“Don’t take your valuables with you when you are out of the hotel,” our Chinese host in Johannesburg advised. “But also don’t leave your valuables in the hotel room either.”
“You need to stop if a police asks you to stop,” our host continues. “However, many of them are pretending to be police so try not to stop either.”
The more we hear, the more confused we were.
It was our first day in South Africa and our kind Chinese host treated us to an authentic Sichuan Chinese restaurant which we were craving. During the meal, he shared his horror stories and advised us how to avoid being robbed in Johannesburg, one of the world’s most dangerous cities in the world.
“Here, people don’t ask if you have been robbed before. They ask how many times you have been robbed. When the Black see Chinese, it is as if they see the letters “ATM” written on your forehead. So carry some cash but don’t put all your cash in one pocket. Put some cash in each pocket so when the Blacks pull their gun and ask for money, just show them the money in one pocket. “
The more we heard, the more afraid we became. I was especially surprised to see every single house in even nice suburban areas have high electric fences and barred windows. In Los Angeles, I only see this in the worse crime area in the city center.
Camino calls, Camino provides. Life calls, life provides. God calls, God provides.
“Who would like to come to the pulpit to read the scripture for the mass?” a gentle-voice priest gestured.
“I would,” I raised my hand and I read Paul’s letter to the Galatians.
It was the day after our 5-day pilgrim’s walk to Santiago or better known as the Camino de Santiago. After attending several masses in Spanish which we couldn’t understand, we looked forward to attending a mass in English to end our pilgrimage. To our surprise, there were only the three of us, Annie, Joani, and I. Instead of a Spanish priest, in front of us stood Father Manuel, a priest from the Philippines.
Last night I packed up the tent in my Grandma’s backyard. It may seem like a simple task, but the stories and meanings behind this task was very heart breaking and emotional. Packing up the tent felt like breaking a fragile porcelain bowl filled with precious droplets of memories—memories of my family and our one-year journey together. Nostalgia and sorrow flooded over me like a tidal wave crashing into an earthen wall. Why does packing up this tent bring me so much pain? Why is this empty space covered by a tarp have so much meaning and significance? Continue reading Packing Up the Tent→