Davao Diary Update

(I wrote this some time last week, so references to ‘today’ are not really accurate any more)

I read a description in a book that is perfect for here the last couple of days- the air was mild, but had the touch of a wet sponge against her cheek.  It’s been in the 80s, but the humidity is high so there’s a feel of being damply kissed and caressed by the breezes.

I helped out at the school again today and walked there in a mild drizzle. It didn’t seem like I’d need my umbrella, but whenever I put it down it was wet enough that I hastily put it right back up again.

The last stretch of the walk to the school from our house is a stony dirt road- too many stones to call it a dirt road, too much mud and dirt to call it a gravel road.  There are no houses on either side, just overgrown grass, jungle (did you know boondock is a Philippino word?), and a boggy stretch.  Today as I walked things kept moving on the path and I realized they were tiny frogs, no bigger than my pinky fingernail- and I bite my nails.  They were all moving from right to left, or rather, from the boggiest, wettest side of the road to the still dampish but not standing water side of the road.  I had no time to stop and examine them if I wanted to be at my substituting gig in time.   I also had no time to avoid them, and no way to be sure that I was.  The road was that crowded with them.  I finally had to just set my face and keep my eyes up and straight ahead of me without looking at the path at all and walk on, not thinking about the tiny frogs I was probably squishing beneath my shoes from time to time. I hope that they all escaped, but if they did not, at least they were too small for me to feel any that I crushed.


At school today I was to read If You Give a Moose a Muffin to the kindergarteners.  They all assured me they knew what a moose was and had seen them before, but one of those positive children also asked me what antlers were when we got to the bit in the story where the Moose puts on a puppet show and his antlers show.


The rain picked up and did not relent. It was a curtain of water cascading down by the time the class was over.  The teacher I subbed for had managed to finish her appointment early and return to school.  She offered me 50 pesos in taxi fare to get home, and I did not refuse her. Jeepneys don’t seem to come right to our neighborhood, and all the trikes I saw were full.  It was 1/3 of the way home before I was able to flag a cab and my arms were pretty wet by then.

Our house stays dry, the street less so.  We are fortunate. Our helper says her street stays dry, but the water comes in through the roof in several places.

As usual, after a heavy rain the frogs are out in full force.  I simply cannot convey how incredibly loud they are. There are at least three different kinds, I think. One sounds like a horn at a sporting event, the kind blown by fans. One sounds something like a kettle drum, it actually says ‘KEK KEK KEK KEK’ very loudly. I had no idea. And the third is more of a chorus of smaller creatures in the boggy wetland area across the street from our house.
I tried to record them while standing in our patio, but the recording does not do them justice. After a rainstorm they are often so loud we cannot hold a quiet conversation in the house.

Our dog Gold has been very sick, I think quite close to dying, but we seem to have rounded the corner and are moving into a good place. A friend of a friend is a Vet, newly returned to Davao City and he is trying to build clientele, so he has come out to see the dog twice- he hardly charged anything the first time, and refused to take anything but remuneration for the medicines he gave us the second time. I have been making the dog small batches of artisan dog food, mostly minced cooked chicken, mashed sweet potato, a bit of boiled egg, and some rice. He gets as much of that as he will eat throughout the day. I also give him water and chicken broth mixed together with some glucose powder via syringe I squirt in his mouth multiple times about every three or four hours. He is much perkier than he was, and shows other gratifying signs of healing and recovery, but I really wish he’d start drinking on his own. I am worried that he is going to decide being hydrated while in my lap is his kind of life-style. Kindly recall that I don’t want a dog, said I did not want a dog, and insist that I do not have a dog. Nevertheless, I am glad that the dog who is not and never shall be mine is not going to die on us, this week, anyway.

On Saturday, we actually had thunder for the first time since we’ve been here. That was startling and also quite pleasant.

I cannot recall if I have mentioned my husband and I are taking language lessons here now, and I’ve spending quite a bit of time reading up on the best ways to learn a new language and using an app called Anki to make my own flashcards which then show themselves to me on a scientifically programmed basis of repetition. Meanwhile, I still keep up with Spanish a bit on Duolingo, and the occasional Korean lesson just to maintain a steady level of ignorance. I will post a little more about that later, the teacher said something very moving.

We have more Indian neighbors than I had realized at first- a group of medical students and interns live somewhere nearby, up the road. They have been getting together with friends and playing cricket in an empty lot and at the old basketball court several times of late. That is fun to watch (and listen to).

Our local church preachers have a small bookbinding set up in their house, and they are printing and binding hymnals in their native Visayan. When that is finished, they will take them by motorcycle up into hills and out to some of the more remote villages where there are small churches who don’t have any. We gave some of our support money to them to help carry that work out.

A few nights ago I had been reading too many science texts while working on a plan for my son’s final science term, and my head needed clearing. I took a walk down the road, and was accosted in the friendliest of tones by a small busload of about a dozen children and a couple teenagers. The bus is a small jeepney that either wasn’t running, or was done running for the day- parked on the side of our small, narrow road, and the children were sitting in it visiting and playing. It is nearly always cooler outside than inside in the evening because of the breezes. They wanted to practice their English and I wanted to let them. They were delightful, teasing each other making up names for one another – ‘that one is charcoal. He is small, dark, and quits easily.’ The charcoal for grilling here is different- it’s hollow, very thin, and breaks into pieces, and it does finish burning fairly fast. ‘That one is Dora the Explorer, she wants to know everything.’ Dora the Explorer’s little brother said something else I didn’t understand, but must not have been complimentary as she reached out the window and thumped him on the head and he laughed and ducked around to the other side of the bus.

The trash pick up here is not by house, but by neighborhood. There are two places on our street with several largish trash cans (not much larger than a couple of outside waste bins at home), and you can carry your trash bags down to either one. they do not seem to have lids. Sometimes they are overflowing before the city truck comes to collect the trash. That means it always reeks mightly in the general vicinity of those bins. Sometimes somebody who lives nearest will light the bags that have spilled out of the garbage bins on fire in sheer self defense. Remember what a tropical climate this is, too.

We are missing our dozen grandbabies, their parents, and my mom, of course, but we are still very glad to be here.

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