I could live here is my preliminary conclusion. Now what?
Dumaguete is small but not too small. Quiet but not too quiet. My upper respiratory system likes the air so far. It will like it better when I do as almost all expats and find a place outside of the city center. Half a day from the big city (Cebu is a $5 trip and 3.5 – 4.5 hours), quicker by air if need be.
The people, both locals and foreigners, are much friendlier than any place I’ve been. The city is nicknamed ‘The City of Gentle People’ and it is evident. Common courtesies that one would expect from people sharing public spaces that are simply not seen in Manila or Cebu are the norm here. This town makes Cebu look like a rat experiment where the cages are over populated until the stress causes the rats to freak out.
Some of the guys here describe it as a ‘mama bear’ sized town. Some like papa bear size, some like baby bear size. My time in the small places has been limited and I knew I was just passing through. Maybe after experiencing a town of 100 thousand people for a while I’ll then be able to put the smaller places in perspective. I don’t know, this is new territory for me.
One way to look at Dumaguete is that it looks good just because the rest of the country is such a hole. There are still the structural problems of this country, some of which are hard to ignore. Just because settling here looks good now is it going to look good 6 months from now?
So what’s next?
I could keep looking down my list of towns and countries. Or travel just for the fun of it. Maybe I should hang here at least a month or two to make sure about how the pollution and my throat interact. Or rent a house for six months and just see what happens.
I do want to see southern Thailand and do so before the next tourist season starts. If I go there as a tourist with beach bum intentions do I derail settling here? If I do, so what? Is moving on in the name of tourism a cover story for the grass is greener syndrome? How would I know if the grass is actually greener unless I go? Why not go to Thailand for a few months, and come back here when the tourism season starts in Thailand.
I do know that I have all the time in the world. Money isn’t much of a factor. I don’t have to get it right the first time. Or the second.