Now What Do I Write About?

I’ve emptied my suitcases, am augmenting the furnished kitchen’s few tools, have learned how to get trike rides from town without being gouged, am meeting my neighbors, their wives and girl friends, and daily building knowledge of this town.

Now what do I write about? Continuing the evaluation of whether I want to live in this country and town will obviously be embedded in living here. I write when the mood strikes, when something happens that makes me jot down a line in my ever present notebook which later gets expanded into rant, when I see or realize something that others on this trek might find useful or when I just feel like babbling

Lately I encounter things which previously would have led to a blog post but don’t write about them. Maybe I’ve said it before. Maybe it seems like just another variation on something I’ve figured out. Maybe my shoulder pain has something to do with it. Maybe I’ve realized that nobody is interested in this stuff except me and my interest is shifting.

I could write about two subjects, friends and females, that I’ve addressed generically up til now. The game has changed on both fronts because I’ve gone from traveler to resident. Still, it seems like to delve into either is a violation their privacy.

Would anybody (all four of you regular readers) be interested in knowing that a trike ride from town the apartment can cost 70 to 80 pesos and the ride back is 10? Or that when I get in a trike with two bags of food and household supplies the driver simply nods when I say ’50 Pesos’ after my destination? A trike has two seats which are comfortable and easy to get into, two that are marginal and then there is side saddle behind the driver. It was touching, but I can’t see writing more than a line or two about the genuine appreciation on her helper’s face when I gave up my comfy seat for an old woman who was walking with the aid of a cane on one side and her helper on the other.

Would it concern you to know that stores sell Teflon coated black anodized aluminum cookware and it’s labeled ‘Cast Iron’? Or that the biggest store in town has only up escalators for its four floors? That there is a used goods store that sells the stuff which was donated to and rejected by Goodwill? How about that brown rice is sold only at the Hypermart and I’ve been advised to hoard it when ever I see it on the shelf? Soy milk is almost as hard to find, but who cares?

The day before I moved in I came out to look at a second apartment that had suddenly become available. One of the owner’s helpers showed it to me. She asked the usual questions (country of origin, on vacation or retired, do you have a wife). She must have liked the answer to the first three questions because then she asked if I had a girl friend. ‘Not right now’ I replied and she asked ‘Do you want one’? leaving no doubt about to whom she was referring. Does anyone want to read about that? If so, you’re out of luck. So was she.

How about that I have to change cell phone plans because the only way to get consistent reception is out by the road or on the second floor? Or that apparently because of the large numbers of American foreigners in town and the small size of the town that the cable has the most channels devoted to American TV shows that I’ve seen in country? Or that it reminds me of something a friend said when we were discussing the relative merits of coeds at Silliman University (an expensive private school that is one of the top 5 or 10 in the country) vs NORSU (Negros ORiental State University)? I’m not sure if it was his opinion, a punch line, or if he was just messing with me, but he said: ‘The NORSU student lives in a boarding house. She’ll go with you just to get cable’.

I can’t imagine anyone cares that it took 20 minutes to extend my visa in Dumaguete and that the previous best time in Cebu was 1h 45m. Or that I’m going to try to use trikes for transport instead of buying a 90cc motorcycle (even though I’ve owned two off-road motorcycles and took a three day street survival course before leaving the states) because the most frequent reason people go to the local emergency room is for motorcycle accidents. Or that one foreigner runs a profitable book rental business. Or that one of my neighbors is a 20-something guy who taught himself web programming, dropped out of school and earns enough to live off from his clients outside the country. Or that in my first ever Texas Hold ’em game (P 100 buy in, $ 2.10) I went all in. Twice. And I know nobody cares that I lost P 200 but learned enough to want to join the next low stakes ‘Novices Only’ game while also managing to have lived in Vegas for 3 1/2 years without ever gambling once. Except with my heart.


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