After church on Sunday in Dingras, we dropped the bulk of our full van off at Shekinah Home, and headed for the airport. Our flight was at 7:35PM, and we left Shekinah for the hour-long trip at about 5PM. We were advised that we should get to the airport 90 minutes before our flight, so we were pretty much right on time.
The only thing we had to do besides get to our flight was to somehow get John dinner. Faith and I could deal, but we wanted to deviate from John’s schedule as little as possible. The answer was simple: McDonald’s, baby!
We stopped at the McDonald’s in Laoag City. I have no idea how many McD’s there were in this part of the world, but I didn’t care that much. Any would do. This one had a drive-thru, but we didn’t use it – which I thought odd. This was the first cultural practice in the Philippines that I didn’t relate to, so it was a massive shock. Oh wait, haven’t you been reading these posts!?
Anyway, I went in and ordered food for the three of us, figuring it would be quick. I wanted a bit of a variety, both because I didn’t know what John would like and I wanted to try things there to compare them, so I ordered way too much food… 2 McDo burgers, 2 chicken sandwiches, 1 chicken nuggets, 1 fries, and 2 apple pies. They forced me to take the 2nd apple pie; I guess they only come in pairs. They laughed at me (I’m serious) when I asked for grilled chicken. And they made me wait like 7 minutes for the friend chicken. Ugh. I wouldn’t have cared, except that everyone was out in the van waiting for me. It wasn’t even the airport, it was keeping everyone waiting that stressed me out.
Finally, with food in hand, I got back to the car. John-John tore into some nuggets and fries, I had a chicken sandwich, and Faith waited (no idea why). John ate half the nuggets, all the fries, and tore through an apple pie. Go figure. Eats the fries and dessert first. I fear we’re bad parents. The rest went into our duffle bag for later use (in theory).
By the way, for the record… The chicken was good, but had a funky sauce on it that I definitely could have done without. I’m typically very against ordering the deep fat friend sandwich with fat sauce, but I had little choice in this situation.
We got to the airport right on time. As we got out of the car, everything went blurry. People were grabbing our bags, saying goodbye, waving the van to move on, etc. I abandoned concern for everything but Faith, John, and our travel documents. Well, I kept an eye on the bags too, but they were fine. They went in ahead of us, and we went through almost no security at all to ultimately be standing at the ticket counter. There was only one – for BOTH airlines. This was not a big airport.
There had been some concern about John’s ability to travel without a passport. I started to explain the situation to the guy behind the counter, but he just stamped the tickets and waved us through. It was ultra trivial.
Next came the guy who makes you pay an airport usage tax. We got that done easily too.
We then walked through one more metal detector (I’m not sure our bags ever got scanned – at least not while we had them), and found ourselves in the gate area. There was only one of these two. I think it took us a grand total of 8 minutes to get through everything to our seats, leaving us a good solid hour to wait to board the plane. Why again did we hurry?
We sat down, and almost immediately met a very nice pair of Chinese women who sat down next to us. They were traveling around the Philippines, and were very friendly to John. Faith swears he had a crush on one of the girls, Mi Mi, but I’m not as big a romantic. Either way, it helped to pass the time, for which I was grateful.
Eventually, the plane pulled up, which got John all manner of excited. We had continued the “we’re flying on an airplane today” routine all day, and John was excited pretty much every time we said it. Now that he was watching a real life airplane taxi in, he was thrilled. The gate area was just as small on the outside as it was on the inside, so when I say that the planed pulled up, I really mean it. It taxied in from the runway, and pulled up to the gate parallel to the windows we were looking out. A couple guys then rolled steps up to two doors on the plane, people walked down them, and in the door. It was more the way we’re used to bus terminals in America, not airports. But then, I’m not sure I’ve been in an airport this small in America either.
John watched every aspect of what was going on with great interest. I got a big kick out of that. I also got a big kick out of walking John in front of the powerful fans on the big air conditioning units in the room, and making funny faces when they suddenly chilled us. I discovered them by trying to reposition John for better views of plane-related activity, but soon started making excuses to get in front of them to hoard cold air.
When the time finally came to walk out the door, across the tarmac, and onto the plane, John lost confidence. It was dark and damp outside (had been raining), the planes engines were very loud, and everything was pretty big. He had expressed fear at a couple points before, primarily upon noticing the size difference between a real plane and the little toy plane we’d given him that morning. So, Faith and I were ready for his objections. I carried our carry-on bags (mostly with a bunch of stuff to feed and distract John if necessary), and she carried John, and we made a beeline for the plane, giving him as little time to be afraid and (especially to express his fear) as possible. It worked swimmingly, and before we knew it we were on board.
I knew instantly that it was all downhill from there. John was wild-eyed, excited, and playful the entire trip. He turned every knob there was to turn short of the cockpit. He checked out the bathroom, other seats, the windows, the chairs, the tray tables, the seat covers, and on and on. His absolute favorite item though was the safety information card. He got all three out of the seats in front of the row we were in, and shuffled them and “read” them and played with them and handed them out and hid them and found them and it went on and on for the whole flight. It was 10x easier than some of my early fears had thought it might be, and I praised God for yet again making the whole thing easy on us.
We got to Manila just over an hour after we boarded the plane. John was all about the baggage claim and every other aspect of the new, much bigger airport experience. However, it was clear he was starting to wind down … until he saw the luggage carts that is. Then it was off to the races again. He pushed the cart, then Faith pushed him, then he pushed the luggage, and then (my favorite) he pushed mommy on the cart while I was taking care of getting us a car to our hotel.
Once in the car, he tried to play the familiar flip-every-switch-there-is game, but tiredness got the best of him and he was pretty mellow by the time we got to the hotel. I don’t remember if we put him through our night time routine. I think we did. But either way, it was fairly uneventful, and we all slept soundly after a big day. I for one was thrilled to death to be back in Manila, which felt to me like a return to civilization. At the very least, it was a return to a real bed, a real shower, and air conditioning. And for Faith, morning couldn’t come fast enough, because a nice outdoor pool awaited her and her new water buddy!
BTW, in case you’re wondering, we got a room with two double beds, rather than one king. The plan was for John to take one bed and us to take the other. That worked most of the time we were there, but it definitely didn’t leave much in the way of privacy.