Before the trip, my plan was to do field research during the day and then spend about half an hour blogging each night to keep in touch with friends and family outside of the Philippines. But, you see, those plans were made before the Advent of Jetlag.
The time difference between Cebu City and Chicago is fifteen hours. That means that, literally, our days and nights are flipped upside-down. The last time I was in Manila, twelve years ago, I landed on an evening flight and slept the entire next day sprawled out on my cousinâ€™s bed. So, I expected the same would happen here. Itâ€™s no big deal. You just sleep it off and then adjust to the, albeit huge leap, in time zone.
But every journeyâ€™s different and when we landed last Thursday, it was 5:30 a.m. Manila time. We got to the Manila Airport Hotel, our stop-over before heading out to Cebu on Friday afternoon. We were tired, but very, very excited. And wide awake. This was unexpected.
So, instead of sleeping off the day, we called our relatives and met them earlier than anticipated. We crammed Auntie M, Uncle E, Uncle C, Auntie E and our own little family of three into our air-conditioned hotel room and caught up on family stories. It was a great impromptu reunion!
This was the first time Alan and Boy-boy had met any of them. As Alan said later, clearly tickled, â€œYouâ€™re relatives are so cute! Every one of them!â€ Uncle E has the smooth, deep voice of a radio announcer. He and Auntie M kept making these jokes about getting older. She said, â€œYou always think of yourself as young.â€ And he adds, â€œUntil â€“ until somebody calls you Tatang.â€ Which is an affectionate term for elder, or father. â€œSoon,â€ said Uncle E, â€œI will be Lolo (grandfather.) And after that? SUPER Lolo.â€ I donâ€™t if this translates. Part of the humor is in Uncle Eâ€™s delivery.
Filipinos here seem also alternately surprised and amused that Alan can speak Tagalog. They look at him with his blue eyes and pale skin, his beard and American clothes and donâ€™t expect him to say things like, â€œMagandang umaga! Meron po kayo nang Globe Card?â€ (Globe is a company that provides calling time on cell phones.) We love seeing peopleâ€™s reaction at the seeming incongruity. Mostly, itâ€™s fun to mess with peopleâ€™s expectations.
But anyway, back to the point I was trying to make with this blog entry: Jetlag threw off my blog writing time considerably, which is why Iâ€™m having to play catch-up. Hereâ€™s an excerpt from my journal: â€œIf youâ€™ve never had jetlag before, it feels something like this â€“ When youâ€™re standing still, the earth sways beneath your feet like a shipâ€™s deck riding a huge swell. Can anyone say queasy?â€ We felt this way for maybe 4 days. Now, the queasy feeling is gone.
My body had fallen into a rhythm of falling asleep at around 8 or 9 p.m. Cebu City time. Iâ€™d wake up at 3 or 4 a.m., read, research, and generally think through my action plan for the upcoming day. Then, Iâ€™d get exhausted by 5 a.m. Back to bed for another hour or hour-and-a-half of sleep. Usually, I was wide awake by 6:30 and weâ€™re out to breakfast at around 7 or 7:30.
Iâ€™ve learned since our last trip to Greece, that itâ€™s best to follow my bodyâ€™s rhythm. The jetlag isnâ€™t something you necessarily have to fight. Your body finds its own way of marking time. Waking up at 4 a.m. to work hasnâ€™t been so bad. In fact, itâ€™s the time of day when the entire family is quiet. Iâ€™ve been waking up at that time with my thoughts cogent and research questions clear and realizations about the previous dayâ€™s work come easily in the tahimik, the peace of early morning.
So, letâ€™s see how many entries I can put online this morning to catch up. Itâ€™s 6 a.m. in Cebu City now. To our friends and family in the States: Have a great dinner!