Davao Diary: Walking to School and Other Notes

I substituted to read aloud to one of the classes at the library again today, so I am now in my husband’s classroom using the better Wi-Fi. I wish I could set up a nice little recliner in the corner and just hang out all day, and then watch my K-dramas here in the evening, because I am not getting any.={

I have become something of the go-to sub for this particular class, I think.  The librarian knows me and she is basically their language arts teacher for these periods, which happen to coincide with the periods she is needing to be gone for some paperwork and other things.

The library assistant is a volunteer.  She is sometimes able to be there when I am, and sometimes not, and she doesn’t, I think, care to read aloud to the children.   She is also a missionary wife from Korea with 3 young children, two in the school. The last time I read aloud she was there, and she told me she found my reading so interesting she got distracted and didn’t get the books put away because she was listening. I had heard her snicker under her breath at a funny part from over the other side of the stacks. So that’s very gratifying, oh best beloveds.

Also, today is, I think, the third time I have read to this particular class, and they seemed excited to see me when they came in. And *that* is very gratifying, Oh, Best Beloveds.

They come up and talk to me after the story is done, and one favourite young miss (because as soon as the reading is over, she grabs a book and curls up and reads until it is time to go) asked me if I remembered her name. I didn’t, unfortunately, I just remembered she likes to curl up in the rocking chair and read. That seemed almost as good as remembering her name, happily.

Unfortunately, I fear I have not instilled the same sense of fondness in their regular teacher, because I never do finish what I am supposed to do with them in timely fashion and I fear this is annoying to her. I am sure it is. I intend to do better every time, but every week the children have such interesting things to say, so we don’t finish in time.

They are all third culture kids, too, which makes them even more interesting and engaging. They are surprisingly unawkward or bashful about the Cherub. They wave at her when they come in, and they are curious about and interested in her, but as another human being, different from those they have known so far, but very much still another person, not an oddity. It’s hard to explain, but it’s really cool to observe.

To get to school, the Cherub and I walk. If we took a cab it would cost about 1.50, and that seems silly for a 20 minute walk (it’s 10 minutes for my husband, 20 for us). If we took a bike it would be maybe .50 cents, and I would do that if I happened on a free bike soon enough on our walk, but mostly, I don’t. By Bike, this is the kind of thing I mean: https://thumbs.dreamstime.com/z/philippine-land-transportat…

Most of our walk is fine, although the road is uneven in our neighborhood and sometimes we stumble because of that, and this country is blazing hot, so when we arrive I am tomato faced and dripping in sweat.  I lost my umbrella or I would use it like every smart Asian lady, to avoid the heat of the sun.  Today I brought along a cotton scarf and tossed it over my head for relief from the sun, and it worked, in case you wonder.  I often see Filipinos out and about with random things on their heads for sun protection- a wash cloth, a t-shirt, a towel, the t-shirt they were wearing earlier (common attire for young men of a certain age and time of day, basket ball shorts, flip flops, and a t-shirt on their heads).

There are also three of four of the men from the neighborhood sitting in the shade outside of the sari-sari store visiting as we walk by.  Half a dozen neighborhood dogs are panting in the shade by the side of the road.  We usually pass a carabao or two (once three of them). It sounds quite rural, and our actual neighborhood is.   But then we turn the corner, leave our area and come to a very busy thoroughfare.  And here there is one short stretch of road that is very, very busy, on a curve, and has no sidewalk, so we have to walk in the street. (or the mud on a rainy day, as we did last week).
In the U.S. this would be a nightmare, and I own I do not love that stretch. But, again, here they drive defensively, not offensively (mostly, I did spy a taxi deliberately bump into a dog that wouldn’t move today). As vehicles round that curve and see us, they slow down, pull far over to the center of the road. Even vehicles coming the opposite direction slow a bit and hug the curb to give the drivers on our side of the road room to give us a wide berth.

Last week we had to take our walk here in between two horrific rain storms. I figured I’d end up with mud splattered all over me, because I didn’t see how vehicles could avoid splashing through mud puddles nearby and splattering some on us- but they did. They slowed down to a gentle roll when puddles near us were unavoidable, even the massive garbage filled dumptruck (which had, we saw as it came nearer, large letters on the front bumper spelling out ‘God bless you.’).

The courtesy behind the wheel remains one of the most delightful differences between there and here to me.

Note 1: yes, there are things I won’t miss when I go home, but I am still very much in observation mode, no place is perfect anyway, and I am a guest. I’ll let people who call this home make the criticisms.

Note 2. Carabao= Water Buffalo

Note 3.  The dog was fine. It was a mere tap, really, and the taxi driver had honked twice already.

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