Living here

Ideally, you do wash your clothes the night before, or in the morning early and get them out on the line, because it’s going to rain in the afternoon.

We have a washing machine. It’s outside.  A friend from church tells me I am fortunate, most Filipinos wash by hand.  He asked if I had ever done that before.    It was years and years ago when we were poor and had no money for a washer or the laundromat.  So I did sometimes wash clothes in the bathtub. He was surprised to hear it- astonished, in fact.  I told him I hated it, and as soon as we had any money at all, that was one of the things I stopped doing.

In the morning a vendor peddles down our road peddling a food of some sort.  I can’t recall the name, and I haven’t bought any yet- usually he comes about the time I am busy getting the Cherub up and dressed and I can’t stop and run out.  I’ve been told it’s a kind of dessert/breakfast food.  I have been told it is delicious and that it is disgusting.  It’s sort of a sweet, sticky (sticky like mocha or raw biscuit dough consistency) thing. I think I will be among those who like it because I’ve had similar thing at a church potluck and at a mall vendor and I liked it, but don’t know yet for certain.

In the evening another vendor comes- two, actually.  The first is selling balut, the half grown duckling in the egg.  I am not ever going to try this.

The last vendor of the day is ringing a bell.  I don’t know how it is in other neighborhoods. In ours, it is a family and they are selling home-made ice cream in cones.  The ice creams so far have been ube (deep purple) and pandan (deep green.  Ube is sweet potato.  I can figure out what, precisely, pandan is.  I have had pandan cookies and I like them, but the flavor doesn’t match what I am told pandan is, and the ice cream tastes the same no matter what colour it is.

Because so many people don’t have their own transportation, almost everywhere, we are told, has some kind of delivery system.  You can even call and have McDonald’s or Kentucky Fried Chicken deliver (COD).  We haven’t had much luck with that because accents over the phone are difficult in both directions.

There are apps, but you still deal with other issues.  For example, we tried McDonald’s.  It took forever to get the app to complete our order. Than we got a phone call- they did not carry the drinks the app said they had. We said okay, just remove it.  They said okay and hung up. Then we got a second phone call- keep in mind, phone calls are not free for the receiver. I forget what the second phone call was about- possibly asking for clarification on the directions.  Then, about the time we thought the food would be arriving, we got the third phone call.  In an order consisting of five chicken sandwiches, on apple soda (that they did not carry), and two French fries, they were now calling to tell us they were all out of chicken sandwiches, would we like cheeseburgers instead?  The burgers were more expensive.  We canceled the order and removed the app from our phone and the HM walked ten minutes away to the Chinese restaurant and ordered carry out and brought it back.  We also got their menu and they also deliver.  We’ll give them a try some time.

It’s hot here, but it’s not just the heat.  I keep forgetting the tropical sun is tropical because we are near the equator.  It burns.  Filipino women carrying parasols or umbrellas are not just being quaint (I read a book on Philippine history, supposedly by an expert, and he referred to the custom as some sort of residual affectation from Spanish Colonization).  It really does make a difference.  Men working out in the son will wrap t-shirts around their heads for some of the same reasons.

We had a housecall from our new vet.  It cost about five dollars, and that included some medicine for the dog, who has not been eating well since he had his free rabies vaccine.  The vet is a friend of a friend, newly returned to Davao City.  He was practicing in Manila, but was homesick.  He wants to start a clinic, so he is asking around for new clients, and making housecalls to build his client list.

We asked them to stay for dinner, and they did.  The deviled eggs were immensely popular, but they didn’t like the name.

I also had a masseuse come make a housecall.  She, too, was a friend of a friend.  Her nephew asked me several times if I wouldn’t like to have his auntie come do this (I’d been sick, and he thought it would help a lot).  I finally gave in and accepted, thinking this was as much for building relationships and helping nephew help his auntie as it was for me.

However.  That should have been only around ten dollars, but I had didn’t have a small enough bill and it ended up being closer to 20, which was frustrating.  However, the massage itself was terrific, and it did help.  I had been sick with a high fever- we d0n’t know how high because I didn’t bring a thermometer and I haven’t seen one to buy.  But it was awful hot, and I hurt like crazy, and alternated cold chills and hot sweats.  When it all went away I had this weird rash on my lower calf and ankle.  It wasn’t really rashy looking, it looked like a giant burn- very reddish in colour, but not speckled or anything.  It felt bruised.

Well, ‘Auntie’ massaged that and it felt like ripping off an old scab- you know, kind of painful. but relief at the same time.  When she was done, it was almost all gone.  The massage was terrific- lasted nearly an hour and she really worked my joints and muscles everywhere.

But when the whole thing was over, I asked if I was supposed to pay and that’s when I found out I was.  I had only the larger bill and I hesitantly held that up and explained I had nothing smaller, and the nephew took it quickly and said that would be fine and would I also share these fliers about a housing property Auntie managed with all our friends, and also I should get this massage at least once a month, okay?  Off they went. My husband texted him and suggested they could give us our change by buying load for our phone- you can do this here. You buy load and you can send it to anybody whose phone number you have.  This is how we put new load on our cell phones- we go to the local sari-sari store and tell him we need load, and he looks at his phone and tells us how much he can spare, we pay him, and he sends it to our phone number.  Anyway, so my husband suggested to our friend the nephew that he give us our change this way.  He gave us half the change due via texted load to our phone,  and said nothing about the rest.  We dropped it because relationship.  But I won’t be getting this massage once a month.   It’s an experience I am (mostly) glad to have had once, but won’t be repeating.  I also will probably not let nephew talk me into any more services (previously he’d also tried to get us to have a friend make our dog a kennel, only it turned out the kennel was going to cost three times more than buying one at the store, which we could not afford).

Our son bought long pants for his school uniform and decided he wants shorts.  We asked around if anybody knows a sew lady who has a machine to him them into shorts for him.  This cost us about 60-80 cents a pair, and we didn’t have to do anything but give them to a friend who delivered them to the seamstress and brought them back- in one case the same day (he had two pairs done because he couldn’t find the third, and then he had the third pair done later when he found them).

Our water bill was about five dollars.  Our electricity bill is considerably more.  Our internet bill is not the 80 dollars we were originally quoted (from a company that decided they couldn’t come out after all), but about 20-25 dollars.

We are going to start taking weekly Visayan lessons.  This will be interesting, as my husband and I are taking them together.

Our household helper has told us if I will give her money in advance, she will go to the palinke (I am undoubtedly spelling this wrong)  before she comes to work and buy us fruits and vegetables because they will be much cheaper there.  My husband has been twice.  I have yet to go, because nobody thinks it is a good idea to take the Cherub with me- there are too many things for her to grab, and the walkways are narrow, uneven, and often wet.

Those are just a few things from our life here so far, and in no order.  Is there anything in particular you are curious about?

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  1. Frances
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    You mentioned chocolate. Is it hard to come by? Very perishable because of the heat? What kind do you like, given your druthers? I go for dark, Lindt or Green & Black’s, though I’ve started exploring Trader Joe’s. Don’t usually eat much more than an ounce for a late night treat, so quality beats quantity 😉

    • Headmistress
      Posted February 12, 2017 at 3:49 am | Permalink

      It’s not impossible to come by, but good chocolate stuff in the store is either not so common, or not very cheap and we don’t end up buying it because the only place it will keep is the freezer. There is an amazing bakery just a ten minute walk from here that makes incredible chocolate stuff- brownies, cakes, tortes.

  2. Suzanne
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    We call those eggs “angel’d eggs” because we don’t like the common name either! :^)

    Because we lived there for a few years, I can relate and I really enjoy reading your posts regarding life there.

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