This time of year brings on all kinds activity, both back home in the Philippines and here in the States. Some of it has to do with the weather and rain in particular.
Back home, the rainy season is the right time of year to plant rice. The rains help farmers prepare the land – flooding the fields and making it easier to work the soil. The flooded fields make perfect rice paddies.
Here, the rain also dictates when one can work with the land, albeit in a totally opposite way. You can’t mow the grass or work in the garden while it’s raining – that’s reserved for drier days. So far, our vacation has included more that our fair share of rains, thunderstorms and weather warnings.
WHAT TO DO ON RAINY DAYS?
Folks back home in Pasuquin have no problem finding things to do on both dry and wet days. I miss that. Here, there are limits to what can be accomplished on a rainy day. With all of the wetness over the past few weeks, you can put two plus two together to arrive at four: I haven’t been up to much lately.
After all, what is there to do when the “cats and dogs” start raining down on you? Well, there are a few things, I guess. Baket ko (Asawa ko) [my Wife] has taken charge of rainy day activities and has provided me with one answer – shopping.
Shopping takes on a whole new dimension when we are on vacation in the States. Regardless of where the shopping occurs – grocery shopping, clothes shopping, this-and-that shopping – the shopping basket fills up twice as fast as it had in earlier, pre-move to the Philippines years. The reason? We buy two instead of one, four instead of two, and so on. It’s shopping gone wild.
Why buy so much? That’s a good question as there’s only the two of us doing the buying and consuming. We do it, though, looking forward to the future. In that shopping basket are items we like, and out likes aren’t seasonal. We like them year-round. Most of the items in which we indulge ourselves while shopping are not easily available back home in Pasuquin. Our buying excesses are meant to take care of that situation. We are (what we call), “shopping for the box.”
SHOPPING FOR THE BOX
The cash register receipts usually tell the story. Of course, we’ll shop where the bargains are so that we have volume for our money. Large receipt totals indicate that there will be some Balikbayan box packing and shipping in our near future. Before the packing, however, we need to get some boxes.
Luckily for us, we still had some “box credit” at the Asian store where we shipped last year’s boxes. Normally, customers of some shipping companies purchase their first box or two. Then, at shipping time, the customer receives a new box as a replacement for each box shipped. Our shipper was “out of stock” box-wise when we sent our last couple of boxes. We picked up a couple of new boxes from that shipper the other day, and received some sad information.
Our regular shipper had switched their processes, to include a different shipping franchise and an increase in the cost of shipping. The price increase was only about $10 – $15. That’s reasonable, as everything costs more these day, including fuel costs. The changes in their processes, however, are a little harder to take.
The route our Balikbayan boxes take goes first to Chicago and then to Los Angeles. The owner of the Asian store use to take accumulated boxes to Chicago every other week. After delivering them to the shipping franchise depot, he’d visit other markets, pick up merchandise, and return. The boxes still go via Chicago and Los Angeles. The change is that a different franchise is handling the trip to Chicago now, and the shipping schedule is irregular. Shipping dates now relate to the number of boxes that are ready for shipping.
IT’S TIME TO SHIP
With boxes at the ready and the number of contents ever-growing, it’s time to start working. Assembling the box is the easy part. Packing it so that the maximum number of items can be shipped isn’t that easy. Arranging and rearranging and further rearranging is the order of the day. It took a while, but we were successful. A nice, full, heavy box ready for shipping.
Always in search of a bargain, Baket ko (Asawa ko) [my Wife] decided that we needed to search out other shipping franchises in our area and see who offered the best service for the least cost. We spoke with agents for a few companies – LBC, Forex, Global – and obtained price lists and pick-up / shipping schedules.
After careful review of all the information, we decided to go ahead and continue using the Asian store – at least for the first few boxes. It’s still early in our vacation and the first few boxes should arrive back home before we do. We still have the option to change shippers, if the first couple go astray. Fingers crossed.