Digging Decemeber

I try from time to time to sit down and write about my current happenings here in the Philippines. The longer I am here the more I find this a daunting task. I usually explain life here by making a comparison to life in America. The more time passes, I realize that there is no comparison. Things here are just too different. To try and make that comparison does a great injustice to Filipinos and frustrates me in the writing process. None the less, I’ll press on and try to write a few more things.

Everything here, even those ‘awkward’ things, are starting to grow on me. I realized this the other dayDried & Salted Fish when, at the dinner table, the family had grown silent watching me eat. For the first time I had scarfed down a plate and a half of rice and a large dried, salted fish. I usually stick to the pork and chicken but I’ve been craving the dried fish lately – it’s good when dipped in vinegar.

I now appreciate the smell of the fish market and shopping there has taken on a new appeal. I can even haggle the price like a pro. Watching me walk into the market is probably similar to seeing a celebrity on the street; I buy groceries in bulk and thus the vendors are always happy to see me. Usually the attention I get is taken in stride but sometimes I don’t handle it so well; I’d rather blend in (which is impossible). No sooner do I arrive at the market than a dozen drivers are offering to take me and my groceries back home (I tip well). I try to remember this is their money for food but it can be hard having people believe you’re a walking bank.

I have had a great craving for beef lately. I’m a complete carnivore and I love a good steak so I grabbed a few t-bones from the market and headed home with great enthusiasm. This would be my chance to show Jennifer, who hates beef, how good a well prepared steak could be. Our discussions on the matter have been numerous and I’ve been flabbergasted with her on the subject. How could you hate beef?! Long story short, Jennifer wins this one. Filipino beef (at least here in the provinces) is absolutely awful. It is tougher than it should be and it has a very gamey taste to it. Despite my abundance of peppers, garlic, salt and even a dash of soy sauce, the meat was horrid to eat (the dog tasted better). I’m not certain if the quality of beef is a product of the poor diet the cows have or if it is simply a different breed of animal. Either way, I’ll stick to the pork, chicken and salty fish.

Despite the vast change in my diet since I’ve been here, I think I may be gaining weight due to all the exercise. Between pumping water at the well everyday, shoveling dirt for the new bathroom and carrying around all those cement blocks, I think I’m putting on some muscle. My shoulders, arms and back ache like they never have before and I feel pain in places I didn’t know there were muscles. If it didn’t hurt so bad it would almost feel good.

My allergies have kicked in these past few weeks. I don’t know if it is from a change in the seasons or if it has to do with all the animals (literally ALL the animals) sleeping underneath the nipa at night (our floor is bamboo slats). My sneezing seems to be a bit non-stop and the sinus cavities are a little pressurized. The Claritin I take doesn’t seem to do much good. The Benedryl works like a charm but it also knocks me out for a good four-hour nap so I only take it at night. If it doesn’t clear up soon, I’ll have to endure it until we rebuild the house (at which point the ducks, etc. all get their own space far from my window).

Slowly but surely our new bathroom (called a CR [comfort room]) is coming together. The septic ditch is almost fully dug and soon we’ll line it with cement

Digging the Septic Ditch

Digging the Septic Ditch

block for sturdiness. I am looking forward to that first shower that I can take without the use of a bucket. It’ll be nice to have that luxury in place and I’ve claimed dibs on demolishing the old one. I haven’t decided if I want to destroy it by sledgehammer or by fire but either way I’m going to enjoy it. I never thought I’d appreciate a toilet so much!

On an unrelated note: A special thank you to the Rupp family for their assistance with my birth certificate. Getting it here to the Philippines is a daunting task from the provinces (where EVERYTHING moves at the pace of a dying snail and every communication requires twelve people and two trips to town). Going to Fed-X might not be big thing for them in South Carolina, but for me it is life saver (or should I say marriage saver?). Thanks a bunch Rupps – God bless.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *