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5 - In her hands

Journey 4


I wake, shower and go down stairs for breakfast. Mayen appears shortly afterwards - this is strange - we didn't talk much last night in all the excitement.
I am completely in her hands at the moment - not knowing a thing about this new land - but we are happy people - about to have our first whole day together.

We spend most of today tasting a variety of transportation - taxi cabs, metered/unmetered, with or without air-con, jeepneys, motorised tricycles - in an effort to find somewhere to change my traveller's cheques. Ended up going to Makati - trusty, fiesty Mayen by my side, holding the money for the cabs - negotiating good deals - getting more and more exasperated at her fellow countrymen - treating "foreigner" here like the Golden Goose - the penultimate taxi driver typifying the bad deal - unmetered, no air-con, challenging us for a healthy tip even before we start - he took a "short cut" through shanty town, the squatters in the fishermens village - crowded, narrow, rust coloured streets - we made sure the doors were locked - the cab showing more and more signs of something terminally wrong with it - eventually giving up completely in a gas station - the driver pouring buckets of water over the engine to cool it down - hood up - we were told to find another cab. I don't think we gave him his healthy tip.

[Here again, my detractors have really tried to make a meal out of me using "Golden Goose" - an innocent enough phrase - surely preferable to the phrase I hear later in this adventure "Fat White Monkey."
Unfortunately, it is an inescapable reality - it is not a posture one has to assume - it is presumed by many who see "foreigner" - that here is an opportunity to "up" the going rate. It is an undeniable truth - proving anyone who cares to argue this point has either never been to the Philippines - or that they are a liar - trying to conceal the truth behind their words.]

During the day I broke a tooth on some hard pork we had for lunch [I had heard that the Filipinos loved their food - what an understatement!] We shopped for a SIM card for my cellphone to lessen the expense of texting. Sat outside in the new and enormous Mall of Asia, on the Baywalk - drinking coffee.

We go to Mayen's room in the early evening - she takes a shower - a simple room, rented for her by the firm she works for, and shared with her work colleagues occasionally - a bed, a water cooler, electric fan, rice cooker, basic kitchen utensils, clothes neatly folded in a large suitcase type bag, a bed for guests folded alongside the dining table and chairs. This is a small, hot room. I go outside for a cigarette while Mayen showers - waiting on the stairs as I prepare my roll up - the door of the room at the bottom of the stairs opens - out steps a girl dressed in just a slip carrying some freshly washed item of clothing to hang on the drying rails - seeing me lurking there on the stairwell, she apologises and - embarrassed, disappears straight back inside her room. I go out beyond the gate for a smoke. A grubby and almost skinny white cat of Siamese variety lounges on top of the perimeter wall - the security guard lounges on a plastic chair just inside the entrance to this little compound.
We then go to Mayen's "homebase" as she calls it - the sales office and greet her friends and colleagues.

Our first full day together - hand in hand - as close as two bodies can be - growing, expanding in our love and trust for each other. We all went for a meal together at East 19 [I think it was called] overlooking Victoriana housing project, with lightning flashing all around on the horizon - but a fresh breeze blowing.

My cellphone doesn't like the heat. I love Mayen so completely, so deeply - I am changing.

Unto the four winds did I shout your name,
And kept alight that sacred flame
Before the altars of Sun and Moon,
Underneath a vault of stars,
I offered prayer, that Oh, so soon,
Our eyes could share and know the same.
So simple, yet, now plain to see,
I know no more, no less of thee
Than I imagine, stars of me,
Who dwell a hundred lifetimes hence,
Who's light and sight I only sense
From long ago, when present tense.
Accuse me of idolatry,
Of worshipping a beam,
My faith, alone for company,
To temper, so would seem,
The steel of my temerity,
The colour of my dream,
All is unknowing, no consolation,
Save for the glowing
Of a new constellation.
After this first full day together, I get a bad case of the blues - having to say goodnight - I give Mayen the perfume that I bought her. After she had left me, I sent her a text saying that I wished I was her teddy bear - I spotted it earlier on her bed in her room.
Flick through the channels on the TV. I am growing to detest the world as it is portrayed in the media - so unreal. I doze off in bed for a few hours - but I am disturbed by a dream - cannot sleep any more - so I dress and go outside the hotel for a cigarette.
I rolled one for the security guard - he'd never tried a roll up with liquorice paper - he enjoyed it. I was surprised at the activity on the highway - colourful jeepneys, plying their trade.

Crammed with, amongst others, many immaculately uniformed schoolchildren, dilligently, serenely and with great humility - boarding to get to school on time. Now this was 4.30 in the morning! Schools open at 6.30 - yes there are different "shifts" so to speak - but go on until 4.00pm. That's a ten hour day.
I sometimes feel ashamed at the respect, near to reverence that I am shown by these sweet people, so beautiful [but I am reminded later - in fact Sir Francis uses these very words - that there are many "snakes" as well.] Me, lurking, trapped behind the disguise of money - courtesy of the exchange rate and appalling standard of living here. The illusion of wealth is all fake - I don't do anything consciously - it is assumed for me by those who see "foreigner."

I awoke this morning from a vivid dream. A black man, doing some menial labour had developed a deformed foot from the constant repetition of his task with the appliance provided for him - he pleaded with his boss for a moments rest. The boss, unseen, just a voice - but distinctly an unsavoury type of person replied "That's one less bone for you then!"
In my dream I was moved to such depths of pity for the man's suffering, I reached into my soul and found healing powers, felt God running through my fingertips as I massaged the man's foot back into shape - to the amazement of us both.

[At this point in writing, everything welled up inside of me, all the relief, the love, the emotions of this dream - I could not continue writing and broke down into a great sobbing in my hotel room.]

Click the flags to read about all the alarm bells.


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

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