Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tick Tock, Tick Tock

Well it has finally hit me.  I REALLY am almost done.  The clock is really running out now.  Only eight weeks to go until the big COS--- Close of Service.  It’s time.  Not in a bad way; not like I’m sick of it and want to get out.  Not that at all.  But I’m just in a good place, at peace with everything and ready to move on.  Ready to get to my three months of traveling, and SUPER ready to be home!!!

Today is the Nutrition Month celebration—naturally someone brought in a dessert made of heavy cream.  Hahaha  J  And three of the teachers are sitting behind the school chewing betelnut (similar to chewing tobacco, but it’s a nut which turns your teeth and mouth red--- Google “Ifugao men betelnut” and I’m sure you’ll see some pictures).  Not much research has been done on the long-term effects of chewing betelnut (pronounced beetle-nut, also known as moma, pronounced moh-muh), but some research has shown that it’s a carcinogen.   However, it’s a cultural tradition here in Ifugao, and almost all men chew it.  Women do as well, but not as many.  It makes my top 10 list of most disgusting things I’ve seen in my life.  I don’t like to talk bad about my province, which I love dearly, but I have to say this is something I am SO not proud of.  It’s so gross.  Like chewing tobacco, you also spit it, however betelnut doesn’t wash off of anything.  Therefore almost anywhere you go in Ifugao, the streets are stained bright red from people spitting everywhere.  I’m not painting a pretty picture here, I realize this, but I’m just stating the truth.  I’ve never tried it, but a few of my friends have and they said it actually gives you a “buzz” similar to an alcohol buzz.  What’s really bad is that some parents will even allow their kids to chew it—I’ve seen children as young as 3 with wads of red betelnut in their mouths.  It’s sad.  Nevertheless it’s a cultural thing and for some reason they’re proud of it… so who am I to judge?  But as an outsider, I’m not a fan of it.  And when locals ask me why I haven’t found myself an Ifugao boyfriend… well, just look at those Google images and you’ll see why.

Don’t let my anecdote about betelnut taint your view of Ifugao.  I have MAJOR Ifugao pride!  I feel super lucky to live here, and I honestly wouldn’t want to be anywhere else!  They still value their cultural roots and traditions, they’re always helpful and friendly, and they have completely welcomed me into their lives.  I love Ifugao!  …But not the betelnut ;)

We’re in the middle of rainy season which is both good and bad.  Good because thank GOODness it’s not as hot as rainy season anymore!  I even wear pants instead of shorts for pj’s some nights.  The other day I even put a hoodie on to go to the market!  LOVELY.  And as I sit at my desk at school now, a cool breeze is blowing through the windows.  Fabulous.  However the tricky part is that it rains almost every afternoon.  And not just rain, but torrential rain.  The torrents (is that the noun form?) will only last for about an hour usually, but the rain goes on usually from 4-8 at least.  I don’t mind rain, but honestly my gripe is that my pants get muddy easily, which means I have to wash them more often.  Hahahah gosh that makes me sound gross.  But since laundry has to be handwashed, and is therefore more of a hassle, I prefer getting a few uses out of my pants before they go in the laundry.  However that means when mud gets splattered all over them, I’m out of luck.  Other than my pants, rainy season is kind of nice.  Like I said, it’s a little cooler, plus I like the sound of rain on my tin roof.  It’s peaceful.  And on weekend mornings it’s nice to lie in bed and listen to the rain.  Plus one of my landlady’s dogs always sleeps outside my door because there’s an overhang and he doesn’t get wet.  It’s so cute when I open the door in the morning and see him lying there, my guard dog.  Reminds me of Lucy and Tess.  Hahah it just started to rain outside.  4:30pm, as expected.

The next few weeks will be busy busy, but then I’m done, as far as work projects go.  This weekend I’m facilitating at a stress management seminar at my friend’s site in Cagayan.  Then we’re going on a tour of the Duba Underground River and Blue Water caves!  Cagayan is the hottest province in the Philippines, so I’ll be glad to be spending a lot of the time in caves… hahah J  Right from there I’m headed down to Manila and hopping on a plane to Bohol!  My friend and I (Batch 270 volunteers) were asked to attend the Batch 271 Close of Service conference, as support for the volunteers who are extending for a third year.  We’re going to run a session on expectations vs. realities of the third year, coping strategies, and general Q&A.  I wish we had had a 269 extendee come to our COS conference last year, because it would’ve been great to have someone to talk to and ask questions.  I really had no idea what was ahead of me.  No clue what to expect.  And it was okay, but I would’ve liked a heads up from someone who had experienced the third year.  For me, my third year has been the most difficult of my service.  However, it has also been the most rewarding.  I would never take back my decision to stay; I’m SO happy I did.  I’m really glad that I can be there for the 271s to give them advice or put them at ease.  I think it’ll be really helpful.  And for me, I love doing this sort of thing.  Supporting people, listening to them and talking things through.  I love it.  So I’m super excited.  (Plus it’s at a fancy schmancy hotel in Bohol!  Can’t complain!)

Right after that, my friend and I will go from the conference to the Peace Corps office and close out our grant for the girl’s camp.  I have a bunch of errands and other work I need to do there and around Manila, so we’ll be productive for a day or so, and then head to Batangas for a quick beach weekend.  It’ll be my last trip to the beach in the Philippines.  Hopefully we get some good sun and snorkeling in!  After Batangas I’m traveling right up to site, where I’ll be preparing… for another Girls Leading Our World camp at the local college the 16th-17th!  Our GLOW camps with high schoolers this summer were awesome, so I’m super excited to do it with college girls.  I’m going to have PCVs come up and help again.  Yay!  After that weekend I’ll have a day of school, then take the overnight bus to Manila because my friends and I got tickets to Showtime!  Showtime is a TV show here in the Philippines, and it’s on every single day for what seems like the whole day.  Honestly I don’t exactly know, because I don’t have a TV and I’ve never watched a full episode.  It just seems that when I’m out and about and see TVs on, any time of the day it seems Showtime is on.  It’s an entertainment show where people come and do performances, sometimes there are challenges to win prizes, and lots of people come dressed up in matching clothes or special outfits to get the attention of the hosts.  There’s typically audience participation in every episode, so my friends and I are going to dress up at Uncle Sams and Lady Liberties, in hopes of getting noticed!  (I doubt we’d be missed though, anyways, as the only Americans in the crowd, but whatev).  I’m really excited.  It’s a pretty awesome, unique opportunity to see Showtime.  Yeeeeeah!

Anyways, after Showtime, I’m hopping on the overnight bus again back to site.  I have all day Wednesday to prepare, because Thursday and Saturday I’m doing another GLOW camp for the girls at my school!  One of my friends is coming up to help, but otherwise I’m going to have our students who came to the summer camp be the facilitators!  It’s another opportunity for them to gain some leadership experience.  Love it!  So after that camp, I’m DUNZO!  I’ll of course still be going to work every day, but it’ll be pretty chill.  Nothing major to plan or get ready for, other than saying goodbye L  So it’ll be really nice to have a month to just soak it all in.  Life here.  I know I’m going to miss it a ton, so I’m glad I won’t be spending the last month frantically running around like I often am, with a zillion things on my plate.  It’ll be a good transition to the end.  *Sigh*  The end…


At August 12, 2014 at 3:17 PM , Blogger Erika Marchant said...

I'm so jealous of showtime!!


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