Life continues on here in the Philippines. I have been working, reading, sleeping, watching movies, exercising, and generally having a good time. The most exciting part of the past several weeks was my trip to another island. I went there with work because two of our girls are from the island of Bohol and they were having a group family visit for the day. The day was book-ended by long travel times that left my body aching afterwards, but the middle section made up for the inconvenience. We went last weekend and I had to wake up at four in the morning in order to meet them thirty minutes later. For anyone who has ever lived with me, I do not wake up well for everyday events, so waking up this early was already the kicker. We were then driven an hour away to a port to catch our ferry. Upon reaching the port we found out our ferry was cancelled which meant we had to wait an extra hour and a half before another boat left. We finally boarded the two hour ferry ride and headed to the island of Bohol.
Once we made it there, we waited for about thirty minutes until one of the families arrived with their boat to take us to another small island. There we picked up the family members for our two girls and visited their homes for a short while. One of the homes had absolutely no furniture, was built on stilts right next to the water, and had bamboo slats for a floor. I prayed the entire time that I would not break their floor and go crashing through to the shore. It also made me realize how difficult it must be for our girls to visit their families living in such poverty when they are being taken care of so well at the shelter. They had each taken a bag of food to give to their families, but it was a trying realization of how it must sadden them. However, on this day they were just excited to see their families and spend several hours with them.
We then loaded all of the people onto the boat with us and headed towards the open water. It was very interesting because even though we had just been to three separate islands to pick up everyone, the ocean floor remained shallow even far away from them all. The water was a beautiful emerald color and you could see the sand and fish below. We eventually stopped and let down the anchor once the islands were small little dots, and the women began to take out all the food they had brought and put it on the sides of the boat. We all sat in various locations of the small vessel and began to eat a meal entirely out of delicious seafood! I had some rice and veggies as filler but then began to eat my weight in fresh crab. It was not my intention, but once my pile started to diminish, one of the mothers would crack open another crab for me – and on this went for some time.
The others began jumping off the side to swim in the cool water, they would then climb aboard and eat some, and then repeat the process. I just stuck with eating and then took a glorious rest in the shade of boat. It was one of those perfect moments when the scenery is breathtaking, the food is delicious, the weather is surprisingly comfortable, and everyone is having a good time. It was such a wonderful experience! However, we then had to come back home which posed slightly challenging. I will just say that it took a while and I did not reach home until about ten that evening. My body hated me – especially because there were absolutely no bathrooms on any of the islands we had been until coming home – but it was still a glorious day. Probably one of my favorites since being in the Philippines.
This past week I have been working at the shelter and continuing to find my niche there. My host family is still going really well and one of my sister has agreed to be my language tutor when she comes home on the weekends. With Peace Corps policy I only have to live there for three months and then I have the option of moving out on my own, but I decided this week that I will continue living with my family. They are wonderful people who give me love and privacy. What more could I need? Plus they make up about half the people I know here so why would I actually move away from them? Having made this decision I rearranged my room and am having a bookcase made to make my stay more comfy. I am very excited about this decision and I hope they are too. The only frustrations I have living here are my obnoxiously loud neighbors and the feline gang that has rumbles during the night outside of my window, but these are tolerable considering how great my family is 🙂
I will write again soon…hopefully. Much love!