Saturday, February 13, 2010

My travellin' red shoe

Home again, home again.

Wow, what a ride! The past three months have been an incredible experience. Here are a few of my standout memories:

1. Discovering that Mom had to fall down in EVERY city we visited. In Hawaii, she fell down the stairs at my sister's home. Nothing gets your heart racing more than hearing your Mom walking down the stairs at 2am followed by a thumping and thudding sound...then silence. As I raced out of my room I wasn't prepared for the sight of my Mom lying on her side facing away from me - on the floor about two feet from the bottom of the stairs. Then my heart stopped when she didn't answer me for about thirty seconds. Mom was fine, just stunned because she missed the bottom step and tumbled. She had a doozy of a bruise on her hip and it hurt to walk for a few days.

1a. Mom tripped in the living room at my Grandmother's and almost flew headfirst into the wall - twice.

1b. This is a long one. In Hong Kong, we rode the MTR (Mass Transit Railway) where ever we wanted. Sidebar: I RODE THE TRAIN!! YEA ME!! We were on our way to Disneyland and as we entered the car, Mom sat down, my cousin and I rolled over to the disabled section. Mom was busy talking to us and didn't seem to be paying attention to the three warning bells followed by a loud voice over the speaker saying, "Please step back from the yellow line. The train doors are closing. Prepare for departure." The voice repeated the warning in Hong Kongnese and Chinese, neither of which we understood but there was an urgency in the tone. The announcement was again followed by three loud bells. Mom decided at this moment to change seats since we didn't move to where she wanted. Precisely when the doors shut and the train took off. Mom gave the eleven year old boy to her right a lap dance I'm sure he'll never forget; hopped over to his sister and butt slammed her face then fell sideways across the mother, sister and brother. As the mother tossed my Mom onto the empty seat beside her, my Mom said in fractured English (because as everyone knows, this is the best way to converse with non-English speakers) "Me not prepared for train go fast. Me not used to this". The mother looked at my Mom and said in a perfect New York accent, "We're not either."

2. Disneyland in Hong Kong is nothing like Disney in the U.S. People in HK dress up to go to the happiest place on earth. High heels, suits, miniskirts, designer purses, fur coats - they do it differently there. Merlin can't say his l's - "Aracazam!" - and the crowd shouts back, "Aracazam!" Disney dancers are, um, "happier" in HK. Nothing like having a green toy soldier hip thrust into your surprised face. As did Goofy, some spaceman, and Sneezy.

3. Eating the unknown. Fish lips. Weird sea veggies. Stinky fruit. Part of a cow I didn't want anyone to say out loud. Same thing for a pig. And a chicken. If it was put on a plate in front of me, I tried it. Iron cast stomach, it's all the hot stuff I eat. Burns right through anything.

4. Family. Lots and lots of family. I'll include shopping here.

5. Seeing different parts of Manila, both the rich and poor sides. Standing in awe of the gorgeous sunsets. The constant stream of noise. The friendly people, so helpful. The history of the Philippines shown in the local architecture and varied international foods.

6. Village life. Our family compound is in the Cavite province. Dirt roads, wild dogs and cats, half-dressed children playing in the streets. All kinds of vendors selling freshly baked pandesal, fresh veggies, fish and meats, tofu, rice, ice cream - all starting at 6am, ringing their bells and singing out about their wares. Where you can get McDonald's (McD's) delivered 24/7, Pizza Hut too. I didn't watch TV or listen to a radio. Used my computer when I was able to find a wireless signal to piggyback off of; mostly visited with my family and relaxed. Living simply is pretty fantastic.

7. Discovering that my Grandfather was asked to help the wives of some American officers escape the Japanese in Bataan. They travelled for three months through the jungles. After my Grandfather was successful in his mission, he had to continue hiding. He told my Aunt about seeing the dead bodies of soldiers from both sides, the hunger and desperation leading him to do things he couldn't speak of in detail, the things that happen in war - he survived it all. When he was able to make it past the Japanese snipers in our village and tried to enter the family compound, no one recognized him. Grandpa came back a changed man.

8. Seeing my family grow. One new baby was born while I was there, another will be born in May. Both are boys - we only have three girls in the next generation of our family.

9. Staying with my Sis in Hawaii. Da islands have changed since '76! Drove by my old catholic school, ate Leonard's malasadas, visited with my Sis and Nephew.

10. Oh, the bugs. YUCK. Roaches the size of a half dollar. Same with spiders. The mosquitoes used me as a buffet bar. Ants. YUCK YUCK YUCK. Beautiful tropics bring plentiful bugs. YUCK. I had a roach crawling on me in bed (not my preferred bedmate), killed it. Spider too. Killed it. The general rule is - don't invade my space and I won't kill you. YUCK.

There's more stories to be told but I'll stop now. I'm glad to be home. I've missed being here. Dorothy had it right, "there's no place like home."


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