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Saturday, November 8, 2008

A First For Everything

Thursday night schools were canceled for the Level 1 storm. I made sure my sliding door leading to the patio was greased and ready to open to get outside quickly, not that I wanted to escape, but I wanted to feel the force of the "Big" storm. It was my first Level 1 Tropical Storm. As I have mentioned before I am a big fan of big rain. I will have to wait patiently again for that first. Nothing more than a few drops.
Thursday afternoon I had invited some friends over for dinner. It was about 10 people. Here's the breakdown of who was here. I was here, I think, my friend Mira, her t
wo nieces Rose who is 10 and Nikki who is 8, her teenage nephew Katrina who is 16, a 8 year old cousin of Mira named Jeff. Then 2 teenage siblings brother and sister Harme 15 and Harmin 16. Harme and Harmin have younger brothers, one that is 2 whose name is Harvin, another
brother that is 4 whose name is Harold. Also three sisters all over 20. Harold and Harvin didn't stay. There mother is 44. A woman named Anna who is one of the 3 sisters over 20.
When the Level 1 storm was declared all my guests asked if they could stay
the night.(All the kids) Sure why not. Let me say that kids didn't leave till late Saturday night. I think that was the plan from the beginning. Nikki and Rose had never been in air conditioning and had never taken a real shower. They were very cute girls. One speaking great English the other not a word. I had brought a few children's books for the kids, and they all loved to read to me.
Friday was a wash out with a steady rain, no where to go and also one person feeling under the weather so we decided to just hang around the house. The kids woke about 5am running around singing "Fruit Salad Yummy Yummy"(The Wiggles) which I had introduced via Itunes last night while gulping down a Philippine favorite Fruit Salad. The kids all thought my singing was funny, so I had to prove it was a real song.
After a 5am wake up I thought by lunch the kids would be climbing the walls. I had seen on the Internet and in the paper an add for Jolibee delivery. Jolibee is the Philippine equivalent of Kentucky Fried Chicken dropped 10 levels. The options are chicken, spaghetti and burgers. We called to find out about delivery; need a minimum delivery of 200 pesos we were told. That is about $4.00 USA. Upon it's delivery and my immediate stomach ache the kids were clapping to me, it seems again it was the first time to have this delicacy for some of them, and the last time for others. They were all happy, and so was I!!Feeling a bit under the weather on Friday night I headed off for an early slumber. The kids were advised to be quite and they were exceptionally well behaved. During the night I did open an eye to the sound of a pretty heavy downpour, but that was it, just an eye and back to dreamland. The next thing I heard was "Fruit Salad Yummy Yummy" coming from outside. It's 6:30am. This time I did get up and went out on the balcony. All my guests were in there skivvies running around in the still pouring rain. They were having a ball, and it did bring a smile to my face.
They even had soap. When a rain like this comes it means it's shower time. Most bathing for these kids is filling a big bucket and using a ladle. It's effective but surely not as easy and comforting as a hot shower. But the downpour is also a great and fun way for the kids to bathe.
I told them to take a hot shower when they came back in and they looked at me like I had three heads. Who am I!!
When I traveled into the mountains recently I kept seeing all these plastic barrels along the sides of the roads. In many countries where rain falls hard, there are deep channels along the sides of the roads. The channels are to catch the water that is coming off the side of the mountains, and divert it before it cause flooding and land damage, and with the way it rains here it can be a lot of rain at once. Anyway the plastic barrels are to collect water from the rain to wash clothes. That was my first discovery of the uses of mountain rain. Still traveling along the mountain roads I came to and discovered something interesting.
It was actual cement tanks or catch basins, that caught the heavy rain. But these tanks acted as holding tanks for shower stations. People were lined up, bathing themselves in there clothes. We passed several stations and it was the same at all. People soaping up in there clothes and showering next to the road. I thought to stop for pictures, but I also thought a good way to get beat up. Off we went!!!
So after the kids came in and dried themselves from there rain showers, and declared they were all hungry, I announced that they would be going to the movies and to the mall. It is barely $2.00 per person to go to a first run movie here. 3 of the 5 kids had never been to a movie, and the one little girl Nikki almost cried as the lights dimmed in the theatre. It was her first movie, and the dark was a new concept also. After the movie I asked how they had liked it, and if they had a good time? "It was like watching a huge TV in the mall" Jeff said. "I didn't understand it, but it was really fun eating popcorn, and fun to watch the other people laughing."

Reading my blog back to myself today, I kept thinking that this is a boring addition. Is this it, don't I have anything more exciting? I thought. Maybe I should wait till tomorrow, I haven't been sleeping well and I am particularly tired, almost asleep as I write. But then I thought about this past weekend and how all the kids are already asking/expecting to return this coming weekend. It was kept from me until today that the kids cried all the way home. Rose cried because she had so much fun, and now she had to go back and take care of her sister.
These simple little activities that these kids experienced this weekend were what was fun for all of us 35 years ago or before. This weekend was a step back in time, running around in a rain storm, watching old Superman episodes on the "computer", playing cops and robbers, even eating popcorn and going to the movies.
Even in my thought of all this being boring, and maybe this has been boring to read, the idea that such little things can make these kids so happy. I learned a lot through this last weekend. It's amazing what kids can teach you. But like anything you have to be willing to listen to the silence!!

Friday, November 7, 2008

I Went Down To The Crossroads

Now that the election is history, the celebration of the First Black President continues. 
The world is celebrating the victory of all victories.  Now the next step for all of us, I hope, is that at some point very soon we can start referring to Barack Obama as the New President of The United States, and not the first Black President of the United States.  The USA has turned a corner of history.  Now hopefully each and every one of us that feel it so easy to use racial, social, and religious slang will some how find a way to cease and desist and finally leave our ignorant prejudices behind. Please it's enough.  No more racial/religious slurs it's ignorant and it's offensive to every one of us that lives and breathes.  Good luck to Barack Obama..
Today I took a friend to the dentist.  I noticed she kept covering her mouth when she spoke and finally I asked what was wrong.  She said she had a toothache.  I gave her some Tylenol which at first she was scared to take.  Two hours later
she came over to say she was feeling better.  The next day I saw her from a distance, and saw her holding her hand to her mouth again.  I waited to see if she would approach me.  People are very shy here!  Very timidly, she asked? "can I have some more of your pills?"  I was happy to give as many as she needed.  I asked about her tooth. "Can I see it?" I asked?  I only needed one quick look.  "That tooth is broken, you need a dentist!" I said.  She laughed.  I knew from her laugh, who was I kidding.  She had no money.
This tooth would just get worse and worse, until who knows what happens when this type of thing is left alone.    I heard after the fact that a woman had gone to a local medicine man for a tooth extraction, she went directly back to work, because she was afraid of losing her job, and died a few days later. 
Sorry not sure of the exact reason of her early demise.  I sent a text to my landlady, and she advised me of a dentist, and off we went.  I new the pain that this girl was having, and I couldn't consciously look at her when she was in pain. Because I called the landlady, and she was more of someone with some connections, she sent me to a dentist that hopefully had a little more than most of the other dentists around here. From some experiences of people needing dental care here it seems a little rough.  You go the Dentist, sit down in the chair, describe your ailment, and the Doc will send you to the drugstore with the list of medicines you will need.  The quantity and the importance listed in order.  If he tells you you need four injections of Novocaine and you only have enough for one, well that's just the way it goes.  You can take care of it with one, and the Doc will do whatever you want.  Luckily I didn't witness this treatment, but it is the precedent here.

Not one for waiting in long lines or doctors offices, we dropped our patient off and sojourned to the local yacht club for some refreshments.  The yacht club is run by a guy named Steve.  He is from England and has the exact same accent of Cary Grant.  He sat with us the last time we were there, and drank red wine and smoked Marlboro Reds.  I couldn't place his accent at first, and then I said, "you sound like Cary Grant."  He laughed.  "Where you from?"  I asked.  
"England" He said.
"I know, but where."
"Town called Bristol."  He said.
"I don't have the best memory but I would almost bet that Cary Grant is from Bristol."  I said.
Doing a little fact checking as I write this, because I certainly don't want to let any of you astray, I have discovered and just patted myself on the back, that Cary Grant and Steve the Proprietor of the Cebu Yacht Club are indeed cut from the same cloth. 
The Cebu Yacht Club is not what you envision, but a very laid back bar and restaurant of particularly not the greatest food, and actually limited alcohol.  It is one of the only cheap places around that sits near the sea, and I'm particularly fond of that. The clientele is a bunch of scruffy and unshaven American, British and Aussie men, usually but not always with there Filipino girlfriends.
The other day we walked into "the yacht club" and two as I described above scruffy and unshaven men sat opposite each other.  At first glance I didn't take much notice of them, but something made me look again and immediately the first man looked familiar.  When I rounded the other side of the table, the other man also looked slightly familiar also.  Not like I ever met either one of them before, but just looked familiar. Cebu, Philippines is a place you can get lost, or hide or just disappear from the world if you want too.  I wasn't about to disturb there peace.
As our meal continued I kept hearing bits and pieces from these two men conversation.
  The one looked liked Dave Stewart from the Eurythmics, and the other was a Bob Geldoff twin.  The one part of the conversation I did distinctly hear was "that was after my first Emmy nomination."  I didn't think much of any of it, because it really wasn't much, but just funny when you have those brushes with nothing.
Meanwhile the young lady that had that nasty tooth ripped from her head, was no worse for ware except now where that tooth lived there a was a big gaping bloody wound.  
It's been awhile since I punished myself with a tooth extraction, and I may be completely wrong, but I think the last time they pulled my teeth they packed the gaping wound with something.  Not this one, just blood and raw flesh...