We're here, at last, after at least 30 hours in airports and airplanes. Our leg from Chicago to Tokyo took 13 hours--at one point, I got up to use the bathroom and thought my rear end had atrophied.
Somewhere over the Pacific, we crossed into tomorrow and ended up here. Our flight from Tokyo to Manila took about 4 hours, most of which Lizzie and I spent dozing. I don't know about Lizzie, but my eyes felt like scratchy marbles in my head (I couldn't get to sleep much on the long flight, don't know why. But Lizzie managed to use me as a pillow.)
As we wound away from the airport, into the dark, past speeding honking buses and men on motorbikes and men on bicycles (without lights), past jeepneys and little decorated buses crammed with people, I asked Norberto/Bobot, a small smiling man who reminds me of a very tanned Bob Boyer, if the city ever slows down. No, he suggested. And in the morning, the road we were on would be jammed with traffic, he said--as if it wasn't already pretty busy. Dogs and cats, lots of cats, wandered in and out of people, cafes, piles of bagged and unbagged trash.
Our apartment is small, clean and spare. We're in an "International" apartment building on the very large U.P. campus. Little busses decorated in fancy colors and names blat up and down the streets, picking up packs of people who hang out of the window slots and the back doors. This morning, a rooster woke me up and I shot awake, afraid it was Lizzie screaming.
We've got window airconditioners in our rooms, thank god, and fans in nearly every room. Lizzie says it's nearly "too hot." I like the heat, but can see how it will get old pretty quick. Little lizards run up and down the walls--and across the floors of our apartments. I'd get a little freaked out about the wild life if I didn't suspect that the lizards are our friends--they'll eat the mosquitos that make it past our screens.
We can use the internet downstairs in an open breezeway. As I quick sent Dave a message to let him know we'd gotten here, rain gathered and poured down in sheets, misting us where we sat. "I'm getting wet," Lizzie half wailed. She couldn't figure out how to get her laptop to connect to the wireless, and when she turned on her computer she got an error message about her clock being wrong--and she doesn't seem to have administrative privileges. The rain pushed a yellow cat out of the jungle and onto the patio, where it regarded us with hungry suspicion.
It's our shower that makes me immediately miss home. Two or three weak dribbles come out of the head, enough to slowly wet your hair and rinse the shampoo out. A glorified cat bath (what Mom used to call a washcloth-on-the-important-bits). There's a big bucket in the shower (which is just a curtained off corner of the room, really, as I suspected it might be, and a little drain in the floor, just like in Mexico... only less impressive).
Last night, I lay down on my hard bed with my thin pillows tucked under my head, and read a little more of Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love. Lizzie's wobbly lips kept rolling through my mind. "I miss our animals," she said. "And Dad."
So do I, darling, I thought. So do I.
Let the culture shock begin!