Friday, July 11, 2008

The Kalesa Tale...

So, first of all, APOLOGIES! We leave you with some cool pictures and a dangling reference to a "kalesa from hella" and then you don't hear from us in days. It might have been a tactic to build the suspense (what's a 'kalesa' and why was it hell?) or perhaps the fact that we've both been too busy/exhausted to blog. Whichever case, it all happened last Sunday, our day off... It's a tale of excitement, tension, terror and intoxication.

Upon my leaving the bathroom of the National Museum of the Fillipino People, Jefferson (who's been waiting for me) suggests, "why don't we take a kalesa ride around the park? It's only 30 pesos and the guy is waiting for us over there." Note: a kalesa is a two wheeled horse carriage with barely enough room for two passengers in the back and a driver in front. So I say, "sure, who not." We squeeze into the thing, which is driven by the scraggliest looking horse I've ever seen (named Rambo) and we're off. Only he doesn't take us in the direction of the Park. No, we are heading for the open road, which in this case, means a busy street with cars, jeepneys and buses whizzing by. We find out that we are now on "Reynaldo's Tour" with the realization that this is going to be much more than we had originally realized. Me: "Are you sure he said 30 pesos??" Jefferson: "Maybe he meant 30 minutes. Let's just be flexible and see what happens." Now, he's pointing out sites to us... "Look there's George Washington statue!... Where you from?!... This is important church!.. I don't like Japanese- they kill my father in War... (makes bayonet slaying motions)".

As we are heading down a small hill on a cobblestoned road and heading for an underpass, an incoming jeepney (a jeep re-fashioned to be used as public transportation) comes right at us. This startles the horse, who rears, thus directing the carriage wheel into the side of the wall, which causes the carriage to FALL OVER... with all of us in it! Yes, we are in our first ACCIDENT in Asia and my adrenaline is surging. Jefferson and I peel ourselves out of the carriage (he was on the bottom and cushioned my fall.. Thanks, Jeff) and Reynaldo is shaken but trying to free poor Rambo who is somewhat tangled in his harness. To speed my story along, after we've secured the horse, righted the carriage (with the help of passerbys), checked for damage, it is decided... that we should just CONTINUE THE TOUR. Basically, Reynaldo is feeling so bad about it, and Jefferson and I are trying to lighten the gravity of the situation, that we find ourselves back on the darn thing. (Granted, we now have horse manure on us, a few bruises, I'm shaking... but we suspect that we are the biggest catches in Reynaldo's net and we can't deny him his tourist dollars.)

To make it up to us, Reynaldo now drives us through the back streets of Manila. There is much to be told about what we are seeing... lots of homeless people, markets, everyone smiling at us, laughing children ("Give me 5p!"), colorful neighborhoods. Every time we stop to take a picture, Reynaldo somehow produces cold beers and INSISTS that we drink them! Basically, he runs into any cantina nearby when we are not looking and buys the beers. He says, "I give you these beers. I feel such shame about the accident." He's drinking the beers too, probably to drown the great shame. He says, "Do you have children? If you want to adopt, I can arrange it. I have good friend at the orphanage. You can have baby in 2 weeks. But do not tell. It is a secret."

The entire tour ends up taking THREE HOURS. We decide to end the madness by instructing him that we must be at the Bay by sunset. Now it's pay the piper time. We realize this undeniable fact: we had experienced a bonafide adventure and seen parts of the city that we never would have discovered on our own. Reynaldo says, "You can give me $100." We laugh and then he laughs. Jefferson gives him the equivalent of $50 dollars which is still an exorbitant amount... but it feels right to us. Plus, we're drunk. Reynaldo is quite pleased with the exchange (especially since he almost killed us) and waves merrily at us as he clip clops away.

[My only sad feeling was about Rambo. I wondered about him the whole trip. Was it bad for us to take the ride with such a pitiful creature? Would it change his lot in any way, whether we did or didn't ride the kalesa?...hmmm, hard one...]

Oh yeah.. and one more thing... this week we recorded the original sountrack album for Rodger and Hammerstein's CINDERELLA. As in the VERY FIRST ONE... the other recordings were from tv specials and there hasn't been an offical soundtrack... until NOW. It will be released internationally in September by Sony BMG and in Asia earlier than that. In my next blog I will comment about the recording studio experience, share thoughts on Lea "One Take Wonder" Salonga, and fill you in on other events and happenings!

Much love,

1 comment:

mscook said...

Julia and Jefferson, your experiences with the Kasela accident reminds me of a simular experience I had in Turkey. The word there was if you were in an accident, it was always your fault and you were financially resposible for damages. If you had not hired the horse cart, you would not have been there. So, when we were in an accident in Turkey, another guy and I fled the sceen immediately after throwing money for the tour at the driver. We "beat feet!" Dad