'Round the World in 44 Days travel blog

Tagaytay and the Taal Volcano

Tyler, Raymond, and the Pinoys


On Saturday, we paid our bill, grabbed a taxi, and headed for the airport. Once again, cleared immigration, cleared security, grabbed a bite of breakfast, and boarded a Philippine Air flight to Manila. The flight is about 3 hours with a one hour time change.

Philippine Air flies in and out of Terminal 2. That's a little misleading; makes it sound like Manila has one airport with three terminals. It would be closer to say that Manila has three airports in roughly the same part of town. So, given the fact that Terminal 2 is pretty much exclusively Philippine Air, you would think immigration would be a breeze. Well, not so much. We landed on the airstrip and didn't bother to pull to the terminal. We just hopped down some stairs onto the tarmac and took a bus to the terminal. The line wasn't all that long, but what they lacked in sheer numbers they made up for in speed. It was a very slow speed. We entertained ourselves by speculating on what the sign meant that declared this a "no wang wang zone." No, I'm serious.

Tyler cleared immigration quickly and I did the same right behind him. The guy didn't even look at my unbearded picture suspiciously. So, what took everyone else so long? Oh well. Bags were not at baggage claim 4 as announced, but we found them, grabbed some cash out of the ATM, and headed to the curb to wait for my friend Raymond. Raymond had warned me he might be a little late, so I didn't worry too much, but the guy putting people in taxis was very concerned for us. "When will your friend be here?" I'm not sure. Soon. "Don't you want to just get a taxi?" No. "It would be faster." Maybe, but I dont' really know where I'm going. "Where are you staying?" I don't know, my friend will take me there. "What's the name of the hotel?" I don't know. "You don't know?" Right. He was completely aghast at that. How can an American fly halfway around the world and not know where he was staying. He doesn't know me so well, huh? "What if your friend doesn't show up?" He'll be here. "Why don't you call him?" I don't have a phone that works. "You can use my phone." I don't know his number. Aghast again, "You don't know his number?" No. He would leave us alone for a few minutes, then think of more question to ask, no doubt hoping that he could help me figure this thing out. In some way other than waiting patiently for my friend.

Eventually Raymond showed up with three of his youth leaders in tow. Hugs. Throw the bags in the car. Head to Tagaytay. Tagaytay is an active volcano. The major part of the crater has become a big lake with little volcano's pushing their way up through the water. I've been there several times and think it is a beautiful place. Might not have been excited about making the trek, but I figured it would be a great way for Tyler to see a bit of the beauty of the Phils, something in short supply in Manila. I laughed and joked with Raymond and his mentees all the way up and over lunch. Tyler was a little quiet. I'm learning he is a pretty private person. On the way back, he got in a long discussion with Raymond. One of the pinoys asked him about his tattoo. After explaining that it almost ended his life--his parents rather than the needles--he talked about what it meant to him. "Awake my soul!" It is a commitment to the people who really love him--his parents, his brothers, his close friends. It was a very tender word, something Tyler doesn't talk about often. Rich times.

On Sunday, we slept in and then made our way to SM North. That's what you do in the Philippines, I've been told. You go to the mall. We found food. Mostly just walked around and people watched. Raymond had planned to take us to dinner at Green Hills at 5 p.m., but, when we got back to the Guest House, we got a message saying he was going to have to cancel. We grabbed a taxi and went to Green Hills anyway. It is a great shopping mecca where you can buy knock off NBA jerseys, hand-carved wood--and just about anything else you want. We poked around then found the Mang Inisal, my favorite Philippino fast food--roasted chicken with unlimited rice. Somehow Tyler decided to order sisig, sort of fried pork giblets served with rice. Ugh. He said it wasn't too bad. But then he clarified and said it tasted like someone had served him scrapings from the bottom of a well-used frying pan. At least the Halo Halo was good.

I hated to see Tyler go, but at 5:30 on Monday, I got up and walked to the main street to hail a cab for him. Gave Tyler a big hug and wished him well. I feel closer to Tyler than ever before. The time with him was good--some of it good conversation, some of it fun, some of it very quiet. Tyler is deep waters. He's the kind of guy who takes a while to really get to know. I hope I get time like this again with Tyler sometime in the future.



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