I am writing this part of the blog at night. I cannot risk waiting for tomorrow for fear of forgetting the moment. The hotel is full of the sounds of guests getting ready for bed. The moment I am talking about is the perfect weather. Once in a while there are moments that as so perfect, one cannot think of anything but the here and now. It is 11:00 pm and the ocean breeze has slowed to a whisper. It is OK though, because the night has cooled to a perfect 30 degrees. The ocean out my front door is almost mirror smooth and the traffic light. It is times like this that make all the hard work of adapting to another country worth while. I can actually sit and stare blindly ahead without a thought in my mind, and just soaking in sheer pleasure. I will you could all see and feel what I have at this moment. Now it is back to my perch to continue my peaceful meditation. And here are a few more pictures of the boat trip.
Let us continue with Mai’s story…. It has been a while.
Mai’s escape attempts lasted for 3 years. Every month she would scrape up enough money for an attempt, and every month she would be caught or betrayed and end in jail. She was extremely lucky and never got physically abused as many did, and never “disappeared” as others also did. That is a story for her to tell. Remember that she had decided that escape was going to happen or she would die in the attempt. She meant it!! One day Mai had an epiphany…. Instead of using money to try to escape and having a unscrupulous person turning her in, she decided to offer something that could not be refused. She used her hard worked for money to buy a Ships compass. Yes it was old and not too expensive…. But it was rare and necessary for a boat to make good its journey. When the escape attempt happened, the people organizing it made sure she was in one of the small
baskets that made it to the ship. She held onto the compass tightly and would give it up to no one until safely aboard. Her strategy paid off and she made it to one of two boats that were tethered off shore. The boats were exactly as the pictures show, however, they were in very unseaworthy shape and therefore suitable for a one way attempt at escaping the country. Each boat carried 225 people that left no room for sleeping. Everybody had to stand or use each other as places of rest. With the compass, the boat set off for the Philippines with the other following. It was only two days to sea when a Typhoon hit. For 4 days the small overloaded boats were tossed at sea. I do not know how many people were swept away as I have never asked, but the two boats weathered the storms. I cannot imagine the hardship of these people willing to die for a better life, but they continued. The boats finally were getting close to the Philippines when
another storm struck. This time it was not so lucky. The boats were already close to land and one of them struck some rocks. Luckily Mai and her fellow passengers survived, however, the other boat was destroyed and only one of the 225 people survived. The storm passed and the refugees sat waiting for rescue. After a time, the half dead people saw a military ship bearing down on their battered and now immobile craft. Mai speculated that the boat may have been sabotaged in order that they could not be turned back. To their relief, the Philippine navy loaded them onto their ships for transport to land. This part of the story gets a little bit fuzzy. I know she had escaped with her cousin and he helped her a lot in the escape and the survival, I also know that
life in the Philippine refugee camps must have not been an easy thing, but sometimes she just says “ it is normal” as if all of us lived a life like that. I will
do my best to tell what I know of her time in the Philippines in a future post.
I only have 4 weeks left and I will be returning to Canada for a short visit. It will be nice to see family and friends. That means that 6 months of my life has passed. It seems like I only arrived yesterday. There are many things to love about a persons home country, however, there is also a lot to say about a
place that offers thing that most people dream of. Part of that dream is what I described in the beginning of this narrative. Yes……. Perhaps I am living the dream….. Anyone want to join me?