chicken adobo

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ice cream cones

10 pesos each, or .20 each

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Traveling From Chicago To Davao City

Although Davao City is a huge international metropolis of 1 and a half million people, there are no direct flights from the U.S. to Davao.  We came by way of Manilla.  If doing it all over again, I would look and see if there is some other way to get to Davao- going through Singapore?  Thailand?  Cebu Island?  I have no idea.  I just did not love the Manilla airport.

Traveling by Japan Airlines was the bomb. The seats are incredibly roomy. The back of each seat has a screen and there are movies, tv shows, cartoons, games, and informational little ‘public service’ announcements you can choose, and also music to listen to (headphones!).

One of the public service announcements was about exercises to do in the plane to help with circulation and swelling, but if you are travelling with preschoolers,  I could see kids having fun with this one. I did them two or three times, and I do think it helped a lot.

There is a place to plug in your phone (not a regular cord, with an aux cord) or other devices. They also provided neck pillows and blankets. The food was good, the bathrooms roomy enough to take the Cherub. The Tokyo airport bathrooms- be aware that some of them have the porcelain insert in the ground squatty potty, usually the first one, and if the bathroom is full, the only one that is available. It’s fine, just not what you want in an emergency with the Cherub.  However, I have to tell you, in my twenties when we lived in Japan I vastly preferred these.  So much more sanitary. Just more difficult with toddlers, or when your knees start to go, or you have to take the Cherub.

In Manilla, you have to switch airlines and also terminals. The terminals are far apart. You leave the airport to go from one to the other, so during the day you are in Manilla traffic. This can take FOREVER. We were there in the middle of the night and I think it was half an hour, maybe 20 minutes. It felt like forever.  It did not help that it was the middle of the night.

You get off the plane, pick up your luggage (and a luggage lackey, you want him, his English will be useful and he will get you to the currency exchange, through customs and on the bus for your terminal). You will go through customs there at the first terminal, and also somebody from the health department will want you to assure them none of you are sick.

When you get to the next terminal, you will have to re-weigh your luggage because they have a smaller weigh allowance.  As I recall there was a place to do this automatically, by machine all by yourself, but honestly, I was so tired and had to drag Cherub all over creation trying to find a working bathroom and a working escalator to get her back downstairs (the bathrooms were upstairs, the ticket places were down.  Well, there was allegedly a bathroom on this floor as well, but it was out of order when I was there), I was sore and weary and just wanted to lie down.  So maybe my memory is both hazy and seen through rather grim lenses.

There is another place you have to go get documents looked at, but just one of you can go (you cannot take your luggage in there). My husband did this.  I remember nothing about it except there was nowhere to sit and I wanted to cry I was so tired.

Some of your stuff may be overweight and you will have to pay extra. We did not. Then comes the hard part. Parts of the terminal will be broken (escalators, bathrooms). The part you need to get your tickets for the next flight will not open until a couple hours before the flight. You will see people sleeping on the floor all over the airport. My suggestion, depending on the time you have between flights: if you need sleep, find the chapel and see if you can be quiet and doze there (it’s kind of in an odd corner, out of the way), or use the sleeping in airports site and find a lounge and rent a sleeping room or space and doze as much as you can, giving yourself time to wake up and go get in line to check your luggage and get tickets for the next route (it is usually cheaper for somebody on this end to buy your tickets from Manilla to Davao, but I don’t know any more about that, either).   Honestly, for any kind of international travel, read sleeping in airports, and read it a lot. Take notes.

The plane to Davao will be tinier, more cramped, and all around in general have no leg room or any other room. Go to the bathroom before you get on it. They moved my son to the bulkhead because it was impossible for him.   He was twisted like a pretzel.  He could not put his legs in front of him by any kind of maneuvering at all.   My favorite part of this flight- most of the journey my husband and son made itclear they thought it was silly I had brought TWO neck pillows/travel pillows.  On this journey my son begged to borrow one of them.  (and I still use them in our house at night, so there).    Incidentally, This flight is only about an hour, plus the wait time on both ends.

Davao airport is small and easy to get around in.

I’m just going to share a shorter list of things I am glad I brought or one of us wishes we had brought:
Compression socks (I could have gone one level tighter, but these were good)
Two pairs of shoes so I could change in Manila. My husband and son wish they had brought an extra pair of socks, I was fine with one pair of socks, but very, very glad I had a different pair of shoes to switch into.
Neck pillow- JAL had them, Cebu airlines did not. I needed mine.
IPod, headphones,  and Kindle and a small light
A couple ziplock bags and a couple plastic grocery bags for laundry if needed)
Diaper wipes (both parents need them in something you carry all the time, Filipino bathrooms seldom provide toilet paper).
Hand sanitizer, see above.

Sleep mask–  we still use this, too, because the lights of the neighborhood shine in our windows.

Mouthwash, toothbrush, toothpaste (Japan Airlines provided them as well)

Small hand fan, because it’s hot. 

cough drops or throat lozenges because airport and airplane air makes my throat dry.

Chapstick (see above)

I ended up crocheting myself a small bag to carry around my neck to carry my passport and tickets, and the Cherub’s. 

None of my carry-on had wheels.  I really, badly, seriously, majorly regretted that.  So did my son, since that meant he ended up carrying some of my stuff, and he had packed light on purpose.

Oh, money changing- do it beforehand or do it at Manilla. They do not, will not change money with any tears, no matter how tiny. Get crisp new twenties and hundreds (they also don’t change smaller bills). Hardly anybody accepts credit cards here.
Tip the luggage carrier with pesos.  Be generous.

Like I think I said before- if you can go to Cebu and then Davao, that might be worth it. If you have to go to Manilla, just give yourselves a nice window of time before your next plane leaves.  A bay window, with wide expanses.  AS in six hours or more.

Be aware that if you have not traveled before or have never been to any part of Asia, It will be crowded and overwhelming and incredibly foreign feeling. Also hot.  For my husband and I, it did not feel foreign.  It felt familiar, only we were tired and wanted to lie down somewhere and couldn’t (we couldn’t do the floor, too American).  But it sure was hot.


Are we experts?  No way.  If somebody else gives you different travel advice, you should probably take it.

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Books read in January

Bruchko– well known missionary story of Bruce Olson who has worked with the Bari tribe of Columbia for forty years or more and seen remarkable results. I read this in a single sitting because I didn’t want to quit. It was slow going or the first couple of chapters. I didn’t really care about his criticism of the Lutheran church of his youth, and I found his account of his family unsatisfactory. But once we got out America and into South America it was riveting. You can read more about his work and the Motilone/Bari people here and here for starters.

Re-Creations,by Grace Livingston Hill- what can I say. It was free and it’s GLH. I love her. This story is about Cornelia, who abruptly has to end her college career just a term before graduation because her father’s business has gone bust, Mother has nearly died and is in a sanitarium, the children are either running wild or over-burdened trying to keep things together while still in school, and they just moved to a new house and aren’t even unpacked yet. Cornelia is first resentful, but she has not been told how bad things are and how many sacrifices have been made to keep her in college this long. Her plan was to be an interior decorator for the rich, and instead she is redecorating their shabby home on the wrong side of the tracks, helping her poor benighted neighbors experience beauty in their lives, and helping to redesign her errant young brother’s life by showing him just how tacky and vulgar his chosen crowd of people mostly are. She also, of course, cooks delicious meals making much out of little (my favourite details in all these books), sews her dresses into new frocks for her little sister, meets the local pastor and his family and rediscovers the faith of her youth and learns, with little sister, to rebuild a strong and faithful prayer life and makes their disorderly, motherless mess of a house into a tastefully decorated, comfortable and welcoming home. Romance in the usual tasteful GLH fashion. What can I say? I love this stuff.

In Our Image, America’s Empire in the Philippines A history of the Philippines which was useful for me to read, but often tedious, and regrettably it ends just before Mount Pinatubo’s eruption ended the American military presence here. I say regrettably, because that connection was a constant feature of the narrative, and I would have liked to have read something which addressed the Philippines *after* Clark was returned.

(links are affiliate links)

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In which I discover I am abook thief. But only temporarily

I really have to share here my immense satisfaction with Amazon kindles, and also with the program known as Overdrive, and, in a strange way, with our lack of Wi-Fi, and even now the incompatibility of our wifi with my Kindle.
HEre’s what I mean-

The Kindle, of course, permitted me to carry some 2,000 books with me overseas in the longest journey of my life, all in this little electronic device that doesn’t weigh half a pound. Well, I did carry more like 4,000 books in two devices, but one of them was lost in the journey and never did turn up.

Overdrive allows you to check out ebooks if you have a good library card with a participating library. I have cards to two different libraries with very different types of collections, so that’s very handy. The other nice thing about Overdrive is that you can either read (or listen, you can do audiobooks, too) from your phone or other device, OR you can actually download them in various was, including going to Amazon and downloading the loaned books to your Kindle. Now here is where I discovered something delightful and also my husband insists, not kosher, but I didn’t do it on purpose. Because I have not had good Wi-Fi connections, what I ended up doing is maxing out my loans during those hours I could get to the school to use their Wi-Fi, and then downloading the books to my laptop. When I get home, I transfer to my Kindle via my USB cord. I also did this with the free books I download from kindle every month (okay, every week). I do this because I cannot get my kindle to connect to the school’s wifi or my wifi at home and allow me to download the usual way.

I categorize and file away books downloaded to my Kindle to keep things tidy and easy to find. The loaned books are in my category marked “Currently REading” which is a lie and a self-deception because I couldn’t possibly be currently reading that many books. But I put them there along with titles I do own and do mean to be currently reading to encourage myself to remember to read them. When I finish a book, I remove it, and when I don’t finish it but my Overdrive check out time has expired, it is no longer accessible to me. Or rather, this was true before we moved to the PHilipppines.

I have shared before I have absolutely no sense of the passing of time. So I did not notice that my Overdrive bookloans were overdue but not disappearing. If I had downloaded them to Kindle in the usual way, they would just automatically be closed to me and marked with notice that my loan was ended. But since I can’t get the kindle connected to the wifi, Amazon cannot get into my Kindle and remove things. The books automatically do disappear from my overdrive profile of books checked out. This means I don’t even know which Kindle books I bought and which I checked out- I can sign in to Amazon and view my order history and figure it out, but I only realized I even needed to do that this week.

I discovered this was happening when one book in particular had taken me a ridiculously long time to read and it was not disappearing from my Kindle. I went to check Overdrive to see how much longer I had, and it was no longer checked out to me. But it was still on my Kindle. For another couple of weeks, I continued stubbornly reading under an oppressive cloud of irritation and dismay because I thought the reason it was no longer checked out to me but was still on my Kindle was because I must have accidentally purchased it, and I really had not intended to do that. It’s a history of the Philippines written from an American perspective (sympathetic to the Philippines, but still, distinctly American in outlook), bt it was written by a journalist and journalists in general should not write history books. They are repetitive and boring.

I finally finished it, and went to check on Amazon to see just how much I paid for the wretched thing. I could not find that I had ever purchased it. I went to look in my currently reading folder on my Kindle to see if I could find any clues, not really expecting to, and discovered that I had some 20 library books still accessible to me on my Kindle, but no longer checked out to me on Overdrive.

I am reading them at my leisure, and when I am done I will remove them. But my husband says I am a book thief. I say no, I am merely a delinquent borrower, and since I will return them, I won’t be a thief. He says I will, because returning them later only makes me a reformed former book thief.

Since I just checked out and downloaded a dozen more books to read, it is perhaps optimistic to use the words reformed and former.


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