Days Go By

There’s an indescribable charm about the small provincial town of Sara. Superficially, there is nothing attractive about it. This little hole in the wall, two hours from anywhere, has no real coffee in the markets, sells no toilet seats with their toilets and finding a garden rake is an impossibility (we had to borrow the neighbors rake made of rebar and nails). So why love this place? In short, I don’t know why but I do.

I could easily say that part of the appeal is the scenic beauty of the rice fields that are compassed about by the small mountain ranges but, deep down inside, I think it’s more than that. There’s a hidden appeal to this place that is not so easily revealed. Perhaps it is the people, maybe even the scenery; I can’t put my finger on exactly what ‘it’ is but I know that I love ‘it’. Part of it may be the culture or it could even be the egotistical fact that I’m the only white person who lives here (and probably the only one that wants to). No matter what it is, Sara, Iloilo on Panay Island is now what I call home.

I certainly identify more with the people now than when I first came. I credit this to the fact that I am now a farmer. I originally called myself a gardener but I think after planting a few hundred plants covering many square meters it is safe to upgrade myself to the more appropriate term of farmer. When it takes you four hours a day, four to five days a week it has stopped being a pastime. With the labors of the field comes a bit more understanding of who the people are and why they do things the way they do.

I have all but forgotten the chaotic rat race that existed in Dallas. About the only time I see traffic backed up in this town is when a caribou stops in the middle of the road to look around. The pace here is extremely slow and, for the most part, I enjoy it. There is no hurry to do anything and everything, no matter how important it is, can always wait a day or two.

Jenn Preparing My Ilonggo Lessons

Jenn Preparing My Ilonggo Lessons

I frequently get to enjoy those ‘Office Space’ moments where I do absolutely nothing and, in doing such, find out that it was everything I thought it could be. Unlike my computer world, I have more time for real people (although I do miss my virtual friends).

Don’t get me wrong, there is no such thing as utopia. There are frustrating moments as well. Waiting forty minutes in line at the ATM because most people (especially the older ladies) have no idea how to use one really gets to me. People here also have the annoying habit of standing over the shoulder of the person in front of them to watch the transaction take place. My American rudeness comes out at that point. It is also EXTREMELY frustrating trying to purchase something at the market and having to wait twenty minutes so the vendor can go from friend to friend to make change for your 500 or 1000 peso bill. I have even experienced this headache at the immigration office as well. Nobody in the country it seems maintains enough cash on hand to make change. Businesses here have very little understanding of customer service.

For what it’s worth, I do ok with the headaches and having to live without real butter, real coffee and other such luxuries. I manage. I keep to myself, my bamboo nipa, my garden and Jennifer. Speaking of which, we are now waiting on her birth certificate so we can proceed with the wedding. Just a word of caution to anyone who falls in love with a girl from the provinces: she probably has zero forms of identification. Prepare yourself for lots of paper work and trips to city hall! If all goes well, the wedding will take place in February.

I’m still struggling to find the time to sit down in front of the laptop and upload the rest of my pictures to Myplog. Eventually I’ll get around to it. There’s some good photos in the batch although none are that recent. I haven’t taken a whole lot of pictures lately. I’ll try to get out with the camera and shoot some pictures of Sara. First things first though, I have to finish composting the watermelon.

3 Responses to Days Go By

  1. Linda

    January 20, 2010 at 4:52 am

    American defination of farmer=sun up to sundown and even on Sunday depending on the weather. Work day=when the sun shines. Bedtime=when the sun goes down. You haven’t milked a water buffalo and made butter? Yes, tranquility is nice. That is the “it”. My blood pressure keeps dropping, dropping, until someone from civilization with a “problem” calls me. Then I nearly stroke. Enjoy! You can easily live off the land on 4 hours a day but to make profit will take much more. Make watermelon rind pickles. I miss your dehydrated watermelon :-). Was like candy. MMMmmmm!

  2. Jon Kokko

    January 20, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Funny you should say that, I have been absolutely craving dried watermelon lately. I suppose planting all those seeds brought the taste back to mind.

  3. Linda

    January 21, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    There may be hope for Laura yet. The old 62 year old man she is enamoured with is going to teach her gardening and put a hoe in her hand. Tank said that is worth a 350 mile trip to see. Is it too late to send you basil? Tai or Italian or both? Tai for Pho’ . Remember Pho’? I make it at home with chicken bullion, thin sliced purple onion, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, basil or cilantro, jalpeno slices and chinese 5 spice. I don’t have the real spices like lotus flower but Chinese spice subsitutes or I leave it out.

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