Picking up where I left off…We were shown our room at Nora’s house and it was fine. What wasn’t fine was outside. The neighbors had a big party going and the racket was horrific. Loud music, kids screaming, dogs barking, and plenty of firecrackers. A couple of minutes in the bedroom, I realized that earplugs were going to be a must if I was going to sleep. Even our hosts mentioned they doubted they could get much sleep in there, either.
You see, Christmas eve is one of the biggest parties of the year. The ladies cook all day. Catholic Mass at midnight. Then, a huge dinner. I was exhausted from the trip and I had no plans to attend any festivities. With only 2 hours of sleep the night before, I was nearly a zombie. Fortunately, someone was going shopping and they could buy me earplugs. Yup, I’d forgotten mine. They were on the list, dang it.
Praxy’s sister Fanny came by about dinner with an American treat, fried chicken, and it was specifically for me. Perfectly prepared, I savored every bite. I didn’t share at all, I think it was a Christmas gift. The earplugs showed up and I was off to bed. It was 11 hours before I finally felt human again. Praxy joined in the festivities, she got some sleep on the bus.
Up at 7 the next morning and a tasty breakfast from the previous night’s leftovers. Pork adobo, buco salad, flan, and other goodies from the night before. Then off to visit the other household, Fanny’s house. It was packed with people, they had 22 staying there, children, grand children. This is most of them
We chatted and ate a little more. Then made plans for the day. Downstairs, the husbands were working on a bottle of brandy and invited me to join. 9am was too early, but I told them that I would join in later. After all, it is my duty to help the local Filipinos put a dent in the region’s brandy supply. They laughed at that, but held me to my words later on.
The sisters decided to go to the local cemetery and visit their parent’s grave. So they hired a car and we went to look around. It was very nice, lots of green grass and gently rolling hills. I never got to meet their parents, my entry into the family was way too late. They both lived into their late 80’s and both were born before my parents by a few years.
We got back and the guys were on me. Paraphrasing, “Join us for some holiday cheer”! It was a big bottle, we settled down to chat. Next thing I know, the karaoke machine is out. I mentioned I sang some in the states and they insisted I join in on that as well. So we sang the afternoon away and drank brandy. We scoured the videoke machine and I tried a bunch of new songs. Some went well, some not. Two came up that I’ve added to my repertoire, “Vincent” by Don MacLean and “When I Die” by Blood, Sweat, and Tears. Both are very challenging because of the numerous tempo changes, both are songs I love, and both are exactly in my voice’s range. Fun! I’ll practice them up when I get home.
Back to Nora’s house, I was a little tipsy. So I sat on the couch. Karen and Lex were busy keeping little Lyxn awake. Her schedule was turned around, she likes to sleep during the day and party all night. So I had suggested something that Leah and I had to do with Devin. Devin was doing the exact same thing so…we kept her awake all day (with a few 20 minute naps) at the age of three weeks. Two days later, PRESTO, baby sleeps at night. So I helped run interference, seated of course.
Not entirely successful, am I? Babies will sleep if they are tired enough.
Next morning was move day. We had plans, Praxy’s reunion at the Mall of Asia, then a motel somewhere near the airport. We had a flight to Tacloban and we didn’t want to be too far from the airport and get stuck in traffic. So next morning we caught a two hour ride from Cavite to the mall. After some confusion, we found her friends. The Mall of Asia is huge, the biggest I have ever seen. And of course the people we were meeting up with were on the other side. After a bit we got together and walked about 1 mile to a restaurant.
I looked the prices over and wondered how everyone was going to be able to afford eating here, at 788 php each, it was expensive for a family. After a while, everyone else came to that conclusion and we walked to a smaller place in the mall and had a nice meal.
A mixture of Philippine, Japanese, and Thai cuisines. And warm beer. Sigh. The classmates chatted for a couple of hours, I walked around and took in the sites. Not much to report, you’ve seen one mall you’ve pretty much seen them all. Finally time to leave and take on the traffic to a motel.
Another Sogo on the EDSA road. By now I’d learned to spend a little extra and get a better room. We got an “executive” for $5 usd more and it was worth it. Very clean and comfortable. The traffic was horrendous as usual, it took about 20 minutes to go 1/2 mile. It was noisy and crowded, so we took in room service and went to bed.
Next…off to Tacloban 12/30/11 9:15am