This morning Colorado vehicles have a blanket of white and sun is beginning to melt the blanket.
The United States has launched cruise missiles into a Syrian military base claiming chemical warfare was used against other combatants in an ongoing proxy war. Russia is moving a carrier to the gulf and adding missile defense systems to Syrian military installations. North Korea will start a nuclear war if attacked by the U.S.. American troops are moved to Poland. The stock market continues to go up as earnings and U.S. GDP goes down. Fifty million Americans are on food stamps. Homeless vets hold signs on corners asking for loose change.
This snow is a message that the Philippines are in my rear view mirror.
In Mogpog, I didn’t worry about tomorrow, think about World War 3, or dream about fire cutting through big cities where apocalyptic wandering lone wolfs fight each other for survival.
In Mogpog, we sat next to a little fan on the front porch and watched lazy clouds hopscotch across the sky.
On the back of the airplane seat, in front of me, is an entertainment console with music, movies, diversions.. If I hit a flight tracker button on the console, I can see the path of my current flight in midair, wind speed, plane speed, miles traveled, miles to go.
Checking the flight tracker has become a flight habit of mine.
A wise person would divide the number of miles traveled by the number of food servings and know that by the third trip down the aisle with the beverage cart, the plane is almost done with its flight.
The worst thing about this flight is that I wave at Denver as we fly over, and I have to board a plane in Minneapolis to fly back to Denver which adds hours to my journey.
These days there is no such thing as a crow flying straight and trips look more like stock market charts than straight lines.
One of these days, Scotttreks will fly around the world without having to backtrack, take direct flights, and eat caviar in First Class.
There will be plenty of legroom and all stewardesses will be knockouts, hired for their anatomy.
Thinking about good days ahead, in a crumbling world, is another in flight habit of mine.
Scotttreks has become my own personal flight tracker.
Some tunnels are rabbit holes, some filled with pack rat vaults. Some tunnels are underground, dark and womb like, leading to gold and silver leprechaun caches. Some tunnels are constructed with giant boring machines, go under seas and through mountains to deep underground cities. Through some tunnels we enter this world, and through others, leave.
This horizontal escalator is a metaphor of our times. Pampered, we need to walk, but aren’t forced to.
Two girls pass, in a hurry. One lifts her phone and takes a selfie.
This gleaming tunnel of concrete, glass and steel moves us steadily forwards. On a moving treadmill, we go where we are told,are put where we are wanted, are entered on flight lists, and ring up charges on our credit cards in a credit world.
We live in a rabbit hole and, like Alice, trying to find real is something we can’t exactly put our finger on.
This flat escalator, if I stayed on it, could roll me right off the edge of the Earth.
” Watch out for the stone, ” the chef says, as he slides my meal across the counter. ” It is very hot. ”
I take my tray and look at the stone, look at the meat. The hot stone is used to cook slices of steak, as I like them. By placing each slice on the hot stone, I can cook it rare, medium, done, or well done.
I’m sure this cooking technique has been around for thousands of years in Japan, but it is new to a New Mexico cowpoke.
The whole process makes it twice as long to finish my dinner as it usually does but I enjoy my food more.
Hearing meat sizzle on the stone reminds me of backyard barbecues and my Dad’s famous barbecue ribs.
Memories are with us, just under the surface of the water.. It just takes the right trigger to bring them to the stage.
The first trains were big, lumbering, uncomfortable, dark,slow, and were powered by men shoveling coal to heat water and using steam to turn gears and wheels. Train tracks were wide and it took the help of thousands of Chinese immigrants to lay track from one side of the American continent to the other.
Modern trains are sleeker, well lit, aerodynamic, fast.
Waiting for the Number 8 in the Narita Airport,we commuters stand at our proper pick up spot.
When my train stops and a door opens, I step inside and take a seat and hope I haven’t gotten on the wrong slow boat to China. As we make more stops,new passengers, that have no seat, grab rings hanging from the ceiling with one hand, hold their purse or suitcase fikrmly with the other.
Younger passengers play video games, older passengers read newspapers. People talk in Japanese and, to them, I am an American tourist making a connection, which is true.
The ride from one airport to the other is two hours through Japan countryside and cities.
The streets and countryside are well swept, the architecture a mix of old Japan and new.
We whisk past multistory, modern, steel and glass apartments as well as ancient Japanese temples that have survived modern destructive wars with unimaginable consequences.
My commute reaches the Haneda Airport and I grab my carry on bag. I have four hours to get from one airport to the other, get my boarding passes, get to the right gate, and two and a half of those hours are already eaten up in transit.
Japan has captured my attention.
I want to take Godzilla to a Sumo wrestling tournament, but I’m not about to buy him a drink.
The nautical miles click by and Marinduque disappears.
The Philippines move into memories, that funky place where facts get forgotten, emotions get heightened, truth gets obscured, and we turn experiences into what we want them to be instead of what they really were.
Montenegro lines will get us safely across this pond and when we dock it is still a four hour bus ride to Manilla, a throbbing, bustling metropolis that even locals want to avoid.
Tomorrow, early, I take a plane to Japan, then Minneapolis,then finally to Denver. Time zones will be barreled through like a NFL lineman going after a quarterback,
There is a saying that ” Wherever you go, There you are. ”
There is another equally powerful old saying that, ” Travel changes you. ”
The water is still and opaque.There are islands we pass that wave at us and seabirds glide above us, their extended wings riding the drafts. A sailor takes a last puff on his cigarette and flips it overboard with his forefinger. In the sitting area a kung fu movie is kicking and those that can sleep, do. I hug Alma and say my goodbyes.
Travelling by boat is not fast but I have learned not to be in a hurry.
On this day, Gwen graduates from kindergarten at a local community center.
It takes some urging to go on stage with her aunt April, but she walks on and is recognized.There are recitations by some of the kids, comments by teacher’s and invited guests, a small lunch afterwards.
We have no crystal balls to know the future.
We hope she has many graduation ceremonies, has dreams and achieves them, takes advantage of her abilities, compensates for her shortcomings, finds people that love her.
By the end of the ceremony, balloons are broken or fly up and away into the coconut trees.
Proud parents and relatives walk home with one hand on a paper certificate, the other holding the hand of their future.
Albert and Bella are two of five dogs at the house.
There are also two cats plus a new Kitty who joined the wrecking crew last night, abandoned in the road and following us home. Next morning it is curled up against one of the dogs on the front step, unaware that cats and dogs are supposed to be enemies, not friends.
There is a horse tied up in the next door vacant lot, two roosters, three hens and nineteen eggs hatching. There are eight pigs, lizards climbing on walls, two new parakeets. A cow grazes close by. Fish are in the river, pigeons are in coconut trees, a spider web is growing where the trunks of two trees meet by a back fence.
Yesterday we saw a Komoto Dragon eyeing the chicken coop but he disappeared when Alma threw a a stone at him that just missed.
This is, Alma says, ” my Gilligan’s Island. ”
I haven’t seen Gilligan but I expect he is hiding out in the hills living off his Social Security, smoking weed for aching joints, and trying to get organized.
As Sunday afternoon grows close, the roosters crowing takes on more urgency. On Sunday afternoons, a stadium in a local neighborhood opens for business and men pay for permits to fight their birds.
The fighting cage in the middle of this stadium looks small from the bleachers and the birds inside it are hard to see.However, you can tell how the match is going by listening to the rise and fall of waves of sound. Sound rumbles at the beginning of the fight as birds are primed and hawkers take bets. It crescendos during the match, if it is a good one. At the end, there is almost a silence as the referee picks up a dead rooster who has lost and presents it to the owner of the winning rooster to take home and put in his cooking pot.
Fighting is both human and animal history.
Martial Arts cage fighting makes the old Friday night television boxing matches look tame. Gladiators in Roman extravaganzas bled in the sand and crowds watched the Emperor’s thumb to see if a man lived or died. David and Goliath was a spectacular Biblical fight.
This early round is over quickly and a new pair of animal contestants and their human trainers enter the ring.
I bet a thousand pesos and lose, but next week will be different.
This event, for me, isn’t entertaining.
Betting on life or death isn’t a wager I like to make, especially when animals are involved.