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14 - To Manila

Journey 13


Up early - we go for a swim at the place where we bought the fish. The sea is glorious - clear - fish swimming around us - and incredibly warm - the sun still below the crests of the coconut palms.

We cuddle, swim, lots of kissing in the water - we discuss ideas for starting up a business - right here in Pintuyan - it is so beautiful and Mayen would be close to her family - and this beloved place she misses so much, having to work in Manila.

We return to the house - very happy people indeed.

I shower and we pack our bags. Ado arrives from Tacloban after a really early start and we are driven with "mum" in the front passenger seat, in the air-con comfort of the cab to the barrio, where we start the farewell process - Mayen's uncle, her grandmother, the newly arrived sister - we are ushered into the chapel by Mayen's mother where we light candles - she told me to say a prayer to ask that I be allowed to return here. What else could have been in my heart at that moment?

I waited in the shade of a tree for a while, where the cab was parked and chatted and smoked with Ado - we talk about cars, crocodiles - he practiced his English & I roll him one of my liquorice paper cigarettes.

The family adults all gather for a meal -

Mayen has already started discussing our ideas for a business - one of our ideas that we talked about during our swim was to open an air-conditioned supermarket. My initial concern was that we should not be responsible for putting out of business any of the small shops already there - many of which already seemed to be stocking the same sort of goods.

Later on Mayen tells me that she has been discussing business ideas with her father - he suggested to her that one of the better business opportunities in that area is in coconut farming - for the copra business, perhaps I could buy some land for him to administer?
This conversation took place without me being present.

The idea was to purchase a few lots of land, very cheap in this area, they are already populated by mature trees - little upkeep - nature renews the stock every four or five months - little in the way of labour costs for harvesting. Mayen told me that when landowners get into financial difficulties, a loan of money to them - nowhere near the worth of the land - against the title to the property, in default of repayment of the loan within a specified period of time - can mean that sometimes land can be aquired very cheaply indeed.
I must admit - it sounded extremely risky.

I sent some astrology readings to Mayen after our first night of contact - they suggested quite strongly that we would make good business partners - and I see that quite clearly now - Mayen does seem to have a very astute mind for business.

Outside again - I am introduced to a cheerful lady - Lisa - she played the guitar in the chapel yesterday - I shake her hand and tell her how much I enjoyed her playing. We all had a great laugh when I asked if she also did heavy metal or grunge.

After quite an emotional farewell to most of the adults - particularly Mayen's parents - I officially state my intentions to Mayen's father and thank her mother for the welcoming hospitality.

We set off in the taxi - I hear a voice from the front of the cab - I think at first that it is Ado talking in a very strange way but soon realise that it is Mayen's slightly built sister-in-law sitting, completely concealed in front of me. She's getting a lift as far as San Fransisco [I think] - travelling along the road built by the company she presently works for - a Thai-Italian construction consortium. She wants to collect her final wage packet - the road is almost completed and she must find another work contract somewhere.

After dropping her off, the discussion turns seriously to talk of business again - in particular the copra trade - I mention the cost of living back in the UK to try to put any capital that I get from the sale of the house in perspective - it wouldn't go very far there at all -whereas, over here, it could possibly set us up with home and business - with some to spare.

Mayen sleeps across my lap - eventually Ado pulls over - we are a few kilometers from Tacloban - under the shade of a large tree alongside the ocean - the island of Samar on the horizon.
My feet are dreadful - I cover them with two giant leaves that have fallen off the tree, to stop Mayen from staring at them, but soon kick them off as I see an infestation of termites about to transfer from leaf to leg.
After a smoke - no more photos - I'm out of film - we drive on for a short while, stopping for lunch at Adoko's - a local "fast" food chain - for chow mein, rice and a roast chicken that takes an age to arrive. We notice the staff furiously fanning the charcoal embers in an effort to bring the chicken up to the regulation temperature. There are lots of flies around.
Then the last leg to the airport - we check in and Ado then drives us to a nearby store to purchase Pasalubong [coming home presents] of local delicacies for Alberto, Marivien and Miss Ann.
We taste them as we wait - Mayen getting rather tearful - in the airport lounge.
[Looking back, I remember again thinking, she's pretending. Mayen had buried her face in the bag on my lap and made crying movements with her shoulders. I don't actually remember seeing any moist eyes.]

Mayen has trouble with her ears as we descend into Manila - but soon we are back in the hustle and bustle - stuck in the traffic as we are driven back to the Grami Hotel.
We check in and are greeted as old friends by the respectful staff - a little glad to be back in civilisation, air-con and proper showers - although the peace and joy of the barrio makes almost any hardship bearable - and it felt so good to be woken up from my western laziness.
We are both a little confused in our mood - trying to be joyful, but the closeness of our farewell is so painfully obvious - we don't know how we are going to handle it after 10 days of being virtually inseparable.

Collecting our belongings from Mayen's room - we collect the laundry that we deposited before the trip to the province.
I think they do a good job - it's all neatly pressed and folded - nice and fresh - apart from a few accidental blemishes that appear on some of Mayen's clothes to her annoyance - and the fact that one of her previously white blouses had been turned a light grey.
I don't know quite how she is feeling - so brave - courageously facing her life - away from her family again - and about to be faced with me flying off into the sunset as well. She has good friends at work thank goodness.

Our last evening together.
We go for a meal - very good - splendid menu - the waiter and one of the customers have incredibly infectious laughs - it amuses me. Mayen gets a call from her brother - a seaman - in Manila on his way to the province - I want him to come and meet Mayen - I say hi on the phone - no good - his flight is at 4.00 am - and it's a dreadful journey from where he is - with Adelaide in Quezon City, to where we are.

Back to the hotel - we separate our bits and pieces - it's very hard - we've been living like man and wife for the last 9 days - so close - well maybe not like man and wife - more like new lovers. I want to keep Mayen's handkerchief - something with her smell on it - and her tears from Tacloban airport - I don't - Mayen doesn't like the idea. Gifts of handkerchieves are taboo - because of the association with sadness & funerals.
We shower and bed - tenderness - no making babies - we save that for the morning.

I shall run,
I shall fly now,
Until I have no more breath,
And beyond,
Until I find the long swaying grass,
The green, lush, safe place,
And nestle there,
In that comfortable hollow
That we made,
Me and my love,
The paradise we found together
In those early days
Before . . .
I shan't look up . . .
Listen to the babbling stream,
The air, singing sweet with birds,
The warmth of the breeze,
The whispering of the grasses,
The long drawn out sighing of the ocean,
This is where I belong,
There is no other.
I shall sleep,
I shall hold on to your hand,
We will live, waiting in each other's dream,
Till the day comes
For us to open our eyes
And see,
Open our hearts
And know.

Click the flags to read about all the alarm bells.


Tim Cumperhttp://www.bebo.com/Ellumbra

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