Leaders call it punctuality and discipline. An adventurer at heart, I call it over excitement – the team making it at least three full hours before boarding time! Because no one is a first time traveler, the tedious checking in was never an issue. From there started what would be the longest trip of our lives, literally.
We boarded at roughly 5:30 a.m.. The long queue was rather an awesome sight. It made me wonder how many people – fathers, mothers, children – leave everyday. And that persistent question: for what? At any rate, flight realized at 6:15. Quite a short trip from Manila to Nagoya, four hours at most. The one hour time difference made it appear even shorter. The brief stop over had us taking pictures and exchanging jokes to ward off what I suspect to be similar to the jitters I had the day before. After two hours of exploring Nagoya airport, and getting little “somethings” for us to remember the brief encounter with the land of the rising sun, we boarded the same plane. It was a 12-hour flight, and not being seated together made it less interesting. We slept and ate and moved around. At times like this, one felt so helpless.
Detroit airport is such a relief! Once there, we managed to freshen up and later enjoy the sight. It was slightly snowing and I could feel the cold. It’s weird leaving morning of April 18 and arriving morning of the same date, yet felt like it’s been years up there! Though still worrying about the calorie intake at the plane and not having been able to burn them up, we opted to eat knowing we had to stay four more hours before a plane takes us to Akron-Canton, our final destination. I helped myself to a serving of baked potato in bacon and cheese paired with a chocolate shake. Then, the endless picture taking. While the rest again slumbered comfortably in the lounge, I entertained myself by engaging in a witty conversation with a teammate. I wanted to doze off but I was afraid my contact lenses might just dry up, and my eye lubricant was nowhere to be found.
Flying from Detroit to Akron was less imposing. What was overwhelming was the reception right down the lane. Mary, the GSE coordinator, who refused to let us tell her our names and see if she were able to associate the names with the faces (and quite successfully!) was there. James Russell, the District Governor of RI 6650 whose name we have memorized since visa application warmly welcomed the team as well. Shelly, Sheryl, George, Mina and a few other very kind Rotarians were very accommodating, always asking about how our flight was and how else might they make us feel comfortable. As we drove to Ruby Tuesday, Shelly was giving us a rundown of the next day’s activity simultaneously showing us some of the nice places in Ohio. The state is rather quiet, unlike the busy streets often featured in movies. Although it was almost 8:00, it was not even dark and that gave me the impression of the shops not having to close for the day as yet. But Shelly said, they’re normally closed at 9:00. At Ruby Tuesdays, we had a hefty serving of grilled chicken salad dressed in honey-mustard; not my normal dinner, but it was inviting. The apple juice was heavenly, completely unlike the packed apple juice I had my whole life.
We drove for a few minutes to Boardman to be with our foster family. Shelly was saying Jerry sounded so excited about our coming. It was dark by then at 10:00 but I never missed noticing that the neighborhood was cool. Arriving at the new home, I was surprised at how Dianne and Jerry could be so trusting of guests. They have a cozy, very nice place; it almost looked “uninhabited.” Everything was in order, like those one sees in display rooms or home magazines. True enough, only Jerry and Dianne live there and that explained why they’re pretty excited about our coming. We looked around the house, not big (huge!), and one would hesitate sitting on a chair or moving a vase or something because everything was orderly. I felt rich for a day. The upper storey was all ours for the taking. I’ve got a charming room painted in white and blue with all the amenities quite fitted to my person, it seemed. There were literature books and a cushioned rocking chair and a lamp nearby. I was almost tempted to read if not only I was rather tired and feeling quite a mess already. I opted to take a warm shower instead and take a rest…