It’s quieter, cleaner and the air does not smell like diesel. And there is something wrong with this picture. I’m walking down a street in the city center and something is missing …. what is it …. horns. Where are the horns? There are no taxis. A foreigner can’t walk down a street in Cebu or Manila without almost every f’ing taxi trying to get his attention with a minimum of three beeps. There are no taxis here, just tricycles (they don’t call them trikes) and saints preserve us, the trikes do not have horns!
What’s this? Sidewalks! I turn the corner and there are more sidewalks. Both sides of the road. Am I dreaming?
Later I buy something at a business that does not cater to foreigners and the clerk doesn’t bat an eye when I hand her a bill that is four times the purchase price. Cebu businesses thing it’s the customer’s duty to keep them in small bills and change, no so here. Exiting the store I realized there was no guard. Most businesses in Cebu have guards on the door. I expect there is a correlation: Less crime means fewer shotgun toting door guards and more change in the til.
On day two I swing by the line of businesses on the inland side of the ocean front park. I’d read there were expat hangouts, that part of the guidebook was true. I stopped here and there to talk to the men who looked like they were residents. They were all friendly. The larger groups allowed me to interrupt their conversation and answer a few questions, when I spoke with the solo and duo occupied tables about half asked if I wanted to sit down. The highlight of the day was sitting with a man who first seemed drunk. Later he told about his motorcycle accident which left him with a touch of vertigo. An Englishwoman friend of his joined him and our senses of humor, irrevence and brain damage clicked. I spent three hours with them.
It’s the end of day three and I haven’t seen a single beggar yet.
One of the biggest problems in Cebu was finding a public place that was quiet enough to easily hear conversation. It was not easy. Sound absorption building materials do not exist in public spaces. If a place has music it has loud music. The background music at a fast food place is loud enough that I think most Americans would walk in an turn right around as the volume was closer to bar level than restaurant level. Dumaguete is just the opposite. I’ve yet to find a public space that was too loud to easily have a conversation. I’m headed for a bar that has live music tonight, I expect that will be the first exception.
Few of the foreigners live in town, preferring instead the towns 5 to 10 kilometers up or down the coast and the one town that is 10 kilometers inland and up the hill, Valencia. More about that later. Also my Dumaguete photos will come later, PhotoBucket is down right now.