After lunch we traveled across town to pick up the course certificates which DHL had delivered to our new hotel on the other side of town. We had not quite planned it that way but one of the signatories, staying in the old hotel, is travelling tomorrow early in the morning and needs to sign them tonight. This required a 3 hour round trip which took up the entire afternoon. When the day is over and we are settled in our posh rooms we will have spent more than four hours motoring across town.

The ride to our new hotel seemed interminable but at least we got to see what Manila looks like. Each time we saw a clump of posh high rises we perked up hoping we had reached our destination. But there are many clumps like that, alternated by low rise popular neighborhoods. Sometimes it felt like we were going around in circles, alternating posh and not posh. We were looking for a sign of the ocean but only occasionally seeing dirty and water-hyacinth-infested waterways.

My colleague M gets car sick in stop and go traffic – an occupational hazard in our line of work. She has to have a carbonated drink handy, and ideally a waterproof baggie. She held her head up high staring at points in front of us while I babbled along telling her all the great sights she missed on the side.

Back at our old hotel, while M took care of very slowly conducted financial transactions, I met with a formidable disability rights advocate who rolled herself into the restaurant with the same determination that she has apparently used to get to her present senior government position. This was supposed to be a brief meeting about next week’s program which she will open and close. She kept us spellbound for hours about how she got to her current place in the hierarchy in spite of all the obstacles put in her way. Later we learned that her teenage daughter had been waiting in the car outside. I could just hear her say, “mo-om, what took you so long!” followed by a long face for the rest of the ride home.

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