Tuesday, October 29, 2002

made it!

Okay, just a brief report on how we got to where we are, and then the usual daily posts beginning tomorrow. Not much commentary as I need to catch up!

Greenhills – Ninoy Aquino International Airport

Nikki, Sage and I left the condo at around 3 AM and got to the airport quicker than I expected. There was already a line a Northwest so I parked my girls with the luggage and proceeded to pay the travel tax. Remember when I said I thought I had to pay for Sage as well? I told the person in charge she was just an 8-month old baby and he exempted her from the P1,620 tax – asking only P100 for the paperwork. I was happy to oblige.

We got our bulkhead seating and tried tocancel the Detroit-Buffalo leg of our trip to no avail. We could just leave the Detroit airport, the guy said, but our luggage would continue on to Buffalo with or without us, due to the nature of the E-ticket we got. Well, I decided to problematize about that when we got there.

On the plane, we sat at the end of the 4-seat middle section. Then a woman with a 6-month old girl took the other aisle seat. While we were wondering what poor soul was condemned to sit between two babies, a huge man arrived, looked at the us, looked at the other baby, grimaced in sad surrender, and sat down between us.

Manila – Nagoya, Japan

The good news is that Sage was not a problem in the slightest. She barely cried and charmed everyone around her. All my fears about flying with her were unfounded – at least, I thought thankfully, for the first leg of the trip.

The other child was a nightmare, doing everything I thought Sage would! She howled and mewled and provoked hateful stares. At one point, Sage tried to “talk” to her to help calm her down.

We arrived in Nagoya and were told that instead of the one-hour layover, it was now 6 hours, due to a hydraulic problem with the plane. I was stunned to stuck in the airport of the country I hated to be in, due to the expense, and surely enough we spent too much money getting food and other things.

Sage however worked the Alfar charm on all the Japanese salesladies (and we saw them all, I swear!). They echoed “kawaii!” over and over again and tittered among themselves.

I demarcated an area in the airport and let Sage crawl to her heart’s desire. Captivated by the baby, many of our co-passengers spent time with us and we made a lot of new friends, including the the CEO/Presidents of two other companies (unexpected networking), plus residents and citizens going home. We ended up with a number of invitations to visit, which was delightful.

The only redeeming value of Nagoya’s airport was the smoking lounge. My lighters were confiscated in Manila (I hid three and they found them all) but a nice lady gave me hers.

Why do I hate Japan? Because I had to buy a sandwiches for Nikki and myself, and they each cost US$5.00. Can you imagine my outrage? You couldn’t even select what kind. The menu board simply said “Sandwich”. Turned out to be the most expensive tuna sandwich in the history of the world.

Nagoya – Minneapolis- Detroit

Again, Sage proved wonderful, almost as if she was built to travel. She was so well-behaved I was perturbed. She was so well-known by then (due to multiple bondings at Nagoya) that people came up to us to talk to her en route to the US.

The other child, sadly, played the stereotype and nobody liked her. Poor thing. At one point, I was about to volunteer to take care of her myself, but my frustrated seatmate took it upon himself to suddenly become the child’s surrogate father and ended up carrying the child, making formula, etc. Sad, sad.

Time passed quicker than I thought and we changed crews in Minneapolis (due to some restriction about shifts that got put to the test with the delay in Japan).

Finally we arrived in Detroit, broke my back lifting the luggage I borrowed from my partner Marc (damn you for your kindness Marc! That bitch is overweight by its empty self!) and passed immigration and customs (I did not declare the various foodstuffs like queso de bola we had for pasalubong to various people). Because of the delay and the fact that Detroit was Northwest’s hub, we had access to al, our luggage – so no hitch, no hassle, we walked out of the airport and met with with Nikki’s mom and CIA agent Max.

By the way, the new Detroit airport is the possibly the largest and most sophisticated airport in the world. It’s the biggest I’ve been to and my god, I was just sprawling.

Detroit – Rochester Hills

We stayed with Nikki’s uncle Gene,a doctor, for a few days at his townhouse in Rochester Hills. His place had a backyard that had a stream and we’d feed the wild mallards and squirrels. I saw my first hedgehog too, as well as an albino bird of paradise that was just hanging out there in the bitter bitter cold. And yes, it was freezing. My slacks and black tee combo was swiftly covered by multiple layers of less fashionable warmth, but what they hey.

We went on food binges, visiting Greektown in Detroit and La Shish in Troy. Visions of Behrouz in Manila almost made me cry, but the middle eastern fare at La Shish was actually good. I drowned in seven varieties of baba ganoosh and other yogurt-based sauces and of course lamb and kebab to death.

Tomorrow: Degas and the Dance, Crossing Ohio and Pennsylvania to New York, and the Webb’s at Lake Chautauqua.

It’s freezing here!


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