Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Visitors from Canada

We recently had the opportunity to have Kerri's parents come and visit us from Canada.  They arrived on February 24 in Davao, after a pretty long couple of days of travel.

While the travel went quite smoothly for them it was not without some drama.  They had booked their flights from Calgary through Manila, but had not included the Manila-Davao leg in their original booking.  It was considerably cheaper to book only through to Manila.  I booked regional flights for them from Manila to Davao on one of the smaller local airlines instead, which was quite inexpensive.  I booked the tickets in their names and paid for them on my credit card, for which they would reimburse me.  The bookings were all good, and everything seemed to to going smoothly.  We planned to pick them up at the airport at around 6AM on the 24th, so we went to bed a bit earlier the night before.

At around 1AM my phone started to ring.  I immediately grabbed it and answered with my head in a fog from being woken from a deep sleep.  The person on the other end identified herself as being from the regional airline that I had booked with, and she told me that Kerri's parents were trying to check in or their flight from Manila to Davao, but they needed me to confirm my identity and credit card number for them.  Right away I was wary, thinking it must be some kind of a scam, so I asked to speak to Kerri's dad.  He got on the phone and confirmed that it was legit, so I talked to the lady again.  She wanted me to fax a copy of my identification and credit card to her.  That would have been fine if I had a fax machine.

So she suggested that I take a picture of the cards and email it to her.  I agreed that this would work, so she hung up, telling me she would call back when she received the picture.  I got up, grabbed the camera, and fired up my computer.  I took a picture and went to send it, but no internet.  So I went over and reset the modem, which is a fairly common requirement here.  I waited for it to come online.  And waited. And waited some more.  I tried resetting it again.  No luck.  I tried again.  I think I tried it about 10 times in the next 15 minutes, but it simply would not work.  Of all the times for our internet to be down!

In my just-got-woken-from-a-really-good-sleep-to-the-sound-of-my-cell-phone-ringing fog I hadn't bothered to get her phone number to be able to call, and I couldn't exactly look it up.  So I tried calling the number which had shown up on my phone, which ended up connecting me to a fax machine (don't you love that sound in your ear?).  So I had no way to contact them, and just had to wait.

Eventually I received another call.  The lady explained that she hadn't received an email from me.  I calmly explained to her that my internet was not working, but that seeing as how the names on the booking matched the names of the passports of the people who were standing right in front of her could she not just let them through.  I offered to give my credit card number over the phone.  I figured this would be a reasonable compromise.  She had to check with her manager, so she hung up (after I got her contact information).  She called back in a couple of minutes, saying that the manager agreed to do it that way.  I gave her the number over the phone, and as easy as that everything was okay and Kerri's parents were free to check in, and Kerri and I could try to salvage a few more hours of sleep.  (Seemed like a pretty long process for such a simple solution, but what can you do?  I read the fine print later on the flight booking and it did actually say that Kerri's parents did need to have a copy of my ID and credit card.  Moral of the story: READ THE FINE PRINT ALWAYS!)

So they got here early in the morning on the 24, after leaving the sub-freezing temperatures of Calgary, to arrive to one of the hottest days we have had for a while.  We were all very excited to see them, and a few tears were shed when they finally stepped out of the airport and we saw them coming.  We headed back to our house and showed them around.  We relaxed for that day, to give them a chance to rest and get used to the heat.  Then it was pretty much non-stop from then.

Over the next two weeks we kept them pretty busy.  The kids had a list of things that they wanted to do with Nanny and Poppy while they were here, and there was a lot on the list.  We took them swimming at the local pool, to the beach on three separate days (to two different resorts), to Jack's Ridge, to the Crocodile Park, bowling, fishing at another resort, and on the zipline at Outland Adventure.  In addition to all that we went to lots of different malls and stores.

It was an eye-opening experience for them; to see life here, to see the poverty and the struggles of the average person, to see the way people drive, to try new foods (including durian!), to experience the sights, smells and sounds of Davao City.  It was great for us as well to be able to experience the newness and fascination with the culture through their eyes.  For us it has simply become life here, and many of the things which were new and exciting and fascinating when we first arrived here have become normal.  I guess that is what happens after a period of time.

So they saw lots, experienced lots, and then headed home.  We certainly enjoyed having them here, but now I need to take a couple of weeks to recover from being a tour guide!