Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Horrors of Traveling

I was on my way to Vancouver early in the morning of May 13.  My plane was due to leave at 8:30 am and due to my practice of being at the airport two hours before the flight, my host, Milton, husband of long time friend Ophel, had to wake up around 4 so that he could take me to the San Francisco airport.  Now that is a long drive from San Jose where we were.

It was a good thing that I was there at an early time as the queue to the check in counter, which was practically without any staff except for three people, was quite long already.  It turns out that the United Airlines, which I was riding, relies heavily on the electronic check in system and the guys working there are there only to assist passengers.  So, I waited a long time and when it was my turn (actually my first to do that) to check in, I had no problems inputting data.  However, scanning my passport was not an easy task.  It would not fit the scanner because the jacket was larger than the allowed page.  A middle aged African American woman who worked there came to help me and realized too that the passport won't fit.  She thought of getting the passport out of the jacket but in doing so, the entire booklet separated from the jacket! The whole thing tore apart from the cover.  Of course I was dismayed but since that was the first time it happened and it was not me who did it, I never thought of the repercussions of the same.  By this time, the woman was able to scan my passport and advised me to check in my luggage for which I have to pay $25.  I went to the only counter that was collecting the luggages  and showed her my passport.
Immediately, she noticed that the passport was torn and said, "Hey, you cannot travel with a damaged passport!"  Now the repercussion has set in.  It was then that I began to be concerned.  "What can I do?  It fell apart when the lady handled it."  And the woman, in fairness to her, acknowledged the mishap.  But the lady would have none of it and tried to declare something like it was due to the fact that the passport was weak.

"What can I do?" I asked again.  She thought for a bit and then told me to glue it and maybe that would work.  Where in heaven's name does one find a glue at an airport at a little way past 6 am? Frantically, I went to a coffee shop and asked if they happen to have glue.  None!  Who would have a need for glue at a coffee shop, anyway?  I walked and saw two Filipinas who I presume were working at the airport, talking with each other while going out of the toilet.  I approached them and asked if they have what I need.  None!

Then I noticed a young African American man, probably around 20 years old, working at a store which was already opened.  I asked him if he could help me and after explaining the situation to him, he promised to look for some glue after he has finished with his chore at the time.  So, I waited and while waiting tried to look at the items for sale.  And guess what I found.  A super glue!  My eyes widened as hope sprang from the heavens.  "Here, I found some glue! How much is it? I'll pay for it."  I took it from where it was displayed and showed it to him.  Then I pleaded if he could be the one to glue it as I am so much tensed I might ruin it.  He would have none of it perhaps thinking I will have to blame him if something went awry again.

I put some glue on the cover and tried to put them together but they won't attach.  "Hey, it says here super glue,m why wouldn't they join?" I asked the man.  "Well, maybe it's no good for paper," he answered.  Now I am beginning to panic.  Tried it several times more and it wouldn't stick.  Finally, I tried to put a larger quantity, put them together and held them for quite some time.  It worked.

I went back to the check in counter and showed her my passport and she checked in my luggage.  So far so good.  I lined up for the immigration officer, divested of all the contents of my pants and shoes and went through the x-ray machine.  "You still have your belts on!" cried the lady guard.  "Oh, I'm sorry ma'am," and took off my belt.

My passport was looked at by airport personnel three or four times and there was no problem.  I also got through the immigration in Vancouver in a breeze.  Now the tables are turning to my favor at last, I thought.

The following day, I went to the Philippine consulate to inquire about my passport.  Don Wallis, husband of Trudy, took me to West  Pender St. where the consulate is located.  There I was told that I will have to have my passport replaced but I have to wait several days.  Or, they could give me some sort of document for passage but it will only be if I will leave from Vancouver to the Philippines.  I still have a lot of things to do in Kaslo and besides, I already have a ticket flying back to the Philippines through LA.  "Couldn't the consul just give me a document verifying that this passport is authentic?" I asked.  "It will also be a matter of days before that can be done," he said.

So, here I am now in Kaslo, after a long journey to Nelson via a Greyhound bus, not knowing what would happen to me when I enter Spokane, Washington to fly back to LA on the 23rd.  Hmmm, if they don't want to accept me, let them deport me instead.  What can I do?  It was an accident!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Blogging Friends, True Friends

 My best online buddies, Jay and Jet!

 A piece of American Art
 The handsome guy who picked me up from home, Tito Rhomes!

Elegant dinner at Las Brisas fronting Laguna Beach where one could see the sunset while enjoying a good repast

Three awesome guys who know how to make one feel welcome and loved.

Monday, May 07, 2012

LA in pictures 1

 Chapman University where my niece, Khriss, teaches Math. 
 John and poet Gloria Laven who I met the first time after thirteen years of correspondence.

 Danny Dionisio, our neighbor, with whom I played tennis in the Philippines when the family still lived there.

The youngest in the Reyes family is now in college!  Time flies so quickly and it's gaining on me. 

 Definitely not Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer.  Only better!
 Host Annabelle and new acquaintances, husband and wife, Louie and Rina

 Camille Reyes, the last time I saw her, she was just a Freshman student
 Golden Voice Rikki and the ever hungry Papa Buoy
Papa Buoy Gammad. Up to this date, I wouldn't know why he'd spell his name that way.
Khriss helping me unpack on arrival at Cedar Avenue, which was to be home for the next 6 days

Friday, May 04, 2012

The City of Angels

Today is the third day of my stay here in LA and I continue to enjoy the good weather and the company of good people. I arrived here on May 2 and was surprised to know that my friend, Suzette, was to be on the same flight with me to my first stop, which was Narita Airport in Japan. That made the long queue at the airport a little manageable because we got to talk with each other once our points met at the long line that snaked its way to the Delta Airlines counter. What pisses me off at the airport, aside from the very long queue at the check in counter and the freaking travel tax (imagine having to line-up just so you can pay the government, sheesh) counter, was the fact that you have to divest of everything, belt, shoes and all, at the xray machine. And I had to do that twice, once before meeting the immigration officer, and then, before I could get inside the gate! And to think, I will be in another long queue in Japan and do all these once again! Anyway, upon arrival at the LAX airport, I had to wait in line again, this time for another hour, just so my papers could be cleared. Then, once I have gotten my luggages, had to wait for Bong, a close family friend, who was kind enough to pick me up from the airport as the designated picker upper, Khriss, was working till 1. After 30 minutes of waiting at the airport, Bong finally arrives, took me to their house to freshen up and wait for Khriss and from there, had lunch at a place called Hometown Buffet at Orange County. From there, Khriss took me to my final destination at the San Pablo residence where I am to stay while here in LA. We had a lovely dinner at a Japanese restaurant called Kabuki! We were joined there by Bert Ancheta and his wife. The following day, I went to Chapman University with Khriss to observe the university and observe her classes. Khriss was phenomenal in class and the students were listening intently to her lecture. From there, my online friends of thirteen years, fellow poet, Gloria and her husband John, picked me up to show me around. We had a blast upon finally meeting personally. They took me to Hollywood, had lunch at the Hardrock Cafe, viewed the "stars" and their Sid's pavement signatures and got ripped off by Yoda and Superman (I think he was Superman) asking for a photo and being hassled for a $5 tip! From there, we went to Beverly Hills and then a view of the ocean via Sunset Boulevard, then posh Rodeo Drive where the stores supposedly snobbed Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. There I saw items I cannot and will not buy! We then had coffee at the Coffee Bean then were on our way again to our final destination, the Westin Bonaventure Hotel where we had dinner with a view of the whole LA area on the 35th floor which was a revolving restaurant. Too bad we couldn't go full circle as it would take about an hour and a half to do that and it was already 11:30! They took me home and after bidding everyone adieu, I hit the sack! The whole experience was fantastic. Gloria, as I expected, was charming and intently listening to how John and I talk about a lot of things. We share the same passion for music, the arts and practically everything and poor Gloria just had to listen to us talk. She wasn't complaining, though. As a matter of fact, I suspect she enjoyed seeing us discuss a lot of things. What was crappy was that just as soon as I was to take my first picture, the gate of Paramount Pictures, the battery of my camera died on me! All in all, it was a great day and I continue to expect even greater ones still to come. Today, Danny and Ochie will pick me up, then tomorrow, Rikki and the La Salle teachers and finally, on Sunday, Batjay, Jet, Tito Rhomes and Kristene! What a wonderful week this will be!