It’s 4am and I can’t sleep. I’ve flown halfway around the world, from Mexico to Texas to Cebu in the Philippines. Traveling on my brother’s dime, we’re staying at a 4.5 star resort (possibly upgraded to a 4.6 after the science is done) and I’m sitting buck-assed naked on my terrace listening to the roosters raise hell.
The trip here was a 27-hour blur. I stayed with my family for four nights, knowing I might not be back for a year or so and then flew out from Corpus Christi to Dallas. From there it was a short jaunt to San Francisco where I was facing a 13-hour leg to Manila.
I’d been told my luggage was checked all the way to my destination, Cebu. In San Fran, I was stopped by security and told I needed a real boarding pass (not that shitty fake one that American Airlines had given me, apparently) and pointed to aisle 11 to sort it out.
“There’s been a change in route”. The woman working the desk set me up with a backup flight in case I couldn’t make the connection (you’ll never read this and I wish I could remember your name, darlin’ but thank you — you were awesome).
But there was another change: “You’ll need to claim your baggage before going to immigration, then run like hell to make your connection”. And yes, she actually said “run like hell”. My kind of people…
So, after a very long flight, I stagger bleary-eyed to the baggage area and bounce and jitter and fret about my luggage. After seeing the same bag wind its way around a third time, it’s pretty obvious that mine isn’t here. I then “run like hell” to my terminal, but I’ve missed the flight.
“It left 5 minutes ago. We called your name.”
“Yeah, I was kind of waiting on my bag…”
The backup plan kicks in, they reroute my luggage (which no one seems to actually know where it is at the moment) and I take an hour nap in the Manila airport.
And somehow, miraculously, I arrive in the Cebu airport and my backpack comes rolling along on the conveyor belt. A tout asks where I’m going, makes a call and says “A shuttle will be here in 10 minutes”.
“Can I tip in US dollars?” I ask. He smiles and I slip him a couple for the help.
The service is great, with smiling people leaping to aid us at every turn. I can’t stand still for more than thirty seconds without someone asking if I need help.
“Thank you for the concern but I was just trying to find a quiet place to fart”.
We decide to check out the fancy outdoor restaurant by the water. It’s a very swank joint with glowing lounge chairs (no, really, they glow), a DJ pumping out tunes and a lot of people are cavorting in the hot tub in front of the stage. The service is pretty spotty here, considering the cost (after 45 minutes, I walk into the kitchen to ask where our food is) but it’s all fun, shiny and breezy.
After enjoying a crazily expensive dinner, drinking margaritas, sitting by the water and watching a silly but fun dance troop lip-synch to Michael Jackson covers, we call it a night.
My brother has planned a tour for tomorrow but I may just sit in my room and sniff the fluffy towels — this is new to me. I have a tub and a shower, cable TV, AC, and a thick robe. I really like the robe.
I’m also drinking the over-priced bottle of wine from the guest bar as I write this (sorry, bro but it was that or the complimentary cologne). I step out onto the small balcony and am greeted by a cacophony of roosters crowing.
My room faces out of the resort on to the many other resorts, but apparently there are still real families living here, nestled into the corners and forgotten places. And they have chickens.
Someone is thundering a wannabe Harley up and down the main drag and the roosters –a dozen or more– are cutting loose. It’s an orchestra for the insane. The sky was black as I started this but now the rising sun is smearing a crimson stain across steel grey clouds.
The roosters are going mad.
I’ve spoken of the Moment before, where everything just comes together, and here it does so quite literally. The roosters all have the same crow: “Ka ka ka kehhh” (sorry, but some sounds don’t translate well).
It’s a game of numbers –random chance and all that– but for one instant, at least ten of them cut loose at the exact same time and I’m treated to a huge “Ka ka ka KEHHH!”.
I stand up, laughing, and the wicker chair sticks to me, leaving a crosshatch tattoo on my bare ass.
I’ll have to speak to the management about that.