the shops close up once the flights to Japan depart. Well, thanks a lot! Thank goodness we’d done our souvenir shopping at the resort. I’d picked up a small photo album made with some Hawaiian paper art and the girls had picked up hula skirts for themselves. At the airport with the rest of her money, Rebecca bought a hula doll as mother to the hula girl she’d bought earlier. All Nicholas came away with from this trip was a Warner Brothers beach ball. He wanted a big beach ball, that’s what he got and he was happy. And he had plenty of change from his $5.
Back at the gate and it was finally open. Thank goodness my mom was flying out today too so she could get past main security, but because this wasn’t her flight, they wouldn’t let her into the gate. Blah. We had to go in as early boarders with 4 kids and 2 car seats, so there was no hanging around saying goodbyes. It was best this way. We made it short and sweet and my mom headed over to her own gate to avoid getting upset in front of the kids. Ian asked if I was OK and honestly, no, I wasn’t. The longest I’ve ever not seen my mom is about 6 weeks. If they come to visit next Feb-March, this is going to be a year. This is going to be hard. Harder than I want to admit.
It was getting warm and not soon enough we were allowed to board. The seats were fairly cramped, but every seat had a TV screen and one of our movie options was Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, so we were all perfectly comfortable. The overhead screens showed our flight path and ETA which I thought was pretty cool.
Nicholas was asleep before we left Hawaii soil and Jonathon conked out soon after. He slept fitfully so eventually I gave him a bit of Tylenol thinking that the air pressure or something was bugging him. Only Rebecca made it to eat a meal. The girls did manage to write letters to grandma on the flight. A couple hours later he calmed down and slept the entire rest of the flight. In fact, Rebecca finally fell asleep and Katherine did as well. I couldn’t have planned a better flight than 4 sleeping children for almost 7 straight hours.
At around 5:30 p.m. Thursday ended and Friday was on its way to closure. Hello International Date Line.
Friday, March 28th: What can one say about a day that never really existed? Oh, a lot, just you wait. We crossed the International Date Line to reach Guam and suddenly it was Friday evening and Thursday but a memory. The kids were sleeping while I filched all the snacks and foodstuffs from their trays into my backpack for when they woke up. It was a good thing too because even though we only had an hour on the ground in Guam, they were all hungry. It happens when you sleep through all your meals on a 7 hour flight.
I did stop in to the only store open and helped out the Guam economy by buying a set of BoJo Bo dolls. My good luck is coming any day now, I can feel it. Got back onto yet another plane and all the kids conked right out and missed yet another meal, which I admit, I pocketed everything but the spaghetti.
So we landed in Manila and woke everyone yet again, promising them that it was the last flight for a long while. We were 45 minutes early, in a swarm of people and our sponsor was no where to be found. Heading over to the customs lines we figured it was better to be actively doing nothing rather than passively doing nothing. After a few minutes we decided we were in the wrong lane and about to switch when Ian decided to go back to the gate and see if we’d missed the sponsor. Finally, she arrived, and we handed over our passports to the expediter and went to collect our bags.
Getting through customs and collecting our bags took about the same amount of time and before we knew it we were in a van heading out into Manila while our bags were in another van right behind us. I guess they were expecting us to have 12 bags (which we were allowed, but couldn’t fathom how we’d manage them with carrying Jonathon, pulling Nicholas and constantly telling the girls to keep up! Maybe on our next cross the world trip. In two years.)
Our barangay (aka neighborhood) is Dasmarinas Village. It’s a large barangay with lighted (but not well-lighted) tree-lined streets. Most of the homes are walled or gated within the outer wall. We pulled up our home and were in awe. It’s a white two-story with big columns and a carport on the side. There’s no real yard other than a small patch of grass in the front, but the front doors are stunning wooden French doors with lovely detail. Walking in there’s a huge L-shaped living into dining room with an extra bedroom/office to the right. Also to the right is the staircase to upstairs. Gorgeous inlayed floors on the stairs and the upper floor were the second thing I noticed. The stairs end in an upstairs den with a master bedroom to the left and the 2 kids bedrooms to the right (with a bathroom between them). Off the master bedroom is a dressing room that leads into the master bath. All the bathrooms are marble tiled. In fact, so are all the floors on the main floor. There are bars on all the windows and a full house security system. Part of life overseas. The furniture is all typical bland government issue but there’s plenty of it so no complaints. And we have a welcome kit that provides sheets, towels, pots, utensils and all necessary items. But, there is no crib here. Uh oh.
After looking around for a minute, our social sponsors from down the street came by and we chatted for a bit. Mostly though, the kids were getting wired and we were beyond exhausted. Broken sleep on a flight doesn’t make anyone well rested, so without being rude everyone headed home and we jerry-rigged a walled twin bed with chairs and pillows for Jonathon. There were no complaints from anyone as the lights went out.

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