Tuesday, August 5, 2003

Cebu Day 1

Yes, it's taken a while to put this up. Sorry!

Cebu – It’s a smallish island down in the middle of the Philippine archipelago and I do believe we’re the only people who can go to a little spot of land in the middle of a sea, and not go to the beach.

With a departure flight at 7 a.m., we awoke to the 4:30 buzz of the alarm and shook the children awake in the dark. A 5:30 shuttle pick-up dropped us off at the domestic airport which consists of 2 large rooms (one that holds the ticket counters, the other the waiting room with the 4 gates of double glass doors to awaiting buses). There are 6 steps before you can get from one room to the other with too many people at each step watching and double checking that everything is going right. It goes something like this… have bags scanned before entering building, stop at ticket counter and get boarding passes, stop at airport fee desk, stop at desk to make sure you’ve paid airport fee, go through another x-ray machine, get checked again to make sure you have boarding pass… exit to waiting room.
From taking the bus to the plane on the tarmac to getting snacks and playing games on the plane, it was all good. And I’m not kidding about the games, as on the flight out we were asked questions about the Philippines. The only one I knew was the first “What’s the 3rd largest English speaking country” but I was joking with Katherine and said Canada, so she whipped up her hand and said Canada and was… wrong! D’oh! Oh well, she didn’t win a prize on the way to Cebu.
The flight was uneventful but for the realization that I should have insisted that Jonathon have his car seat. He was wriggling all over and in my attempts to buckle and tighten he figured out the clasp and found it quite amusing that he could unbuckle anytime he felt like it. In retrospect I should have had Ian sit with him since he insisted not only on buying him a seat for a 1 hour flight, but also on not bringing the car seat to restrain him. Oh well, live and learn.
We arrived at the lovely Cebu International airport right on time and in the rain so we didn’t get to see much of the island or the surrounding waters on the descent. A “car” was waiting for us and Ian commented it was the first time that there was someone waiting in the lobby holding up a sign with his name on it. It was amusing. So we took the cab from Lapu-Lapu City over the Mactan Bridge to the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel where we checked in, Ian went to work in the Consular Office downstairs and the kids and I got comfy in the Lobby with our bags. See, when you arrive at 9 a.m. and rooms aren’t available until 2 p.m. there’s a bit of a wait. I had my big backpack and a suitcase and 4 kids. And no paper and crayons. How did I manage to forget coloring supplies? Well, I had brought some sticker books and reading books, so for about an hour we got cozy. There were some shops, we went window shopping and found a restaurant for dinner. By 11 we were hungry enough and bored enough to get some lunch. The kids were so good but by 12:30 we were worn out and I decided that enough was enough and we were getting a room. And after a little haggling, we did. An “Ambassador Suite” that was just barely big enough for all of us, but we were thrilled. Jonathon could nap, the kids could watch TV and I didn’t have to drag the bags around anymore. By 4 we were better rested and went down to the office to pick up Ian. Well, for a slow work place, we perused the periodicals and political library for about an hour before his work was completed. It wasn’t all for naught. Ian’s co-worker asked what we had planned for Saturday and honestly, we had nothing planned. I’d bought a map earlier in the day and figured we’d pick two or three places that looked interesting and just catch cabs around town. Instead, he told us about this friend of his (ah, yes) who had a car company and could provide a day long tour. Because we’d need a van, it would cost a little more, but we jumped on the idea. For the hefty sum of $40, we had a van, a tour guide driver and a full day of attractions planned. How cool is that?
Dinner that night was at La Gondola in the hotel. The food was amazing. My meal was breaded Lapu Lapu (a kind of whitefish, akin to a grouper), Ian had salmon while the kids split pasta and pizza. Rather than sit longer for dessert, we stopped by the bakery shop in the lobby and picked out several personal sized cakes to share up in the room. Oh, they were so good. Then we faced the task of finding space for everyone to sleep. The hotel room came with a king sized bed. We asked for a twin cot which the girls would share, but that left the boys. The “couch” was just the right size for Nicholas, so we took the cover off the twin and folded it like a sleeping bag for him, while giving the girls the king sized cover. Hmmm. Jonathon. What to do with Jonathon. He hadn’t slept in a crib for 4 months but it was the only idea I could come up with. I figured we could just take the mattress out and set it up on the floor. Well, the crib that arrived was about 50 years old and had a ½ flip down side. And the mattress, while huge, was very thin and in extremely poor condition. OK, change of plan, leave the mattress in the crib, fold down the half side but push up the coffee table so he wouldn’t feel like he was trapped in there, and voila, everyone was happy. In fact, there wasn’t a single complaint about bedtime. The all conked out and so did we.

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