I visited a new friend at last after postponing it for a week. It was a long and winding drive to the small town of Sylvester, down South Georgia. We passed lush green cow pastures, cotton farms, peanut farms, corn farms and lots of animal farms. It has that very country feel to it on our way over there. When we got there, their house was actually situated within the farm, just off the road. The house couldn't be seen from the road, but their mailbox clearly indicated where the house was. We drove through the open gate and there it was. I didn't know what to expect since this was the very first time I meet them both. I have seen both on the video cam, so I recognized Jonathan as soon as we pulled the drive way. There was another older man whom he was talking to, which we later learned he was there to fix the air conditioner. He had it fixed just in preparation for my arrival. It was a bit warm when we got inside, but with the ceiling fan and abother big fan on the floor, you wouldn't notice that the air conditioner wasn't working. We started by introducing each other since my husband never met or talked to them. It was a bit awkward, Racquel is very new, she has just been in the country for nearly three months. And she speaks in the very Filipino manner, but with confidence which I admire. When I think back those days when I was new to the country, she did better than I did. I was a bit shy then and rarely talked. It made me uncomfortable that she would let her husband do this and do that, I guess out of confusion with our presence. She instructed her husband to start the grill, which he did. As the charcoals were getting hot, we drove through the gate and went inside the farm where they had about eleven cows and and eleven goats grazing the grass. Jonathan said that he sold about six cows this month, which is a good source of money while starting a new life with his new Filipina wife. While we drove through the grass and into the field, the cows and goats ran after the truck, expecting food to be delivered. It was my first time to tour a cow farm. Of course the property was well fenced so the animals can't wander off. They were provided water through a faucet and a big tin container. On the side of the open field were trees where they stay when the weather gets hot. At the back of the house is a pond. Maybe as wide as a track field. The weather was warmer over there as they as closer to the tropics, close to Florida.
After the tour, we went back inside the house to cool off, while Jonathan prepared the kabobs for grilling. We sat by the living room trying to familiarize ourselves to their place. Racquel brought my luggage and stuff to a room close to the living room. Which I presume one of Jonathan's kids stay when they visit because it was full of toys and posters of younger actors like Ashton and Orlando. The room was neat and well kept.
After having dinner with us, J decided he has to be on his way since he has to go to work that evening. We walked him to the car until he drove off. Racquel showed me around. We went into the house next door which I later learned it was Jonathan's mom's house which she left to him when she passed away. It was under renovation and they told me that they willmove to that house after it's renovation. We went around the house, there were some blue berry trees and a pear tree with fruits hanging all over it's branches. Some fell on the ground. On the ground were branches and leaves and dried woods and ashes evident of a recent burning. Jonathan said that they someyimes burn the dirt instead of bringing everything to th dumspter.
In between the two houses, was a pool. Clear and blue water was gleaming and sparkling as the sun rays reflected through the clear and bright blue water.
We went inside and chat and watched some TV shows. Later that evening, Racquel wanted to go to the grocery store so she could practice driving. She did very well during the driving, except she was confused when Jonathan told her to go to the left lane. She thought she has to turn left and she was adamant to turn left and slowed on the intersection when she saw the traffic light turned yellow. Of course, Jonathan was nervous trying to direct her with controlled anger. He then told her to park next to Bruster's where we got some ice cream and sat outside while chatting. I got peach flavor in a small cup, while Racquel got a big cone of mint chocolate swirl, Jonathan got Chocolate cake fudge ice cream. Later, we headed to Wal-Mart where I saw a bunch of Mexican guys. They were all over the store. I later learned that they are off on the weekends. Most of them work at the farms. A lot of them think me and Racquel were Mexicans too, they would stare at us. Probably when they hear us talk they realize we are not one of them. We headed back to their place. But on our way, it started raining. And as we drove passed the farms, the rain poured, we can barely see the road. It poured so hard, there were lightning and thunder. It was pouring hard when we reached the driveway. There were even hail dropping on top of the truck like pebbles drooping from the sky. Then there was a loud thud! Which we later found out it was a pine tree branch that fell on top of the truck. It was scary, as we stayed in the car. Jonathan went inside the house to check on the power. Alas! There wasn't any power. It was dark, they both looked for the flashlight. We sat at the living room in the dark. They kept a small falshlight lighted. Jonathan called the power company and found out that power will resume at 11:30. So, we stayed up chatting as the rain poured. Jonathan fell asleep while me and Racquel sat on the couch chatting about our past lives and everything under the sun. When 11:30 came, there was no power yet. So we decided to open the windows and try to go to bed. And that's just what we did. The windows had screen so we didn't have any problem with bugs coming inside our rooms. I tried to sleep, it was hard, it was muggy, and sticky and worst we didn't have water to shower with. I turned and rolled and slept a little bit until I heard some croaking sounds from outside the window which I presumed were frogs if not, maybe those white cow birds since it almost sounded like flamingos or ducks. Whatever they were had kept me awake. But of course I tried to get some sleep. When we woke up the next day, there wasn't power yet. My goodness, we didn't have water, we can't cook, we couldn't do anything. We then decided to go Waffle House. Without showering, we just got dressed. After we got dressed the power finally came on. We decided we just go ahead, and shower later.
After breakfast, we decide to go swimming. We stayed on the swimming pool until lunch time. We cooked adobo and I sauted string beans with fresh red hot chili peppers. Then we ate with gusto, as Jonathan didn't want lunch yet. We went back to the swimming pool after eating. We swam and chat until it was time to prepare dinner. When we got back into the house we played "Lord of the Rings" which lasted for hours and so we didn't have time to prepare dinner. We just had cup noodles. After the first, we watched the second part. It was an endless adventure. Later we found out that we went to bed about four in the morning. The clock in the kitchen was set to about two hours late, so we didn't realize it was already already in the wee morning hour. We got up about 12 high noon, and same thing happened we didn't realize the clock was wrong. We watched the third part of the "Lord of the Rings". When we were done watching, Jonathan said it was already four in the afternoon. We jumped quickly as we didn't realize how late it was. I planned on leaving that evening, so we decided to go swimming before I pack my stuff. We did go to the pool and then dragged ourselves out to pepper for dinner. She played the "Harry Potter II" while we eat. But I wasn't able to watch all of it. I had to pack my stuff. Too bad we didn't have DVD player. I could have borrowed the movies. Instead I borrowed some books from their shelves. I could have stayed for another day, but I miss J and miss home. I could go back another day. I gathered all my stuff and stuck them at the trunk of their car. We headed back to Macon passing through the long and winding road carpeted with cotton farms and animals . We arrived to Peach Outlet where J came and picked me up. It was a nice weekend get -away for me. It was a two days experience of life in the country side which almost reminded me of life in the province. Till next visit again.
Patience my dear
Music has a way of uplifting the spirit. I was up early as we were getting ready to to to the immigration office for some paper work. I was sitting down by the living room facing the glass window. I can see the sunlight beaming through the blinds. The radio was on, as I sat quietly on the couch sipping my coffee, I felt my spirit soar as I relaxed and listened to the music. The music was flowing in the air, it was loud, minimal loud. It got to my system masaging the tired muscles from waking on an unholy hour. It really felt good. J was of course upstairs getting ready. I just kept still and listened to the tranquility surrounding me. It is not an everyday incident. I let that moment pleasure me. I let myself drift away.
J's voice startled me. I didn't notice he already got downstairs and started putting his socks on while sitting on the couch.
I was relaxed by the time we got to the car and drove more than an hour to the INS office. As we pulled to the parking lot an Asian- looking guy greeted us and told J told straighten his car some more so as not to piss off the person next to us when they leave. So, we did just that. When we came out of the car, he immediately asked if I were a Filipina. I said; "why, yes!" then he told me he's Korean, so I greeted him "Anyung Haseyo" with a slight bow. He greeted me back. He looked at J smiling as he was moving his hands over his face trying to convey that J has a good-looking face. Then he goes on to say " Maybe I can have his signature" jokingly.......which I understood that he meant autograph. I smiled to him and said "Thank you". I was laughing as we left the parking lot heading to the huge INS building oblivious to the throng of people gathered at the entrance and lining up for the day.
We went through the metal detectors as we are already scatching our heads, because before our eyes is a long line of people waiting to be attended. J was like "Do we have to get in line here?" addressing it to the security guard. He said "I'm afraid you have to." We got into the line, not knowing that we just entered the gate to hell. We weren't the last people to join the crowd. More people came until the 11 o'clock bell ticked. They decided to send the late comers home. They were already on the line when one of the security guard asked the "captain" who was the last person. When the captain indicated it was the lady in pink, all the rest were told to come back the next day as they attend only to a certain amount of people per day. Of course they reluctantly moved with some roaring and then they were out of the door. We were so glad we came 30 minutes earlier, otherwise, we would havealso been sent away. One tall Japanese looking lady holding a fedex envelope insisted on talking to the captain but the captain sent her home like the rest.
The first hour was easy, we tried to do something, but mainly stood there watching people pass by. Watching the two people working over the counter. Sometimes, the wait seems forever before the next person in line was called. J would stay in the line and let me use the restroom and rest my feet. I would go in the other room and see what's going on and also use their chair. After 20-30 minutes, I would get in the line and let J rest his feet. I try to relax, but the wait was really gruelling. Other people on the line couldn't stand it and decided to leave after more than hours of waiting. The more patient people remained and it included us. I have noticed all kinds of nationalities. There were Middle Eastern people, Hispanic, Asian looking people. Indians with their pretty garbs and colorful forehead accessories. It's a melting pot of people in there. Some I couldn't tell where they are from. After about almost 50 trips to the restroom, and some whining and sighing, the line started to shorten about 1 o'clock. People were hungry and cranky and running out of patience. They security guards where having fun, exchanging stories and all. During my breaks, I ran into a Filipina woman by the restroom attending to her one year old boy. At first I wasn't sure, but when I asked whether she's Filipina, she said "oo." Then she started to tell me what they have been through since 8:30 in the morning. I, of course told my story in return. We chit chat as she cleans her boy's bottom by the sink with soap and water. "Pilipino talaga, ano?" she mused. As she explains that she doesn't use baby wipes. Which is perfectly fine with me. We returned to the waiting room where they had been waiting since 8:30 and she introduced me to her Pinoy husband. We chit chat for a little bit then, I told them I need to check on my husband. I got back on line and waited. As we are nearing the counter, I tried to start a conversation with the black woman behind me. She told me, she's from Ghana, West Africa. I heard so much about Ghana since I worked with someone from that area. I don't know how it started but she started saying that the food here tastes different. Finally I found someone who can confirm my observations since day one. Then we talked about how they use a lot of fertilizers on vegetables, therefore they grow really big. Then she said that someone who grew up here wouldn't know the difference. Then I turned to the girl infront of me and learned she's from Iran. But she sounded very American. She says she spent more time here in America than in Iran. I asked if she speaks Arabic and she said "No, Persian". I didn't know that. I asked her how do they say hello. " Saalam" comes her reply. I told her in Arabic, "saalam" means goodbye. Well, the wait felt better as I chat with them. We didn't notice the line moving and it seemed better becase we were able to sit and rest out already hurting feet until it was our turn. The girl from Ghana kept on whining " My patience is really running out" she said. I was trying to keep her calm by saying " We are almost there." When it was her turn, she learned she didn't even need to be there. She was just here because of a typo on her name and that all she needed to do is mail the requested document to an address indicated to the letter she was holding. She waved good bye to us as she was eager to get out of there. We were so glad to wait since it seemed we didn't have to go and wait to the other room. After the woman handed back my passport with the stamp on it, we just looked to each other with sighs of relief. We got back to the car and headed to lunch. We went to this Vietnamese restaurant close to the International Farmer's Market. I guess out of exhaustion and hunger I got a medium bowl of beef noodle which was too much for me. My eyes were bigger than my hungry tummy then. Nevertheless, I ate the entire dish, accompanied with crunchy bean sprouts. J got his grilled shrimp with vermicelli noodles. After lunch we marched to the market. We bought a big live tilapia. I also bought some of my favorite green leafy vegeatbles; water crese, gai lan, and baby bok choi. I also got Atulfo mangoes, and two pieces of lemon grass.
We headed home after. And J was already exhausted and he still had to drive home for more than an hour. When we got home, he just collapsed on the couch. " That was some ordeal!" he exclaimed. "Atleast we had your paper work done.We won't be back, not for another year anyway"
That was the longest three hours and a half of my life. You stand on that line like we did and you will learn real patience.
A Place within the Universe
"I believe this earth on which we stand is but the vestibule to glorious mansions through which a moving crowd forever press
." ~Joanna Baillie~
When I was young and inocent, I would stare at the pitch black darkness illuminated by the father moon above the heavens. The stars scattered all over, twinkling, blushing as I wondered what was out there.
I can still remember the cool scent and wet feel of the grass sweating with dew in the middle of the night. Darkness blanketted everywhere, but the shining moon illuminated a secret panorama that shaped the mountains, the valleys and the lush green that carpetted the earth. The breeze has a cool feel, almost soothing to the touch. Feels refreshing as I inhale and also soothes as it caresses my longing soul.
I would sit comfortably in our wooden wagon, normally pulled by water buffalos at daytime and stare at the infinite sky. I would let my soul soar up and roam and immerse into the beauty of the surrounding. Letting my spirit become one with the universe.The world seemed so round then. I was in my beautiful small world, inocent. I would look at the shadows beyond and wonder what's out there. What could be out there beyond those mountains, what's out there on the other side.
Then I look up to the skys and dream too. Dreams of a young inocent girl. Dreams of exploring far away lands, to see the other side of those mountains, to look if the bright moonshine reaches other parts of the world.
I would also close my eyes and feel the cool breeze brushing and blowing my long hair. I try to submerge myself to the beauty of the stillness of the night.
Some nights I would look for the brightest star as I heard from somebody telling me to look for the brightest star and make my wish. And that's what I also did.
But looking up some more, there's the infiniteness of the sky. I always wondered in awe whenever I looked up to the sky at night when every soul are in deep slumber and I can only hear the humming of crickets, the croaking of frogs and blinking firflies that would make you think the stars have fallen on the ground . The far distance of anything even the stars and moon would often allow my mind to roam and drift wherever it wants to go. Flow with the wind, blowing to the far distance. Reaching to those special places trying to find out what's there to know, what's there to see.
Sometimes, I would share this sanctuary to some of my sisters. We would sometimes lay flat on the grass looking directly to the vast sky and tell our unending stories, our secrets and our dreams to each other. Nothing really can bond us together than sharing the deepest part of ourselves inspired by the magnificent view of the stars. At other times, we would savor the stillness and just watch the shadows of the trees, the far distance of the wide wide open field carpetted with coggon grass swaying and dancing with the beat of the winds. The panoramic view is such an awesome sight as we lay still and dream away.
(This has been inspired by my childhood memories spent in the farmlands of Isabela, one of the provinces in the Philippine Islands
. Also a part of the movie "Nemesis" has inspired my childhood recollection.)
Keep on Going
While admiring the buds and it's foliage , robust and healthy, I also noticed time moving by, changing and passing by right before my eyes. There's this feeling at the pit of my stomach that accompanied such observation. Almost nostalgic. Probably because I see time moving right before my eyes passing me by. There's the hope we all have that we should be able to cope with time, I guess and that's how I feel right now. Don't get me wrong, I have come so far, from where I started, but when I stand still and see how things are, somehow I have this feeling that I could have done more, or that I should do more. But one can do so much at a time. I have gone farther from where I was before and I can almost see the foot prints of my path. But there's still so much to learn, so much more to do and I guess I have the feeling that time is running out. Of course time can tread for all eternity. I don't know why I feel this way. But when I stand still and reflect about things, I seem to suddenly get awaken from a deep slumber. Like I am on a mission and I am on a time pressure. I don't know, it might just be me. Gosh! i guess I am just getting older and that I think I have to do things before I reach that big O's.
Of course the buds will continue growing into branches extending themselves to all direction and I guess I wish I will be able to do just that. To explore a lot of things and just keep going.
There are traditional and tribal dances all over the Philippines. Do you have your own? Sometimes it's a regional thing, this performance was held at an Igorot Convention held in Misouri. It's one of the Cordilleran performance. Cordillera is composed of the provinces of Ifugao, Benguet, Abra, Kalinga, Apayao, Bontoc. And each of these provinces have their own very unique tribal dances. Each of them have a certain dance during weddings, during harvest, during burial, engagements. And they also have their own distinguished practices and rites performed during these ocassions.
I was lucky to grow up and actually experience and witness some of these traditional dances and songs in school and in my home town growing up as they perform them during town fiesta and school events. I am sure that there are a lot more of these traditional dances and rites performed in some other areas of the Philippines like the Southern part of the Philippines. If I have the chance I would like to visit the Southern part, the Visayas and Mindanao area.
It has been a while, they started to grow in fall. Then days passed by. I would go out almost everyday to tend to them. Water them and replant and weed and just stare at them. Days passed and then the small buds just grew into mighty tomato bushes. Then small green buds of flowers sprung then little green fruits came out. Then they transformed into blushing red tomatoes. It has been a process of growing and bearing fruits. When the fruits got ripe simultaneously, i didn't know what to do with them. I used some of them for cooking.We also tried Fried Green Tomatoes. We blanched some one evening and mashed them to make spaghetti sauce. They have been marvelous and delectable.