If you’re continuing from my previous few articles, you’ll be happy to know that I have recovered from my culture shock!!
In fact, the culture has grown on me pretty quickly.
The driving still scares the crap out of me, unless I’m behind the wheel. Yes, you heard me right!! I drove while there! I have to say that it was not bad at all. Mind you, I didn’t go to the “big city”, but rather drove only around the city where my wife is from. It’s still pretty large. I would say about the size of any suburban Detroit area. The only difference is that there were absolutely NO, not one, stop sign, yield sign, or traffic signal. Wait, I take that back. At one bridge we crossed there seemed to be a barricade over half the road and a sign to stop, but I was told to go around it because it was not in use. I assume it is for some sort of military check point if needed.
I seem to be getting around the city pretty well in fact. The van I am driving is not quite the type of vehicle I would own. The seats are situated over the engine compartment, which seriously makes head room an issue for me. So, I drive, but I’m kind of squatted down in my seat like a clown in one of those circus cars, waiting for the time when I can explode out of the vehicle. The windows are tinted on the sides, but anyone looking through the front window can see the big kano driving the van and they point and wave. I’ve even gotten used to the honking when I decide the cars and tricycles in front of me are traveling too slow for my liking. Honk-honk! Move out of the way, kano coming through! My asawa laughs because I have learned to drive like them so fast. We even make it to our destinations every day when I drive!
I will say this one thing, I am glad I didn’t drive to Dagupan City. We hired a driver that each day we went there, and while I was not happy about it at first, I quickly learned that it was a good thing I did. Traffic! And I’m talking about parking lot style traffic. I don’t know what was keeping everyone from moving forward, but we were dead in the middle of it all. Our driver, whom shall remain nameless for his protection, started honking the horn. I’m thinking, why is he honking? Where does he think he is going? Nobody can move. He’s wasting his time, and it’s starting to irritate me. But… the car in front of us moves forward a few inches, and our driver starts to turn in the lane. I don’t know where he is going, but he seems to have a plan. He cuts across the right lane next to use, drives up the curb, and takes the sidewalk!!! Man… at least it’s him going to jail for this and not me, I’m thinking. What was weird to me, is that everyone on the sidewalk began laughing, and let us through. Now that’s a different attitude than Detroit, or anywhere else I’ve been to in the U.S.! After that, I hired him each time we went to Dagupan. If he’s willing to do that to get us to the mall, I’m willing to pay him for getting us there.
My time driving was pretty limited, but it was fun and it made me feel a little less like a tourist, and more like I lived there and belonged. Being from the U.S. I’ve had a license to ride or drive since I was fifteen years old. Going without wheels is something I haven’t had to do since I got my first license. I know everyone says not to worry about buying a car when we get there, but I don’t think I can give up that part of my freedom. Besides, I like to go for drives, so I’d probably have HUGE bills for hiring a driver or tricycle driver for an entire day. And, I’d like to be able to take the family to the beach at least once a week for an outing. I’m told the beaches are great for aching bones and backs like mine! I can’t wait to prove them right!!!
Until next week, paalam, ingat and God bless!