I COULDN’T believe it, but there I was. Dusk, microwave-heating sun long gone, and barely moving, waiting for our ride, and I was perspiring. Not the ga-munggo (beadlike), slow-drip way, but sweating buckets, just idling my engine and revving my pistons. I didn’t know which was more unlikely : that I was nearly suffocating without the maximum Philippine heat, or that I was no longer used to weather here.
I am literally embarrassed to tell you this, but the tropical paradise that I thought would be an unexpected treat, after leaving late-autumn Wellington, wasn’t the purely pleasant experience that I thought it would be. Not only does the climate average around 10 to 15 degrees higher, the humidity or water droplets in the air is doubly stifling, almost like the air is sweating right along with you. This partly explains why, even after sunset, and despite just staying in place, my sweat glands were working overtime, on practically every square inch of skin available.
Curiously, all around me were kabayan, fellow worker ants and others just trying to survive, and they weren’t sweating a bit. In fact, some looked quite comfortable in the last heat wave of the day. Just a bit bushed and lonesome for home.
Lesson : You live or die with the temperature-cum-humidity. You can take refuge in the air-conditioned hotel room, mall and rarefied resto function rooms, but if you want to be true to yourself and your motherland, spend a few hours each day under the Metro Mania sun, complete with muggy air, soot and carbon monoxide. It’s good for sustaining your gratitude for living in your adopted land.
What I won’t forget about this trip home was the fact that I suffered a permanent gout attack that last the duration of the two weeks plus here. I don’t know which factor was responsible for it : the airplane food I consumed, the free alcohol during the same flight, the extended period of time I spent on my fat behind, bloating the blood vessels coursing through my legs, or my recent lack of exercise. Or a combination of some or all. Whatever my legs looked like those of the Jollibee mascot or the stumps of a sumo wrestler’s, resulting in restricted mobility. My gait was labored, and every step was an ordeal, whether we were checking out the latest 1st class imitations in St Francis Square, enjoying the newest extensions to the Pasig malls, or looking for cheap DVD copies in Greenhills.
What’s worse, the inflammation wasn’t subsiding any time soon, and the usual trick of drinking water by the giant glassful wasn’t working. My brother prescribed gout medication and it eased the pain somewhat, but since I arrived and to this day, my lower leg and ankle have been numb, tender and unable to bear the usual weight of a slightly overweight, middle-aged Asian, that’s me.
Lesson : Make preparations and allowances for your ailments, conditions and particular quirks of your body. The usual medications might not be available, you might require a strict diet regimen that your hosts and the local milieu cannot provide efficiently, and the climate, drinking water and time zone are a triple whammy combining to convert pleasure into torture. NOT the sort of Facebook posts you’d want your 800 friends to see.
Lastly, Mahal had her folks, six brothers and sisters, dozen-plus nephews and nieces to visit in various parts of Luzon, there were old cronies, contemporaries and buddies to look up and pester, and an election that just happened to be taking place while we were here! So much to do and not enough time, obviously, to do it in.
Lesson : You can’t do everything, much as you’d like to do so. Focus on what you intended to do in the first place, which is family, friends, and the agenda attached to your trip, whatever that is. So pick your spots and fight the battles that count. You can’t win them all, because winning the war is the prize that matters. You can’t please everybody, keep the big picture in mind, and begin with the end (of the trip) in mind.
Most of the above sounds easier than it actually is, and doesn’t talk about anything you don’t already know. But forewarned is forearmed, preparation is the key to victory, and all that. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, because all my travails can still serve as a bad example. And all that.
- The Best Websites for the Latest News in Gout Research (arthritis.answers.com)
- Anthony Bourdain gets a taste of Jollibee on Parts Unknown! (flipjams.wordpress.com)