My journey and adventure to the Philippines Islands has come to an end. It is time for me to say goodbye to my new friends, and family, and head back to the city of Detroit. Motown. The “D”. The “Motor City”. Well, not the city itself, but very close to it. Michigan. It has it’s good points, but at this point in my travel, I would much rather stay in the Philippines.
This is the last article regarding my initial visit to the Philippines to meet my girlfriend, who became my fiancée while I was there. We’ve had a lot of good times, and spent a lot of time getting to know each other, and as much as possible, for me to know her family. But, the time for me to go home to my work, and my family in the states has come.
I gather my clothes, and pack them away into my luggage, and carry-on. It is a somber day for us. Joan and I would both rather stay together, but we know that for us to be together as husband and wife in the U.S., this day is inevitable. A meal is prepared and packed into the van, which arrives late at night in preparation for our long drive to the airport in Manila. The drive to the airport seems to go too fast, and before I know it, I am sitting in the airport parking lot, eating my last meal with my fiancée before we head out. We have arrived early, and we have a lot of time, it seems, to spend together before I have to head into the airport to leave. The family gathers on the concrete benches in the parking lot, and eat our meal. The mood is both happy and sad at the same time. We are all happy to be able to spend this time together, but knowing that it will end soon. I sit with a heavy heart, and consider the possibility of simply staying there. Thinking it through and decide that sitting here, with my fiancée whom I have fallen in love with completely, is a hard thing to do. Saying goodbye to someone you love so much is difficult to do when it is only for a short time, but knowing that the process for her to come to the U.S. will not only take six months, it is not guaranteed. Postponing my departure from them is tearing me apart, and I do not want the last thought of me to be of a sad and crying man. So, I tell them all goodbye, and tell them I need to go inside the airport. They are all in disbelief that I am heading in so early, but I make the gesture that I don’t want to be delayed in security. I hug and kiss my fiancée for what will be about six months, gather my things, and head inside.
Check in was completed in about two minutes, and I convert what money I had kept back into U.S currency. $40. Wow. It seemed like so much more in PHP. I shrug it off, and move along to my gate, only to be stopped at a check point and taxed to leave the country!! Wait a second, I don’t even WANT to leave, but now you’re taxing me for leaving? Good thing I had $40 still. I paid what I think was $15usd, and move along. Waiting at the gate for my plane was excruciatingly painful. I didn’t want to leave. Why don’t I just walk back out there and call her and tell her to come pick me up?! My heart is breaking, it seems, already. I board the plane and find my usual seat, all the way in the back. At least the familiarization of the plane seat relaxes me somewhat. After a short taxi out to the runway, we lift off. This is when the full-on loneliness sets in, and the wishful desires of jumping from the door behind me comes to mind. But, I know that this short stay away from each other is required.
After a layover in Japan, and a twelve hour flight to Detroit, we land safely. The trip back seemed faster than going there. I think my desires to arrive in the Philippines made the trip seem slower. Kind of like, the watched pot never boils. I gather my luggage and head to the Immigration and Customs station, I proceed to give them my passport, and that I am returning as an American. They ask if I have declared anything(they know I have). They then ask if I have any fruit. I tell them, dried banana chips. Well, dummy me… that gives me another one hour wait in a line to check for other contraband. I wait in line patiently. The man in front of me has MANY things taken from him. Apparently, not allowed in the country. It’s my turn, and I tell the man the same thing I told the other. Banana chips. Nothing else. They seem happy with that, and I’m free to go.
Unlike the Philippines, nobody is here to greet me. To welcome me back. That was, my choice though. It is simpler to just grab a cab and have them drive me to where my vehicle is parked. Mom’s house is, after all, only a 15 minute ride from the airport. I returned to Detroit on May 30th at about 1 pm local time. It’s the beginning of our hot season, so it should be warm. I step out of the airport to the waiting cabs, and am shocked at how cold it is!! I’m FREEZING!!!! According the news agencies reporting the weather, it’s 73 degrees Fahrenheit, which is almost 23 Celsius. By Philippines standards, this is cold, but from where I am from, and have grown up my entire life, it is a nice day and I should not be complaining. However, since I have just returned from a place where the average temp was about 100 degrees Fahrenheit, it is like walking into a refrigerator! I ask the driver to please put the windows up, as he has them all down. He kindly tells me it is a beautiful day and I should enjoy it. I explain to him that I have just returned from a tropical island, and this is about a 30-40 degree temperature change for me, and I am freezing. The driver, kindly obliges this fat guys odd request, and puts all of the windows up for me. We arrive at my location, and the driver is paid by credit card, as I only have $25 cash. Only my Mother is at her home to greet me. This is where my cell phone, Jeep, and keys are waiting for me. Gifts from the far side of the world are removed from my bags and left for everyone to get at their leisure. Stories of my adventure are told for over two hours, and my mom can tell that I am a happier man than when I left. All expectations of my trip were met and exceeded, and while it is good to be home, I am a lot lonelier now. The paperwork to apply for fiancée visa was sent in almost immediately upon my return home. I forgot to get some needed paperwork while I was there, so we had to express mail them to me so the process could begin.
Until next time, salamat, ingat, and God bless!