Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Conversation with an American - Part 3

Paul went back to the Philippines. For ten straight months this 43 year old American had to put up with things that no man should put up with. He had snakes drop from the ceiling while he slept. Crazed turkeys trapped him in the bathroom. Many of his friends ended up on the dinner table. And oh yeah, after nearly a year of waiting, his Filipina wife still do not have her immigrant visa.

"I don't ever want to see rice again for as long as I live" Paul laments. "I miss my crappy American diet. I miss my barbecue chicken cooked over the black jack oak. I miss my big refrigerator with thousands of snacks. I miss my cable TV, my aircon, the toilet that flush, all my appliances that work." The biggest assault on his sanity, however, was the lack of anything to do.

He was so bored that he became close to many of the village animals, spending hours watching their silly antics and conversing with them. But the problem with this was that many of his friends ended up on the dinner table, which upset Paul greatly. And it was not that he was constantly losing his friends to the evening's menu, it was the way he lost them.

Being an admittedly spoiled Westerner, Paul's idea of grabbing meat was to go to the refrigerator section of the supermarket and make a neatly packaged selection. In Tapaz, however, if meat was on the menu for dinner, they would just grab a turkey or a chicken from the backyard and slit it's throat right in the kitchen sink. Paul's favorite turkey used to chase people around the house and sometimes trap them in the bathroom. Because of their high-brow attitude, Paul named one turkey Tough Guy and the other Tough Guy Jr. Upon their gastronomical demise, however, Paul became rather unhappy.

In Manila, he thought they were ready for the climactic interview with the official of the US embassy who wields the ever elusive visa stamp. The embassy, however, threw him another curve when it suddenly asked for a Singapore police clearance for his wife. "I'm very frustrated with the process," Paul said. "The length, the time, the expense. And after you go through the entire process, they can still say no. In Cuba, they were handing out US passport to any Cuban that wanted one," Paul said frustratingly. "I am an American citizen, this is my wife. It's absolutely ridiculous!"

The ordeal had it's bright side though. "I liked the fact that it has been a massive learning experience in my lifetime, something most American will not experience. They don't realize how hard life is here. I respect these people very much. But I'll admit, I'm a spoiled Westerner. I like not having to worry about spider crawling into bed with me. I like not having to slaughter animals in the kitchen sink."

But at least Paul Burns now has a loving wife and a lifetime full of stories. Thanks to an old magazine and a $2 gamble.

The end.


Cal said...

Have I missed something??? Did she get the visa?? Cal xx

Cal said...

Please visit my blog for your 'no conditions attached' award. ;>
Cal x

Sid Brechin said...

Glad the story had a happy ending. I hope Vic Vic is happy in Florida. I used to go there often. In fact during the winter because of the snow birds ( Canadians who have winter homes there ) We actually outnumber the Americans! I didn't believe it but it is the US govt that keeps the statistics on it.

As to what Paul had to put up with I went through much worse in the Army and loved it. It sounds like the villagers were overprotective and didn't want him working. He could have been helping with digging ditches roofing huts, digging wells building solar water collectors. ( all things I learnt in the Army so if Paul hadn't served he may not have had the know how )

Odette said...

She might, as soon as she submitted her Singapore police clearance. Both are now in Manila, renting a unit here awaiting for their papers. He doesn't want to go back in the US w/o her, but he doesn't want to stay in Tapaz either.

Sid Brechin said...

As they are married he can remain legally providing they leave for a day once a year and return together when he can get his visa stamped for another year. She must be with him to do that however. ( I have been checking out your visa laws ). The can't enter the States together until they have been married at least six months. ( That even applies to Canadians I had it happen to a friend and he had sold his home intending to live one they had bought in the states. I ended up putting them up for the six months )

Tracey said...

Lovely story, but I thought it would be somehow connected to you!!!!!!!!xxx

Cal said...

Oh do keep us posted Odette about whether they get clearance.

Cal xxx

jen said...

Enjoyed the story Odette!! Is the header photo a picture of her??


Tracey said...

Come and get your award...xxx

Mimi said...

Hey Odette! Great stor, and thnks for the happ ending!I hope that they'll stay happily married for the rest of their lives. I know how hard it can be to be away from what you're used to. Vic Vic is going to have a culture shock when she moves to Florida. Hopefull, she'll find new American and Filipino friends there.
Hugs, Mimi


What a really nice story. I hope she gets her visa!! My ex and I were both in a country that wasnt ours. He struggled wanting the Western freedoms but resorting to his own culture also. I thought at one stage it was the country I had a problem with, the long winters were depressing at times. But it wasnt the country that was the issue at all, it was the marriage.
I hope he can bypass the homesickness and refocus on his love :)
please follow this story up in the future!!
By the way... I tagged ye yesterday
Much Love

Sid Brechin said...

Long winters. Sounds like you were here or in Russia Kirst.

I once got caught in a snowstorm for 3 days in August which is the hottest month here. I should qualify that and tell you I was at over 10,000 feet above sea level at the time on a Glacier Exploration.

When we got back to base camp they had only had a light rain.

One thing would interest me about NZ is your mountains.

Angry American said...

Snakes don't bother me much. But, just the thought of those man eating tropical insects scare the hell out of me. That's going to be my biggest adjustment.

Even so, I'd still love to live in a slightly modernized nipa hut. I'm a city boy who's always wanted to be closer to nature. I've had enough of city life.

Odette said...

thank you for the award, Tracey!
hugging you once, twice, thrice, and real tight!!!


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