Day Four: (Pictures will have to come later- the blog won’t load them).
We took a cab to breakfast at Green Coffee: https://www.facebook.com/Green-Coffee-1779881528940623/
Cabs here are about a dollar (or less), for us even with all four of us. Obviously, this depends on where you go, but my son, who quickly has become a master taxi flagger, says the cost is also counted by how long it takes, not distance. So if traffic is clear, it takes less, if congested, more. Davao City is very congested a lot of the time. Green Coffee is close enough to walk to, if you don’t have a disabled child who wobbles a lot when she walks and who is also slow and erratic in her walk. We have to walk down a either a stone road, or a badly gutted asphalt road, and then cross an incredibly busy street to get there. Pedestrians cross those roads all the time, and because the mode of driving here is defensive rather than aggressive and offensive, it’s safer than it seems, but we’re new and it’s still nerve racking to step out into moving traffic.
Pro-Duterte signs are still widely seen around our area of Davao City.
The Davao City cab drivers are famous all over the country for their civility, honesty, integrity, and professionalism, and their reputation is well-earned. This is, btw, part of the legacy of former Mayor of the city and now president of the country Duterte. Davaoenos are incredibly proud of him. The Visaya are not a majority group here. They are an ethnic minority and they speak a different dialect, so besides the fact that Duterte really did clean up a city so riddled by crime that normal, every day citizens were unable to live normal lives, he is truly one of theirs. (disclaimer: I’m only repeating what I have heard and/or read from others. I should not be mistaken for somebody with any authority or keen insight at all). Incidentally, the cab drivers do offer a discount to seniors and to disabled passengers, but we didn’t ask for it.
I’ll write more about transportation modes another time.
The Green Coffee shop is open 24 hours a day. They have a wide array of flavored coffees and teas, and some amazing pastries. At least, I assume they are all amazing. The one I ordered was. Most of them are sweet. I ordered a blueberry ensemada (picture), which was a lot like a cream cheese Danish, only better, less cloying, less sweet, more buttery and cheesy, with a lighter than air bun.
The men ordered a roll with a corned beef and cheese filling. It was delicious, but not very filling. The bread was again lighter than air, tender, delicate, delicious. There were only a couple spoonfuls of meat filling. But it was good.
Now for the really fun part. On the way to the coffee shop my husband realized he had left his phone back in the room. He has had the only phone that works here in the Philippines (my son and I got ours later today). He thought about going back to get it, but we decided just to keep going. We had finished our pastries and were lingering over coffee (juice for the ‘kids’) and discussing the logistics of our plans for the rest of the day. After we decided what to do, I went to take some pictures of the pastries, and The Boy started toward the door to call a cab (did I mention he loves that part?). A Filipino man walked in the door at that moment, looked up at my son, and then walked up to my husband and said, “Are you Brother ….? I am Brother L.”
Back story : Our daughter jennyanydots has gone one two mission trips to the Philippines with the same American missionary. We asked him about church contacts within our church home here in Davao City. He had given us the name of C., a preacher here in Davao City and we’d been in some contact with him, but it was limited because he was traveling and we had phone issues. Because he was traveling, he tasked his friend and co-worker Brother L. with finding us to make sure we knew how to get to church tomorrow. Of all mornings to forget our one working phone, this was the morning Brother L. had been texting and texting, and not hearing back. He knew the general neighborhood we were in, so he took two different jeepneys to get here, and just sort of walked around a bit hoping to find us. When our son, a 6’4” inch white boy in a country where the average height is about a foot shorter, came to the door of the coffee shop to flag a cab, Brother L. happened to be right there where he could see him- which is not a wide angle of vision because the door is set back from the street and flanked by palm trees. We could have been anywhere- it was my first time at this coffee shop, we hadn’t gone out for breakfast before, he never would have been able to see us if we’d been home at the school guest house. It was something of a minor miracle to us.
Brother L. devoted the better of his day to us. He flagged down a pedicab for the Cherub, Boy, and me to take back to the room, and then he walked back with my husband and and stayed longer. The Boy and I were planning to go grocery shopping at the one store I had already been to, he told me one that was closer. He stayed with my husband and the Cherub while we went grocery shopping (the boy flagging me a cab again), and chatted more with my husband about cell phones, politics, where the fish market is, children, the gospel and more. When we came home from the grocery store, he went with my menfolk to another store to help them maneuver getting cell phones for the boy and I to use locally. He’ll be back here tomorrow morning to help us get to church by taxi.
He also serves an evangelist and travels to other parts of the island sharing the gospel and strengthening established congregations. He doesn’t get any support for this beyond what local people are able to share. We paid him back for his transportation fees and bought him lunch today, plus a tiny bit extra, but it wasn’t enough. It’s never enough.
The Grocery Store: The supermarket I went to today is huge, enormous. Like, the size of a Cosco or something. It was, honestly, overwhelming. It’s Christmas and a Saturday, so it was very crowded, too, and of course, while there are familiar things, everything is different, too. People were unfailingly kind, friendly, and patient, even sympathetic to my cluelessness. They were also endlessly gobsmacked by my son. It is fortunate that he loves attention because he’s certainly getting plenty of it. He is constantly being pointed out, stared at, flirted with, laughed at (not in a mean way, none of it meanly, he’s just really attracting loads of attention). The Cherub attracts her share of attention as well, but it’s a lot more subdued and doesn’t include people of the opposite sex asking to friend her on fb.
Back to the grocery store: I bought some familiar things – squid balls and fish balls, shanghai lumpia, oranges, watermelon, sardines, milk, calamansi juice (okay, familiar to us- as our son told our host at the Korean restaurant, “we don’t really eat like most Americans”). I bought some unfamiliar things to experiment with: Pomelo (we already finished it off and want more), pechay, longganisa, banana ketchup, and some dried danggit.
You can buy plenty of raw meat, pork, meat, chicken, all kinds of fish, but the fish is whole, the cuts of meat and the choosing and pricing were new to me- it’s mostly not prepackaged. There is a meat cooler similar to those at home, filled with containers of raw meat (think something like the deli and salads area of your home grocer)- but the case is uncovered. You get or are given a bag and put what you want in it, and then the meat counter workers weight it and seal it with a printed label with the weight and price for you. Some things are common to American cooks, others slightly less so (beef knees, for instance). Another day I will linger more, but today they were really busy and I felt like I was in the way of customers who knew what they were doing and were buying for the holidays and didn’t need me slowing them down.
The grocery store had two check out lanes devoted entirely to priority customers- the elderly/seniors, pregnant women, and disabled customers. There were also some benches in that area to sit down and rest while shopping.
Other things I liked about the grocery store- they cut the cardboard boxes into squares that fit in the bottom of the shopping bags. This way you can get more in the bag without your groceries crushing each other, and you are also less likely to have your bag rip open, spilling your groceries on the floor. In the states I sometimes ask the cashiers to bag all my frozen items together so they don’t defrost on the way home. It was hot enough outside that I thought about asking, but I didn’t. I didn’t need to. They automatically did that for me. It was very nice and made unloading my groceries so much easier as well.
We left the store, my son carrying my bags for me. In G-mall, where we were, the supermarket is at the basement level, so you exit to a sort of half tunnel, and then go upstairs to the street level to look for transportation. Several shoppers left the store at the same time, but it was me the skinny young mother with a baby in her arms focused on to beg- for money, I assume, maybe for groceries? She wasn’t speaking English. Probably money- she kept peering hungrily into my purse, which I had unwisely left open. She couldn’t see my money, that was in a make-up bag in my purse. But it didn’t stop her from angling for a view, making me nervous. She kept begging, following me up the stairs. Nobody else even looked at her, so I followed their lead- when I tell you it was crowded, there were probably fifty people milling around on the sidewalk, waiting for a relative to fetch the car, waiting for a taxi or a pedicab. At one point when she was really close to my purse a guard from the store came closer and hissed at her. This kind of thing happens in the states too, if you happen to live where there is a homeless community, which I have done, but years ago. When you live somewhere with winters that can get to 20 below 0, Fahrenheit, the homeless tend not to linger. I am pretty sure you’re not supposed to respond to the begging (which was much, much worse in Angeles City 25 years ago), but it always leaves me feeling unsettled, guilty.
I mentioned before you need to remember to carry some toilet paper yourself because the public bathrooms do not provide any (they have all been clean that I have been in, but they do’n’t provide toilet paper. Something else to remember is not to call it the bathroom. It’s the C.R. or the comfort room.