July 17, 2011

The Cemetery gates are locked: NOBODY is Getting in. The Church is open: NO photos

Boeing was acting up so he had to visit the Ford dealership to be worked on. Our “30 minute oil change” turned into 5 days and several thousand Pesos later. Frustrating? YES...Hiva told me I needed to be nice before  I would call or when we went into the dealership. (That is why she is so great for me, only if I could be more loving like she is naturally) So before I dialed the number or while I was waiting at the desk because the “only cashier is on her lunch break” I practiced my best ‘see-I-am-happy-smile-even-if-this-is-really-really-annoying-right-now smile (if you have never seen someone do it, it is similar to someone that has bad facelift and they are permanently smiling so hard it is painful) and repeated in my head “I can be nice, I can be nice, I can be nice.” I would finish the conversation pleasantly surprised how well I handled it despite my boiling irritation only to have Lady Hiva roll her eyes and say, “You need to remember they are Heavenly Father’s children too. And the cashier needs a lunch at work just like you do.” OUCH! I have SO far to go.

We went to Intramuros just North of Rizal Park. Intramuros is an old Spanish Colony from thousands of years ago. It is surrounded by an ancient wall that if you took out the Jeepneeys honking outside you would think you were in Europe. There is now a golf course around the outer edge and beautiful moss growing on the old rock wall. As you enter Intramuros it feels like an older, slightly dirtier version of a European city. Complete with cobblestone streets, large piazza style homes, and cathedrals. It was fascinating to see.

There were really no designated places to park—I guess the Spanish did not think of EVERYTHING back in the 1500s. So I pulled up to a random empty lot, walked over to the two security guards across the street with really big guns and asked  if I could park there; in Tagalog of course, it seems to get more brownie points that way. They agreed and just to be nice as we walked by them towards the Cathedral I gave them 50 Pesos ($1 USD). The one guard shook his head no, said, “No Sir, its ok.” But in Viper like action his hand snapped forwarded snatched the money and stealthily pocketed it like nothing had happened.

The Cathedral was beautiful. I guess it is the 8th one built on the spot. The first was in 1500 something and built out of bamboo. It burned down…go figure. Candles+wind+bamboo=LARGE S’more party. The stone building there today is stunning. There was a wedding going on so the man at the door  told us the Cathedral was still open but asked us to not take photos. I had the camera so I agreed; knowing that Lady Hiva would not want me to take them anyway. About ten minutes into being there I had veered off into an alcove reading the intriguing history of the building’s many evolutionary stages, Hiva came over and said, “I want some photos, can I have the camera?” So off she went and took photos of the gorgeous building while hiding around the giant stone pillar from the guy at the door! –Wait?! Who did I say was my example earlier? But, hey I did not complain, we have some sweet photos of the place now.

As we were driving in one section of town we passed several poor areas. It is still amazing to me that there are people who drive Porsches and Ferraris, have gated homes with 10 maids, shop at Gucci and Louis Vuitton, and eat at restaurants for $100 a plate and then two kilometers away there are people who ride bikes or push carts that have been built out of scrap materials and usually walk wherever they need to go,  sleep on cardboard under the trees or overpasses, wear the same outfit every day until it falls apart, and could feed the whole family for 3 months for $100. As we drove up one street it was obvious—to the left were miles and miles of poor home structures called “squatters,” and to the right were large pristine sky rises built in the last three years. Photos just don’t do the feeling justice.

We decided to ride up and see the American cemetery. A smaller version of what Arlington National Cemetery looks like. We arrived at 5:15pm and the guard told us it was closed and we were NOT getting in. He gave us a brochure to look at and told us nicely that “you will like to come back tomorrow, very beautiful tomorrow when open.” I thanked him for his kindness and then factiously wondered as I walked back to Boeing if after hours the Cemetery becomes a hideously ugly place after it closes…I guess we will see the beauty of it another day—between 9 and 5 of course.

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