Hello readers, I’m back with more of my Philippines tale. In the last installment we had traveled from my brother’s village to the airport in Cagayan D’Oro and were waiting for our flight to Manila.
We got to the airport with several hours to spare. Our first hiccup upon arriving was a broken elevator. We came in on the ground floor and needed to reach the second level to get to our gate. My brother was unfazed by this, probably because he had been getting around on bumpy roads and dirt paths for the past several months. He hobbled onto the escalator while other brother and I managed the bags.
Before we could go to our gate we had to pay some kind of exit tax. I can’t remember all the details, but I remember a line, then an official at a kiosk. Fortunately it was a quick process, and not horribly expensive, but still moderately annoying.
From there we went to the gate to wait for our flight. Interestingly the mayor was also at the airport, also on his way to Manila for some government business. We had known he would be traveling the same day, but didn’t know if we would be fortunate enough to run into him. We chatted with him for a few minutes, including some jocular discussion about how much more quickly he was able to make the trip in his official mayoral vehicle, then settled in to wait for our flight.
The most notable aspect of the wait was the choice of gateside entertainment. For reasons I will probably never understand, the TV screen next to the check-in desk was playing Air Crash Investigation. I am not making this up. Now, personally, I love the show. In fact, it was this show that awakened in me my latent fascination with airplanes and what makes them work. So, I was cool with it. But I wondered about two categories of passengers: nervous fliers and people who don’t speak English. I wondered if non-English speakers would know that it was a documentary. What if they thought it was some kind of pre-flight safety video. “Here are all the things that might go wrong in your flight. Be ready.”
After about an episode and a half of the show, it was time to board our flight to Manila. The flight was uneventful (to the probable relief of the non-English speakers who had been waiting at the gate). Actually, it’s not entirely accurate to say the flight was uneventful. The flight attendants on this particular airline spent a portion of the flight playing a game over the intercome. The object of the game was to have a selfie on your phone that met whatever criteria they asked for at the moment. Things like “a selfie at the beach.” Or “a selfie with a new pedicure.” The prizes were t-shirts and the like from the airline. I’m not really into selfies. I didn’t win anything.
We arrived in Manila in the late afternoon and spent some time doing administrative stuff for our flight out, and discovering that we would have to wait one day extra and fly on Saturday.
Then we picked up to-go food at the airport’s capacious and varied food court. The it was off to the guesthouse for some well-deserved rest. We got a taxi as quickly as we could after leaving the airport, not wanting to repeat our circuitous walk from earlier in the week. The driver almost took us to the other location of the guesthouse but we managed to correct him before it was too late. Check in was pleasant and uneventful. I think we were all very happy to be settled in somewhere for the night. I spend some time organizing my stuff for the plane trip, and doing some hand laundry, before finally collapsing gratefully into bed.
About that foreshadowing from Part II. I was looking forward to dropping off when suddenly I was jerked back to consciousness by a horrible squalling, that seemed to emanate from the floor beneath me. As I emerged from my near sleep, I started to recognize words. Words like “turn around bright eyes” and “rolling in the deeeeeeeep,” and ”let it go, let it go-o.”
With horror, I realized that our guesthouse was situated above a karaoke bar, which, apparently, was in full swing on this Thursday night. I should have realized that if it was running full tilt on a Thursday, Friday wasn’t likely to be better, but alas, I didn’t have that insight, or if I did, it wasn’t enough to translate into a change of hotels. And so it was that I passed a very fitful (but musical!) night in Manila.
The next morning I went over to the airport to see if I could do anything in advance to smooth our departure on the next morning. This wound up being a fool’s errand to the very bowels of the airport, accompanied by a very helpful if somewhat nonplussed airport employee. Because my airline has only one flight a day in and out of there, and doesn’t really have its own check in desk, the only way to talk to anyone from the airline was to find them in the employee area. Eventually I talked to an agent, who advised I just come back a few hours before flight time the next day. Since I was in the range of the amazing food court I went and got something to eat and checked in with my brothers, who were out and about doing something. I can’t remember what, but probably eating, or maybe buying cigarettes.
Later we all met up at the airport. Philippines brother had been saying that he hoped to see a friend from the village, who was in the army and was stationed at the base in Manila. It was semi-close to the airport, so we agreed to go meet up with him at a Jolly Bee near the base. Tune in next time to learn about the Philippine’s most delicious export and our Friday night Manila adventure.