Sunday morning, November 18
By now, I’m firmly in Greek hero mode. In a Medusa-like way, I note that after I’ve cut one monster’s head off another immediately arises. I travel from home (in the country) to the airport every six weeks or so, and have done so without problem for years. This is Sunday at 5am and I can’t call for a taxi as my home phone is suddenly not working; can’t use my mobile as it’s been switched to satellite and will only work in the Philippines. There are no passing taxis and I wonder if I am going to be the one to sabotage this trip by not turning up to the flight.From here on in every delay becomes stressful as I know that we can’t allow these vaccines to warm up. I wake up a neighbour and get help.
From experience, I know how difficult customs can be with medication. Luckily, we have been invited by the head of Tacloban risk management, and clutch a letter inviting us. Big sigh of relief.
We now get a taxi to the US Villamura air base where we’ve been assured the ”help desk” will get us on a flight, as they have our name on a priority list. Of course, it turns out there is no help desk and no one in this US Marine dominated area have heard of us. There are very few flights going out that day, as the Phillippine president is visiting Tacloban, and the airport has been closed! Nick’s and my stress starts to build again. In this small lounge there are three Spanish firefighters who have been waiting since 2 am to get on a flight so they can install water filtration equipment plus two journalists.
We again show our Holy Grail letter. A rugged US Delta force general interviews me about my activities and assesses us. Nick is ex-army (SAS), and said (I thought rather tactfully) to me on arrival, “Best leave it to us moustache-types to sort this out Susan”.
So I left it to him gleaning information from the journalists who had already been there. Nick and I both thought it strange that there weren’t any medical aid people in this lounge. Seems like it was true what Buddy said about lack of aid.
The American attaché stepped in, saying that Philippine-organized aid had to get priority. Before we knew it we were on the next flight, squatting on the floor of the plane with a lot of bags of canned food and a WHO lady who was going go to Tacloban to ”assess the situation”.