With a fistful of pesos from a successful garage sale I catch a tricycle from University Homes to Catarman Proper for the last time.
I wave goodbye to my toron* lady, my banana lady is having a siesta in her hammock; the fish seller is swatting flies off the catch of the day, unrefrigerated in the afternoon sun. Just a regular day for my barangay.
But it isn’t for me – after eight months of work with SPPI its time to call it a day, tapos na. I have a cacophony of conflicting emotions that are all struggling to be heard: joy, sadness, pride, relief.
And the most daunting of all thoughts, ‘what’s next Jen?’
After a fitful sleep in the itchy sheets in the Pink City Hotel, I go to the reception blearily eyed at 5am to check out and catch my flight to Manila. The fourth typhoon in a month has hit Manila, no flights today. I still have to trek out to the airport to reschedule my flight, so then I sit in the airport carpark with all my physical and emotional baggage pondering what I will do with my extra day that was not meant to happen.
I decide to splash out and stay at the Bobon Beach Resort half an hour out of town. Eating fresh buko (coconut), swimming in azure water and watching Meerkat Manor – there are worse ways to spend a day.
I decided not to relive my farewells and spent the day on my own. My despedida from my trabaho mates was the perfect Filipino experience. Running two hours late it was filled with singing, weird games that involved a lot of touching and confusing rules, videoke of love ballads in Tagalog, the tail-end of a typhoon, lechon (whole roasted pig), white rice, beer and very heartfelt and earnest speeches and gifts.
Two weeks later:
Hmm, must have forgotten to post this entry. Back in Newcastle now and things are same same but different. The locals are friendly, walk slowly, I’m confused by the public transport system and I saw a chicken on a neighbour’s front step, ano? Still pondering my next move but with a Pinoy perspective: a smile on my face, a deep gratitude for what I have with a dash of fatalism.
*Little bananas in pastry, covered in sugar and deep fried. My true weakness