Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Back in North America

After the holiday rush of choral performances, I found myself on board another PAL flight to California on Christmas eve. (Got the chance to meet Ryan Reyes who wears Sta. Lucia's jersey #10. He wanted my aisle seat. Lucky for him, the row before us was empty so he got an aisle seat as well.)

For this trip, I landed in Los Angeles where I was warmly received by old friends - Paul Concepcion, Ed & Annie Nepomuceno, Gelo & Evic Francisco, Emman Miranda and Dino Padallan. Jolu, Joyce Frias-Talampas' son, fetched me from the airport as the PCS-LA gang was performing at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for the LA County Holiday Celebration at the time of my arrival. We met up for dinner at Full House in Chinatown.

We split up afterwards as each one went on to one or two more singing gig/s. Paul and I went to St. Genevieve where Paul accompanied Gelo's choir for one song. Jay-R was there and he rendered a R&B version of "O Holy Night" with an a cappella back-up. Gelo went on to another gig while Paul and I waited for him with Evic and the kids (Quim and Gabriel) at their house.

We were not able to wait for Gelo. Paul brought me to Van Nuys where Ed and Dino were already waiting. Once we arrived there, I checked in online for my Northwest flight to Winnipeg via Minneapolis / St. Paul. Ed served hot chocolate. Annie arrived later and we watched SNL reruns featuring James Franco. At 4 am, after taking some photos, Dino dropped me off at the airport.

The Delta queue was so long it extended up to the curbside. Good thing I insulated myself well. Had to wait in line outside for about half an hour. The check-in took some time as the staff accommodated those flying at 6am. I had problems with my non-machine-readable passport so I was passed on from one counter to another. Patience was important considering I have not slept decently for several days and I still had two more flights to go.

Flight to Minneapolis / St. Paul was uneventful until landing time. I was asleep the entire flight and woke up only when the pilot announced the approach. (I missed the complimentary peanuts and beverage!) I think there was a crosswind at the airport right before touchdown. The plane went up and down I feared it was the end of my life! Well, apparently not.

The Lindbergh airport in the Twin Cities is huge. Had to take travelators and trams from one terminal to another. Robin Zarate emailed earlier that he has left Northwest so he has lost access to the airport. Would have been good to meet up for lunch with him, Agnes and their daughter Lizzie at the airport like we did a year or two ago. So, in solitude, I stuffed the huge Arby's roast beef sandwich into my mouth. I was so full I just kept in my bag the salad that I also ordered.

Boarding for the small plane to Winnipeg was on time. However, our departure was delayed for half-an-hour. I was seated beside noisy and smelly kids. Good thing their dad moved them to another row. And this time, I got my complimentary peanuts and beverage!

As was yesterday, going through immigration and customs were a breeze. It really pays to be honest. Miggy was there to greet me as soon as I entered the baggage claim area. He ran to meet me and I hugged him tight. Glad to be with family again. Later in the evening, our relatives gathered at home for Christmas dinner featuring lechon and Auntie Cela's traditional arroz valenciana. Debuting that night is 2-week old Daniel Stephen, the latest addition to our family.

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