By Jalene B.D.S.
I’ve been there at the place that some “kabayans” (Filipinos) called as the “Dead Island.” I’ve heard quite some frightening But for me, it’s not. The Lord turned it the other way around. That is where I encountered Him again, where I felt so alive, where I felt freedom, where I learned to interact, where I found camaraderie amongst strangers.
BEFORE I LEFT DUBAI
My aunt, who’s been in Kish island before, gave me quick information about the lifestyle, dress code, what-to-do and what-not-to-do while staying there. Mama hasn’t been there so she have nothing to say about it.
WHAT I SHOULD DO
- Do not trust anyone. . . NEVER, EVER!
- Always keep your belongings and money with you wherever you go
- Don’t let anyone know that you are waiting for your EMPLOYMENT visa
- Don’t be too friendly with the people there, not even with the locals
- Stay at Farabi Hotel, don’t book a room that are occupied by people who’s been there before us.
- Don’t join KISH tour
- Always put your hijab on before going out, never take it off
- Don’t go out in the evening though that’s when the time that malls, stores, and restaurants started to open
- Never ride a taxi alone
- Find Kish Christian Fellowship
The only thing I did are #5, #9, and #10. I almost forgot the #9 directive, because I was left by the shuttle going to the airport on the day of my comeback to Dubai. I attended Kish fellowship after I booked my return ticket that day, everything’s in a hurry that time. I was about to ride the taxi alone to go to the airport but my sisters in Christ didn’t allowed me.
EXPLORING KISH ISLAND
REFLECTIONS OF AN EXPAT
I was quite irate of Mama when we were packing the things I will bring, she put many clothes on my bag, put many foods on my trolley as if I’m going to a vacation to that dreaded place (which I thought back then). I reiterated, I was promised by my employer that it will only take 1 day to process my employment visa. I ended up bringing just a pair of dress, a pair of shawl (which I will use as a veil to cover my head and chest), 2 pairs of undergarments, and foods good for a day only. She told me “I need to be prepared just in case.” I uttered to myself “Just in case?!” It’s unacceptable! I don’t wanted to stay there for more than a day! So, I texted the wife of the CEO of the company I worked for to let her know how restless I am that I’ll exit Dubai to Kish Island. She promised they’ll do it as quickly as they can. I’ll just spend a night there. But that 1 day turned to 10 days (January 31, 2015 – February 10, 2015)!
DAY 1. Took an afternoon flight going to Kish Island. Mama took a day off from work to accompany me to the airport. At the airport Mama befriended a fellow Filipina, Marinela whom I later called “Ate (elder sister) Mari,” going to Kish as well. We had quite a long talk while waiting for our flight. Before we left, Mama and Ate Mari’s big bro emphasized this directive “Walang iwanan. Kahit anong mangyari sa Farabi Hotel lang kayo at huwag kayong maghihiwalay!” (Don’t abandon each other. Stay at Farabi Hotel no matter what and don’t leave each other!). We booked our stay at Farabi Hotel, and because we’re too tired we just accepted the room where there are occupants already. We knocked, no one opened the door. I put my ear against the door and heard people mumbling to each other but I can’t spell out what they’re saying. After a few minutes, the door opened. First thing I noticed why is there a bed blocking the door that even after we entered they put it back? Our beds are near the window, quite a creepy sight, felt like any moment someone will take you by the window. The occupants offered us to move on their rooms but we’ll be separated. I stayed. We went to the computer shop and I emailed my employer. I went back, they did small talks but Ate Mari seems aloof, I just answered them what they asked for. They asked me what type of employment visa I’m waiting for, I kind of answered in between “I’m not quite sure,” and that’s it. When evening came, they asked us if we wanted to go with them, stroll outside. I was kind of wanting to go but Ate Mari stand firm and said she’ll stay. So I stayed.
DAY 2. I woke up the next morning, Ate Mari seems comfortable now with the occupants. She’s talking to them now, so I joined them and observed. They introduced themselves and how long they’ve been there: Juliet, Rialyn, Jing, Maricris, Shieda, and Cindy. In the afternoon we heard a man knocking on the doors offering Kish Tour. They opened the door and enlisted themselves. Ate Mari and I joined the Kish Tour. It only costs us 10 AED = 120 PHP. After the tour, we went to buy our food supplies. I went to the computer shop to email my employer multiple times asking for the status of my visa. Still no response. I’m quite getting pissed off, regretting that I rejected the first job offer I got with comfortable salary, accommodations, and visa processing. Shieda went home.
DAY 3. I’m getting familiar with the occupants. There’s 2 people who joined our room – Ate Amy and I forgot the name of the old lady. I was quite intrigued with Ate Amy. She’s so friendly and bright and she’s the only person I saw who’s very happy to be there as if she’s been here before! She shared about Jesus and the Gospel with everyone of us. Most of them cried and opened up their lives. I felt a pang in my chest because I never imagined I’ll encountered Jesus again in this remote place. The reason why I left the country it’s not solely because I’m not happy with my career and my life. But because I wanted to forget God and the people He put in my life. We ate lunch at Venus Hotel because they say foods there are yummy. We saw government officers there processing the registration of oversea’s voter’s ID, we process registration. When it’s my turn, the officer was quite surprise, he uttered “Dapat ang mga bata nasa bahay naglalaro. Ano ginagawa mo dito? Ilang taon ka na ba?” I have nothing to say. Based on experience, once I told them I’m “this” age. They always second guess. I’m 21 and I’m a young adult.
VISA STATUS: Waiting for approval
DAY 4. We’re quite bored. We went outside and take a stroll at the beach. ALL of us. Then we decided to join the boat ride tour where there are glasses below deck so you can see marine life.
VISA STATUS: Pending for Printing
DAY 5. Juliet and Jing went home. And I’m quite mad with my employer, can’t believe it’s 5 days already! Since I have nothing to do, I planned evil schemes to avenge what they’ve done to me. They lied. They didn’t keep their promise! Ate Mari already got an email of her employment visa. I quite teased her why she will leave tomorrow, we have this directive “walang iwanan.”
VISA STATUS: same as yesterday
DAY 6. I will be left behind. I’m too angry to talk. Everyone’s evading me except for Ate Amy. She talked to me. It all boils down to me blaming God for everything. I was quite ashamed of what I said. In the first place, everything that happened to me are the results of my decisions at “that” moment. Decisions made in a rush. Decisions I didn’t consulted with God. At the end of our talk, I felt peace. We accompany Ate Marinela to the shuttle going to the airport. Then, we ate lunch at the beach. Ate Mona joined our room since we’re getting fewer
DAY 7. I stopped documenting. The following days were spent on meditation.
DAY 10. Took a flight to Dubai. Ate Amy, Ate Mona, and Ate Cindy were left behind.
**People mentioned in this blog are in the UAE now.
Kish island is not a scary place. It’s actually the place where I found hope and peace. This is where I encountered the lord again. Don’t let rumours eat you, see it for yourself.