54. We finally moved out of our apartment and comfortably settled in the Mabuhay Hotel. Here we had air conditioning, hot water, a bathtub, and TV, none of which we had at the apartment. Our only complaint was that we had no window, making the room just as dark at 7:00 a.m. as at midnight. But we managed to wake up okay every morning, and we certainly enjoyed the luxuries.
We delivered our trunks to a freight company and knew they would be held up in San Francisco while an agent cleared them through customs. Peggy and I between us were allowed $200 worth of goods. The original value of our goods was something like $240, but most of the items were used, which reduced their value considerably. Besides, Peace Corps Volunteer’s trunks were rarely opened by customs officials, so we weren’t expecting trouble. I had to open one of the trunks at the freight company because they were 8 lbs. overweight. In the process I dropped two keys into the trunk and was unable to locate them. So when the trucks reached home someone had to pick, saw, or break the locks to open them.
My summer classes were still going on. Although I wasn’t able to execute many of the movements well, I really enjoyed my mime class under the German mime artist. Then the three classes I was teaching and our Peace Corps service ended on the same day. The rough thing was that everyone in my directing class (something like 25 or 30 students) was supposed to direct some sort of production, which meant we saw a lot of short, student-directed plays during those last two weekends. Our plans hadn’t changed and wouldn’t. We had our plane tickets. We would fly to Singapore and from there decide where to head next.
55. When we were no longer Peace Corps Volunteers but still in the Philippines, we joined the ranks of the unemployed, or maybe just of the free. Suddenly we had no responsibilities, so we planned to take advantage of it.
Since our flight didn’t leave right away, we decided to travel in the Philippines for a few days. We left Manila and spent the night in a small town (Lucina City, Quezon), a three hour bus ride south, and the next day traveled south again for about seven more hours to a small mining town. There we stayed with some friends (Filipinos) whom we met at Easter.
Up until then we had gotten to see a foreign country and its people under the protective wing of the Peace Corps. For Peggy it was somewhat frightening to about to take off for a new country (I’m not sure I thought about it), this time on our own. In Singapore there wouldn’t be anyone to meet us at the airport, to help us clear customs and change some of our money to the local currency, and to find a cheap but safe place stay. Peggy thought she would enjoy traveling … our vacations in the Philippines were some of the highlights of our stay; but it was going to require more courage from then on.
We still didn’t know where we were heading after Singapore. We had two likely choices: either traveling up through Malaysia to Bangkok or traveling in Indonesia. We planned to do both, but we weren’t sure which would follow Singapore. And I still had my eyes on Borneo.
Wherever we went, it would have to be done cheaply. We knew we could work in some countries, but not in either Indonesia or Malaysia. We were starting out with $1500, which was the money the Peace Corps gave us for our plane tickets home plus 1/3 of the money that the Peace Corps put away for us in the States every month. The other 2/3 went into a bank account in Texas. So if we were careful with our money and worked whenever we got an opportunity, we thought we could keep going for as long as we wanted to be vagabonds.
Other countries pretty definitely on our itinerary included Australia, New Zealand, and Korea, in all of which I knew people in drama. We also planed to get to Japan eventually because it was a country with a well-developed theater tradition. Although language would be a definite problem for us in Japan, we thought that we’d probably stay there for a long time. We told our families that as soon as we decided where we were heading after Singapore, we’d let them know. And if we decided to stay in Singapore, we’d let them know that too.
Meanwhile Peggy received some pictures of her family. Everyone certainly looked tall to us. And one brother looked more like the other than he used to. There wasn’t a picture of Peggy’s mother because she was the photographer.
Peggy and Randy Ford