Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Turkey in the news (yikes)

Turkey has been in the news lately because of bombings which is putting a bit of an apprehension to our travel plans there. First there was the bombing at the seaside resort of Kusadasi which killed 5 people. Then there was that explosion in Istanbul (where we're going) at a cafe. Two more bombings in another resort town again. Another explosion in Istanbul just happened today killing two. Police have been trying to downplay some of these incidents as accidents but it's enough to give you pause though. Don't want to be caught at the wrong place at the wrong time.

On a happier note, unseen Picasso paintings will be exhibited in Istanbul beginning November 21. I'd like to see if we can catch that exhibit on our return trip from Georgia.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Los Angelitos

Well I haven't been to one of the Corazon de Vida orphanages in a while, and I've been looking forward to this one for a few weeks. The day started off rather eventfully, one of the young girls on board did not have her ID with her so she couldn't go and had to stay behind. About an hour and a half into the trip, the bus blew out a tire while on the 5 freeway. I can't believe it took 3 and a half hours for someone to come and change the tire. While we were waiting on the side of the freeway, a three car accident happened next to us. Less than an hour later, a big rig carrying liquified petroleum gas stalled two lanes next to us. It was rather eerie, as that general area of the freeway had some sort of negative vortex or something. A couple that were on the bus decided that they had to get off since one of them had to work later and wasn't sure that they'd be back in time. Despite the delay and the restlessness that was spreading within the bus, George, our trip leader kept a cool head and managed to get us going again.

Anyway, seven hours, that's right, SEVEN hours later we finally made it to TJ and to the orphanage. This one is called Little Angels or Los Angelitos. It is run by a Baptist Christian ministry led by an American named Ed. As soon as I stepped off the bus, the long bus ride quickly faded into memory. What was in front of me now were the smiling faces of these children. I don't know what it is, maybe because I'm feeling the paternal need to have children of my own or maybe because these kids are just so cute, but I just feel that nothing else matters at that moment but just spending time with them. We were lucky to have spent at least a couple of hours at the home at least. One of them, Celina, managed to get the CDV bracelet I just bought... no problem though. She was wearing it proudly and showing it off to her sister. The kids here were pretty behaved and not as rambunctious as some of the others in the other homes. Maybe because the adult to kid ratio is higher than others. It also seems like Ed runs a tight ship. I saw him telling one of the girls to pick up some litter on the ground, to make sure to keep the place looking clean especially with the guests. He was saying this in Spanish, but I think that's what he said.

Anyhow, all good things must come to an end and we had to board the bus and head out again. The trip back home didn't take as long, thankfully. I resolved to try to go to the orphanage again very soon.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Sitting here wondering where to go next...

It's been a few weeks since I came back from Hawaii, and my thoughts have not been very far from my next travels. A couple of weekends ago, I ran into Jen S. (a cutie from school) at an art opening, who said that she just came back from a backpacking trip in SE Asia, (Laos and Thailand, I think). I couldn't escape thoughts of exotic beaches and jungles, while being attacked by mosquitoes and the tropical humidity. I made a mental note--must put those countries in my to visit list.

But my next trip is not so exotic although not less exciting either. September, I'm taking a break from school and teaching (thank you very much, Ron for covering for me) and taking a weeklong trip to Madrid. If possible, Spain should be a destination of every Filipino at least once in their lifetime. Whether you think it's good or bad, Filipinos owe much of their culture now to the Spanish influence (at least 300 years of colonial rule before the Americans "liberated" them). Just the country's name itself is derived from King Philip something of Spain. I mean, our culture carries so much of the Spanish baggage, that it might be worth seeing where all of it came from. Anyway, I've been to Barcelona a couple of times before but visiting the capital of the nation which has changed the face of my country forever is a significant trip for me. I really know very little about it, but my good friend, Yolanda, a Madridena (I made this term up for a Madrid citizen) is going to be there as well. Hopefully she won't be too busy to show me around and tell me some more about her culture and city from a Spaniard's perspective. Believe it or not, she was not aware that the Philippines was under Spanish rule for so long. Actually the real purpose of the trip is to attend my cousin's wedding which, of course, just made me commit to the trip even more.

In November, I'm embarking on a more exotic trip. I was invited to go on this over lunch in Santa Monica one Saturday afternoon in May. Jane was explaining that she has a friend working with the Peace Corps and she and her husband are based in Georgia (the country, not the state). Jane was extended an invitation to visit, she accepted and has made plans to visit Tbilisi (first time I've heard of the capital was during our lunch) via Istanbul. She asked me "Do you want to go?" I looked at her funny with my lunch in my mouth as if to say "Can't you see I'm still eating?" and said "I'm not done yet." Then I realized she meant "Do I want to go with her to Turkey and Georgia." I immediately said yes without thinking how I'm going to afford this and what I'm going to do about my class that I teach. But things seem to be falling into place. Money's going to be tight the next several months, but I need to do what I need to do, and that is to see the world.

I recently met Malu online. She hails from Bacolod City in the Visayas region of the Philippines but now lives in Chula Vista near San Diego, CA. Since we've been talking, I've gotten more interested in seeing that part of the country which I've never been to before. So I'm already making very tentative plans (more like just mental plans) to visit the Philippines in January. I have a cousin, Fe Amor, who I've never met before and lives in Cebu. So my plans definitely include visiting her, my family in Iligan and some of the beautiful beaches and resorts of the Philippines. Because of negative imagery and news that come out of the media and a lack of information about the Philippines, not a lot of Americans think of it in positive terms. Hopefully with the imagery and memories I bring back, these will change somewhat at least with my friends and family here in California.