Monday, August 13, 2007

Thoughtful and sleepless

I'm experiencing some pretty typical insomnia from travel -- a syndrome that often makes me lose sleep before a big trip. Normally it wouldn't be a problem as I enjoy flying so much more when I sleep through most of the flight. Even if my airline of choice has a reasonable selection of movies on my 'personal mini- screen' I've found that my downloading habits have precluded my enjoyment of same because I've seen everything on the menu and none of the items are worth rewatching. Only a few movies on my list are worth re-watching. The Blues Brothers for example and Margaret's Museum, sadly the latter is not available on and nobody in Canada wants rip it for me!

Tonight I have a sort of double insomnia, no triple. We have managed to give away most of our stuff that we don't think is worth bringing with us to Korea. What is 'worth' bringing is tightly controlled by the airlines strict policy on baggage exceeding 20kg per person (Charlize being an infant gets only a 10 kg allotment). Baggage in excess of the allotment is priced at about US$8.00 a kg! Of course we could cram heaps of junk into massive carry-on bags but I fear the only way we could handle those would be to give sedatives to Charlize. She is both a handful and not -- simultaneously.

On the one hand she seems so easy to entertain and she is so cute that it's hard not to expend the energy to entertain her. In addition, whenever she goes anywhere she is so outgoing that we frequently have the entire room as both audience and caregiver to help out. But, as was the case in the Korean consulate in Manila, sometimes her behavior is frowned upon. Her desire to stretch her legs and explore the environment can put her dad on edge a bit when there are security guards carrying shot-guns and other items of a lethal nature.

But by and large most people spend significant amounts of time smiling sweetly back at my daughter and imitating her hauntingly childish pronunciation of 'bye-bye' and 'mama', 'dada' not to mention the famous raspberry which she reserves for very happy moments in select groups of well known individuals. She is exceedingly stubborn about her energy levels. Sometimes it is nearly impossible to lull her into a state of unconsciousness. And she gets so very tired of being held. She loves to be picked up but then one must most definitely put her down so she can explore at her own level. In airports it can be a real challenge to keep inside those imaginary lines that mark the post security area and though she is as tough as nails, if she gets knocked over by a 30 kg suitcase she might just let out a cry or two which never lasts but the worry is that she'll pick up a few too many knocks on the knoggen or scar that pretty face of hers falling onto something sharp.

The Tricycle incident
The tricycle: Major form of transport in Aklan towns

tricycle driver

Speaking of scars, Dada picked up 5 stitches just 2 weeks ago as the portly old bastard was too busy watching his daughter to notice that his own knoggen was at risk. One of those covered tricycle carts run by the worst polluters of the Philippines the 2 stroke lawn-mower/motorbike combination was parked a little too close to Charlize's usual go-for-hell and forget all the risks attitude about traffic, obstacles and anything else you can think of and dada practically ran into the trailing edge of a tricycle roof so denting his knoggen painfully and bleeding a touch. The Philippines isn't too bad but it is pretty high on my list of places I don't want to get stitches.

Anyway that has healed, but I still have some twinges in my arms from the double dose tetanus shots that the "surgeon"(!) insisted I must have! But Charlize rarely gets me into trouble. She's made me a good deal more sociable actually. I'm not sure what people do with cute kids in Canada or Korea but in the Philippines people invariably ask her questions that she couldn't hope to answer . . . "What's your name?" "How old are you?" "Where are you from?"

It wasn't until I overheard Rosi answering in proxy that I realized that that must be the custom in the Philippines. Instinctively I would only shake my head and say rather scornfully that I don't think my daughter understood their question because she is too young in a tone that suggests that the questioner must be remarkably stupid for expecting such a young child to carry on a conversation-- then I would carry on with my shopping or coffee drinking as if that settled the matter. Now, sometimes I try to raise my voice when I answer questions for her but I never volunteer much information because I remind myself of my old neighbour who used to make a baby voice when she was speaking for one of her dogs or stuffed animals -- I was 14, I don't particularly recall thinking it was eccentric at the time but I have since found myself incredibly disgusted by the experience in retrospect.

As I was saying, I am felling a sort of triple insomnia because we are moving and travelling and at the same time immigrating (of sorts). Rosi being quite gravid makes me take pause at the prospect of applying for a spousal visa but I have a feeling that my worries are groundless. I should have explained that what she now has is a 3 month tourist visa which we can convert to a 1 year spousal visa once she gets into the country. What is not clear is what mountain of red tape we may need to climb to get the spousal if she is so gravidly, obviously pear-shaped and pregnant (related facts I assure you).

Anyway, I must take a coffee break now as it is just past 5 in the morning and we shall be leaving for the domestic airport (thus flying to Manila) at around 10am. The following morning at 6 in the morning we disembark for Korea (which means a sad and sickly 4am arrival time at the internation airport in Manila)!

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