Last week I went to Manila for a conference and to find out where my final resting place is going to be in the Philippines. The conference was fun. We were held up at an amazing hotel with a aviary, hot showers, A/C rooms, great food and a bar. It was a very nice venue. Peace Corps treats us well.
So for the next two years I will be living in Pambujan, Samar. Samar is the island north of Leyte (which is where I am now). The town is pretty small. Maybe 15-20 thousand people. There are 4-5 paved roads, the rest are sand. The only vehicles in the town are motorcycles. There are vans and jeepnees that leave the town to go other places. My next host families house is only 2 blocks from the beach. The beach itself is very nice. Its wide open, not many trees. The water is clean and so is the sand once you get away from the main spot where everyone hangs out. It's beautiful.
Near Pambujan, there are small islands near by that host white beaches, coral reefs, fruit bats, snakes, and other good stuff. There are also other Peace Corps volunteers near by. Which is nice. They spend time together having dinner parties, going scuba diving, spelunking, and organizing workshops for the community.
While I was visiting Pambujan, I woke up to go for a run and the host family insisted that my host brother be my kasama (a person who looks after you, a chaperon). They were very adamant about this. They want to make sure that I stay safe. He ended up just turning around a little ways in, and went to the basketball court. Don't blame him. Running is hot and exhausting over here, even at 5 in the morning.
On my way back into town I saw a small group of boys waving a large pole up near a power line. My first thought was "Good God, it's Franklin reincarnated, I've found the diamond in the rough" as I got closer I noticed that they were trying to get something out of a tree. As I ran by I saw the boys wiping their arms and hands in a peculiar way. They weren't panicked, but it looked like they were trying to get something off of them. So I stopped and walked back to see what they were doing. Turns out they had accosted a herd of spiders. The spiders were about quarter size, quick moving and crawling all over the boys, and a small twig they cut down from the tree.
As I stood there and looked at them, the spiders continued to crawl all over their arms, neck and chest. They didn't seem too concerned about the arachnids. They were focusing more on the large two legged creature that stood in front of them. We exchanged names and had a small conversation in Waray, and then I was on my way. I never did figure out what they were doing with the spiders. It was very entertaining though. Its good to see what kids do to keep themselves occupied when there is no T.V. I met another boy training a dove that he caught. He said he would teach me how to train a dove when I come back. So more on that soon.
I had an interesting day yesterday. Our language group went to Tacloban (biggest city in Layte and Samar. 40 minutes away) to practice language skills amongst the locals. We were to go on a scavenger hunt to find certain places and information using the Waray dialect. We were on our way to the post office.
Now you should know this first. There are two lanes on the roads in the Philippines, but all three of them are used. People drive in the middle of the road while other vehicles are still on the left and right of them. It took a while to get used to this Grande Theft Auto style of driving. While the cars are driving around with reckless abandon, people and dogs and old men are crossing the street whenever they choose. Usually causing the drivers to slam on their brakes or swerve. Its very manic. It's amazing that I never hear anyone swear or look frustrated.
So back to the story. Apparently we picked the only "No Jay Walking" zone in the Philippines when we decided to cross the road. Two people with whistles and a backstage pass came running after us and cited us for jay walking. We had two options, we could pay 200 pesos or volunteer 1 hours of community service (I thought that was the funny part) So we decided to do the volunteer service (is that double dipping? Do I get something extra for that?)
We were escorted to the social justice building and were sat down. Now the funny part. Holly (age 65), Alex (age 24 and cute) and me (just me) were sat down. Holly was let off because she is a senior citizen, and Alex wasn't written up either. I'm not sure why, and neither is she. But I've got a sneaky suspension. So it was just me that got the fine. I guess being cute and white doesn't get me much in the Philippines :)
Our supervisor was with us at this point, and she was talking with "the man" trying to point out the obvious that we were serving their country, volunteering for 2 years, saving children, ending world hunger, and stopping whale abuse. But they didn't care. Justice must be served! So we ended up paying the p200. The best part of the whole thing was that the office was air conditioned. That was the highlight of my day yesterday. Being bit on the neck by a cockroach in my sleep last night was not the highlight of my day.
There are more stories to come. But I've got to head off to school and save children. Thanks for reading and posting comments. It makes my day every time I read a new comment. It's good to hear about what's going on back home. Love ya 'all!