It’s 3AM-ish now on Friday morning. I’ve been up for a while. We all crashed early last night. The older boys finally hit their end during the ride here and were in bed by 6. I’ll do my best to recap all that has happened as I type here in the dark with what sounds like a torrential downpour going on outside. The rain has stopped now and it looks like we have a rooster in the neighborhood. Nice. We have no internet yet so this post may be delayed by a few days. Here goes…
All went well with the baggage check in Pittsburgh. We had a quick meal with the family, said our goodbyes and got to our gate. Jamie’s aunt went with us as she was departing later that day to head home to Atlanta. The flight to Detroit was uneventful yet delayed so we were a bit anxious as we knew we had about an hour to get to our gate. More delays in Detroit worked to our advantage for a change so we were able to grab some food before the flight. We boarded and settled in; Jamie, myself and Lu in a side row and the older boys right in front of us. The flight to Nagoya was okay, I guess. Delta is not so great on their international flight accommodations. No special baggies with ear plugs, blinds and socks. No individual screens at the back of our seats, just one big screen per section playing for everyone. It felt like 1994 up in there. We landed in Nagoya to refuel. We got off, went through security and got back on the plane. By that point we were all feeling a bit crusty. More of the same into Manila. Some reading and resting, another meal and we were there. As we were preparing to get off the plane, the captain informed us that 200 pieces of baggage were left behind in Detroit. Something about the high temperature in Detroit, a shorter take off length and the planes lack of buoyancy. Lo and behold, my name was written in large letters as we got off the plane indicating that our eleven pieces of luggage were some of those left behind.
After passing through customs we gave a few glances in baggage claims and got in line to check on the whereabouts of our baggage. By now, it was 1AM. The kids were hanging out on the gigantic cart (more like climbing all over) as we gave a Delta attendant the address of the birthing center (across from our house). In hindsight it was a huge blessing that this happened. The hotel’s van, and the room that we stayed in would never have fit all of it. We hate our luggage.
We all crashed by 2-3AM only to wake a few hours later. We headed downstairs for our complimentary breakfast; garlic rice, a fried egg and corned beef. Filipinos love them some corned beef. Ad of the various brands can be seen all over. Who’d a thought that. We hit the streets for a bit to take in Manila before Vicki (head midwife of Mercy In Action) came to pick us up. Wow! The city was in full swing as we passed through the front doors of the hotel. Jeepneys and taxis beeping, vendors peddling their wares on the sidewalks and people everywhere. Seriously, everywhere. We walked up the street a bit, found a place to get a SIM card for Jamie’s phone, got the boys a few pieces of candy and headed back. On the way, I spotted my first street food vendor. He was boiling eggs in oil after dipping them in a bright orange batter. For twelve pesos apiece, I couldn’t resist. I bought two, threw in some sliced shallots and coarse salt and went to town. Pretty darn good.
Vicki picked us up and took us to a mall on the north end of the city so we could get some groceries, appliances and some home furnishings. We had some Kenny Rogers Roasters for lunch. It was strange. We’re not mall people back in the states. They actually freak me out a bit. But it was a great one stop shopping destination where we could use credit. We packed up all our stuff and headed to Subic. The drive was nice. The boys and Jamie crashed while I took in the scenery. After passing Manila Bay to the northwest of the city the countryside begins to open up. Rice paddies can be seen in the lowlands with huge verdant mountains in the distance. We arrived somewhere between five and six and got settled in. The midwives at the center cooked us dinner; a big pot of soup with chicken, greens and some sort of squash accompanied by…wait for it…rice. Super tasty. Lots of ginger, onions and garlic. My kinda food.
By seven the big boys crashed, leaving Lu, Jamie and I. As Lu played, Jamie and I sat on the couch and took it all in. Our place here is simple. Not so simple that we feel out of our element, just vastly different from the lives we have back in the States. Our conversation vacillated between themes of “We’re doing this!” to “What are we doing!?!”.
I slept for a few hours and began the day when revelers are just getting started: 12:30 AM. I finally got out of bed at 3:30 and saw the first of the Dellesky clan, Parker, stumble in somewhere between 4-5. The rooster got him too. Carson ambled in sometime later and then there were three. I made them a chocolately nutrition drink (think Filipino Ovaltine) and they noodled around on their iPods for a bit. Lu was up last. Ever the breakfast eater, I made haste to the kitchen and whipped him up some scrambled eggs and some leftover rice that I seasoned with some butter and vinegar. Jamie finally awoke looking somewhat refreshed and our day started. I’m at the end of said day as I type right now. Jetlag is in full force. A long day of activity coupled with what seems like a healthy dose of cultural overload is enough to make anyone feel a bit cross-eyed. I told Jamie today that she’d have the next post. She has finally retired for the day. It is now 8PM. The kids burned out at 6, eating noodles on the couch while watching a video on the laptop. Lu was face-down on the couch when I came inside after doing some laundry. It was a sign for all of us that the day was at an end.
Our next door neighbors, a lovely couple with two kids who live with their mother, manage the property where we live. Its every bit an Asian property as you’d ever see. Our backyard has numerous makeshift hen houses and dog kennels. Toss in a duck, a rooster, some discarded furniture, old appliances, building materials, clothes lines, a mango tree and you’re starting to get the picture. The rooster is a breed used for cock fighting. He’s a beautiful rooster; colorful and stout. Ernie, our neighbor is watching him for a friend. Most mornings I find this sad and lonely rooster shackled to a wire posted in the ground to keep him from wandering and mingling with the lady hens.
We’ve now been here almost 21 days…I know that because that’s when we have to renew our visas. This week Teddy and I started our work. He at the school with the kids and I at the birth clinic. I was able to witness the first of many births here. It was so gentle and quiet. I sensed I was standing on holy ground as the mamma birthed her baby all on her own and as I watched the Filipino midwives watch carefully for anything going abnormal, they had this active attentiveness I have rarely seen at births in the States. The more I am immersed in the clinic life and the model of care that Mercy in Action gives, the more I am filled with gratitude that I have been given the amazing opportunity to train here and not only train, but to be influenced by them in every way of my care for women and children. I’ve started assisting with prenatal and postpartum care. Tomorrow we will hike up the large, large mountain to where the people of the Aeta tribe live. We will be bringing the clinic to them as we will offer prenatal care to the pregnant mammas there. I am looking forward to it…. Especially because we have to cross a river that is flowing about as high as my thighs. Let the adventure begin!
The boys are seeming to be doing great. The really love school with the girls from the other families on staff here and our neighbors children have become play mates. They are learning tagolog from the interaction with the kids. Yesterday I heard Lukas and Earnest Jr. pretending to be jeepney drivers and asking each other for peso’s. Talk about learning the cultural norms. I also have been learning tagolog as I have been watching closely the Filipino midwives care for the women in the clinic. But, I still have far to go…. Good thing we will be here for a bit.
It’s been hard to not have internet for these first few weeks….we thought we would be able to be more connected with family and friends back home. But, it’s been interesting to see how not having total access to connections back home has actually served us well in the way that it has caused us to be fully present here. Fully immersing into the culture and with the people. We sort of approached our learning curve to figuring out life here in this way “jump in”. So we have. Teddy has been amazing at this aspect of things. Figuring out cooking, laundry (which takes a few hours for a couple of loads….and don’t get me started if it’s raining) , how to use public transportation, how to get to the market and grocery store etc…. I have never depended so much on his adaptations skills as I have moving here. Slowly, after the first week, my culture shock started to wear off and somewhere inside me, on a particular day, I just decided I needed to just jump off the cliff and start doing all these things myself. So I did. And, ya know what, it worked. I am now fully functioning in the realm of “doing life” here. Yeh! Lukas and I even rode into town, shopped at the market and ate dinner together there. (remind us to tell you about Ruby, her family and her amazing food!)
For now, I will say goodnight, as it is 9:30 (my pass out time) and it’s one of those nights where the boys are antsy and up and down from their bed. I will now give my full attention to sleep.
I will write again soon.