Live, Love, and Let Live

No, I’m not dead [yet]. Some days it feels like it but all in all, I’m still very much alive. Apart from being insanely busy, I’ve had no internet access for the past week or so but things are back to [semi]normal and I can finally respond to all those emails inquiring about my mortality. Currently speaking, I am mostly healthy and mostly sane.

The back pain is still very present but it’s not as bad as it was. I could stand to use regular massages but the masseuses here that have been offered are male and, frankly speaking, I have issues with that. It’s not a discussion I care to explain to people here as it would be like talking to a wall. This is a culture that offers almost no expectation of privacy and I don’t want my personal taboos to be the latest in local fodder. It’s bad enough that the entire barangay is fully aware of what brand underwear I have (hanging up high in the front of the house) so, on everything else, I practice closing my mouth: anything you say can and will be used against you.

Unfortunately however, there is one cat that is out of the bag and that is in regards to my love life. Or should I call it my soon to be love life?

Open Door Baptist Church

Open Door Baptist Church

I’m not sure because things are horribly confusing here. A local girl and I have taken a strong interest in one another and, despite my overwhelming efforts to be discreet with my personal life, the entire town has exploded with gossip (this is partly due to the entire college class that decided to walk exactly 4 meters behind us in town thus creating what amounts to a billboard/radio announcement.) In the states, things would be as simple as saying, “Hey, let’s go out.” Not so in the Philippines. It’s complicated; it’s horribly complicated.

Here in the land of 7000 islands, before marriage, you must court a girl (think old fashioned) but in order to do so you must ask her parents permission. This is where it gets complicated because, as soon as it was discovered that we had a mutual interest, I have been barely able to spend 1 minute alone with her to find out anything (much less where her family lives). How do you make a decision to court someone if you’re not allowed a single conversation to get to know them?!?!? The only conversations I’ve had in depth have

Folk Dancing

Folk Dancing

been stolen by bribing our chaperon with donuts and internet access and the occasional text messages we get to send/receive. So far me and my courtesan have been able to keep the upcoming conversation with mom and dad a secret and I’m hoping that conversation will settle all the dust flying in the air of this village. Personally speaking, I’d like to give her father 2 goats and get it over with, but alas, it’s not that simple.

I will on Monday pack my bags and head off to another island to have a consult with mom & dad (who are both aware that I’m on my way). I pray things will be smooth sailing from there but, since my life is never that easy, I’m expecting a few more bumps in the road. I’ll iron those out when I get to them.

Besides my not so lovely love life, I’ve been keeping busy at the church/college practicing my Ilongo (which is still way worse than my tagalog) and also helping out here and there where I can. I’ve declared 2 of the church computers to be dead with 1 potential survivor and, I’m not sure, but I think I volunteered to teach computer 101. Ehhh – that’s ok, I’ve been eating free lunches every day so it all pans out in the end.

The cultural differences are still as enamoring as they are frustrating. I’m not used to having strangers practically sit in my lap on crowded jeepneys and I still have great, great hatred in my heart for those crowing roosters but somehow, having little kids run up to you while giggling and touch you because you’re white, that seems to make the rest of it all “ok”. The bucket showers, eating with your hands, torrential rains, brownouts, none of it matters – it is truly the Filipino people that make the place and I’ve been enjoying it all.

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