I think I found a perfect tagline for my 16-day US/Mexico trip – When It’s Your Time. No other words could succinctly describe the whole experience.
I am notorious for cramped itineraries to take advantage of the time. I know it’s impossible to see everything in such a short amount of time, but I still do it anyway. Hehe… This trip was no different. It was stuffed to the max, considering that it involved my 76-year old grandma and my sole resource to get me to places, my uncle who was the only one among us who can drive.
In hindsight, I am just in awe by how it seems everything were puzzle pieces fitting so well together into one wonderful picture. Like I said in a previous post, Trip to Americas, it was a highly ambitious trip highly dependent on miracles. Let’s just say I achieved 90% of my planned itinerary plus some sidelights and treats in between which more than made up for the 10%. I should say everything went perfect.
It was my time to spend time with family from both sides of the tree. It was not a lot withrelatives from my dad’s side due to my very hectic schedule. It was supposed to be a sad meeting due to the passing of my grandma, but it turned out to be a sort of reunion just the same. It was time… Though the travel time from LA to LV was much longer than the time we visited my LV family, we went anyway. Thanks to my uncle’s friend who let us borrow his car (and save on gas) plus uncle has an alternate driver 🙂
The wedding of my cousin from my mom’s side brought the whole family together (except mine who were back home). I say that occasions are one of the best times to see everybody all at the same time. It was a heartbreaking occasion on one side and a joyous occasion on the other, and I am glad I was able to come.
It was my time to see and harvest lavenders! Blame it on me stumbling upon the Lavender Festival in Sequim in the internet which takes places the weekend after the planned visit. Right there I knew I wanted to go there. I didn’t realize it was on the other side of Washington from Spokane. But I was so enchanted by the beauty of the place and the festive atmosphere with lavenders in full bloom that I did not stop bugging my uncle to take us there. He was passive at first but started to “freak out” when he consulted the map, hehehe… I had to look for other options where lavenders are also present and for alternate routes we may take to reduce the travel time. And I started to console myself that this leg of the trip may not happen. It was my time, and it happened! We got a very good car from the rental company, my uncle liked his Subaru! And, we also got to save on hotel bills, we stayed with my uncle’s friend’s sister who also served us with Pinoy-style breakfast. We couldn’t have gotten this treatment from any hotel in Seattle.
On our flight from Spokane to California, we had to connect through Salt Lake City but there was a thunderstorm on the way. We were on a small plane and it couldn’t handle the winds that we had to make another round in hopes that the winds/rains will change its direction. It took only one round then we landed. This has delayed our arrival in LA for 1 hour which left me with just 2 hours to check-in for my flight to Mexico. I was getting paranoid since I was not sure how much time I need to transfer terminals and check-in. I was catching my breath when I reached Alaska Airlines’ Terminal. It was my time to make it to my flight. I threw away my gut-feel of going to the International Terminal and followed somebody’s advice to go to Alaska Airlines Terminal for my check-in. He was right! Or it could have cost me more time and probably even my flight! Whew!
Most of my plans in Mexico were realized. The tour agency that I used was trustworthy and credible, and I was even happier that Mexicans also trust their clients, or I was just lucky. There were no petty crimes that I was worried about before I went. My friends and my uncle’s friends were a little worried too, but this little girl made it! Bruise-free, scratch-free and happy!
The most scary of all was the MOVECON being implemented by the US Military for our program. I have been told by a friend that movements going back and leaving Kabul was suspended and people are being stuck somewhere. I did not see the email and I just dismissed it as a prank, this friend loves playing pranks, especially with me! So there I was enjoying my time despite his warning. It was not until 2 days before my departure to US when other colleagues of mine confirmed this issue. We met one morning and had breakfast in a Filipino food chain in Glendale. It was buffet breakfast of pares meals (combo meals, like daingsilog, longsilog, tapsilog), they had dinuguan, champorado, etc. Filipino desserts and yet I couldn’t savor the food. I was worried I may be stranded in LA for an unknown duration. After breakfast, I left for San Diego where I’ll be meeting another friend. My colleagues advised me to get in touch with my supervisor immediately and find out if I need to rebook my tickets. Thank God for the wi-fi in Amtrak’s train, I used the whole time to send emails and check responses from the office.
My ticket was rebooked. Thank God I only had to shorten my vacation for 1 day. But… I still didn’t have my UAE visa! I got in touch with our Travel Department, and they were so quick to apply for one for me. It was Ramadan in UAE, though, and they were not sure how soon they could get it. Uh-oh…
That’s when I became nervous. Two days to my departure and it felt like all the good time that I had for two weeks are vanishing. I was starting to melt like candle. I told my grandma to pray over with me, and we held each other’s hand and prayed together. I felt assured afterwards, several times that we did this on this trip, and our prayers were answered.
Still that did not keep us from going on per our schedule. We went to Solvang / Sta. Barbara Mission the following day and heard mass. We made our petitions afterwards and of course, on top of my list was TO GET MY UAE VISA BEFORE I LEAVE. We had a good time going around Sta. Barbara, we had a small picnic by the church and admired the quaint, white houses that have an undistracted view of the church. We went to Solvang afterwards, and I was thrilled being in “Denmark”. I thought if I am able to visit Solvang this trip, that my plans to visit Europe in December will push through. I had the sign that I asked for. I was regularly checking my email for my visa. No luck! However, I received my rebooked ticket and the next problem was finding a print shop. There was none in Solvang, being a small town and being a weekend. We were all on the look-out for somewhere we can print. Luckily, there was one in Sta. Barbara City Center, so my tickets are solved. The only thing pending is my UAE visa.
There must be a voice whispering on my uncle’s ear because he wanted us to leave earlier so we have more chances of finding a print shop that was open. Who would have thought that after we found the print shop and merged into the highway, there was a seveeeeeeere traffic we will encounter. The 3-hour drive to Glendale turned out to be a 6-hr drive and it was impossible to find a print shop by that time. Was it luck? Or was it just our time to not be more stressed?
The whole day of my last day in US was spent at home, packing my stuff and just taking a break from the madman dash that we did for 2 weeks. And there I was silently praying for an email that says UAE Visa to pop up. No luck. Arrangements have been made for us to wake up our neighbor even at the wee hours whenever I get the visa. Still, no luck.
Even as I was closing the gate to leave for the airport, I was checking my email with my uncle’s phone, with no luck. On the 45-minute drive to the airport, I was going over possible options and alibis I can explore. I prepared myself for what could happen. Right by the doorway of the airport and there was an email with my visa, and we were just so happy. It is your time, my grandma said.
Next problem was to print my visa out. There was no wi-fi in the airport and I was not sure if they would accept elecronic visa. At 3:30 in the morning, my uncle and I were running around the terminal looking for an office to print the page plus I had to repack my luggage. We had no choice but to go to a nearby hotel and print the visa off from their business center. First hotel we found was Sheraton Hotel and to access their wi-fi, I had to swipe my credit card for a minimum of $8.00 for 15-minutes use and another $0.80 for printing. This is my most expensive printing job so far. Hehehe… Never mind the cost, I was just elated about everything. We rushed back to the airport, then we were calm…
We just felt so relieved and thankful and we recognized how everything came out perfect and photo-finish. I can feel goosebumps as I realized how everything went “my way” despite of everything. I think these circumstances made me realize how special I was and how present God has been in this trip.
At our brunch picnic in Sta. Barbara, we were discussing whether things happen because you “worked for it” or because it was destined to be so. I thought that you need to work for things that you want for them to be yours. I thought I didn’t want an excuse for “laziness” and I thought that hard work will have its rewards. But there are some things that are beyond your control that no amount of planning and risk management tools you have will make you avoid it. My uncle and grandma had no other explanation except that it IS TIME. These things were meant to happen that nothing has gotten in the way. Nobody fell sick, no flights were missed, treats were popping here and there… It was beautiful!
It was our time to be humbled and to learn to trust for everything to work out. I am not being unrealistic and dreamy here. I just realized that things happen for a reason and things will happen with you worrying your life away or with you just letting things be and finding your inner peace as they happen. We realized that there are things that just needs to be lifted up to Him and if things don’t go your way, that it’s time for lessons to be learned.
I have been looking forward to the bits of advices and nuggets of wisdom from my uncle and grandma on this trip. I did get it from our discussions during meals and long-drives but I didn’t realize that we part ourselves of a roleplay to demonstrate certain lessons.
Would I still cramp my itineraries and heavily rely on miracles on my upcoming travels? I guess so… If they are bound to happen, they will happen. It wouldn’t hurt to dream, believe and see things unfold…
I went to have a good time yet I just found myself enrolled in a 16-day class and I thought I passed it with flying colors 🙂