The Working Life

A friend of mine recently asked me what I was doing for work. It was a good and timely question if for no other reason than the fact that the subject has been on my mind a lot lately. It is easier to spend money than it is to make money and I’ve been doing a lot of spending (a LOT of spending). Granted, things are cheap here in the middle of nowhere but I’ve relocated from a society where it was not uncommon to work 10-16 hours a day. If I’m not producing I feel unproductive. I not only need to work for money, I need to work for my sanity.

Google Adsense revenue brings me in a bit of cash here and there, probably enough to sustain myself on, but I don’t want to put all my eggs into that basket. So, in order to keep my savings from vaporizing into nothing, I’ve considered numerous investment opportunities. I didn’t plan on it but when I bought the refrigerator Momma started selling ice and ice candy. From what I’ve seen, we probably rake in 10-25 pesos a day. It’s not a lot but it will pay the electric bill. Momma has also started bagging and selling off that 50-kilo bag of sugar I bought; that’s probably a 500 peso profit we’ll make. Every little bit helps! Next on the investment list is a caribou. Not only will the caribou assist Papa in the field by making his job ten times easier, the animal can be rented out for 300 pesos a day. It needs no feed (grass only) so I consider that a good purchase. After that I’m looking at breeding some goats to sell. Mostly I just want some milk, cheese and butter (which is virtually non-existent here in Sara) but the extra pesos will also add to the pocket book. Lastly, Papa and I will be making a bulk purchase of rice, the biggest business around here. With all of these things combined it is my hope that our simple life here will be self-sustaining. If things go south, I’ll be eating a lot of dried, salty fish.

Aside from the previously mentioned expenses, I’m about to do some serious renovations here. Effective next week, our ‘comfort room’ is going to be demolished. I say that with the utmost of pleasure. We will buy the supplies this Saturday for a new bathroom, complete with a toilet, wash basin and shower. The water will be gravity fed from a tank. It will be made of hollow cinder-block with a cement foundation; still rustic by modern standards but it will be a huge leap from the hole in the ground that we currently use. I will also have the joy of taking a fully nude shower once again (yes, I know you needed to know that). Between that and having an actual toilet to sit on, I’ll be a happy man. Later on, probably in a few months, we’ll start renovations on the nipa.

I’ll continue looking for ways to improve life here for me and the family as well as new ways to make money. I confess I struggle to find that balance in busyness to what I call the Filipino extreme. Some days I don’t stop moving (running errands, chopping wood, working in the garden, etc.) and then other days I do nothing productive at all. Some days when I try to be productive it seems the whole Filipino culture is against me; try standing in line for 4 hours at two banks to take out cash at the ATM and they just turned on a $100 limit since they have no large bills! Most days are ‘ok’ and I’m learning to go with the flow but the struggle of adaptation has been greater than I anticipated. I am grateful for my time in Costa Rica and Panama. Had I not gotten my feet wet there then relocating here would have been twice as difficult. Ultimately, I am doing better than I think: Jennifer will stop me from time to time in the middle of something and tell me, “You’re Filipino now.” “Not really”, I tell her, “my nose is still long.”

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