You know, over the past couple of years that I’ve been writing on this site, I have commented many times that living in the Philippines requires adjustments. Not everything is the same here as it was “back home,” so you have to make changes in the way you live.
Before you’ve made the changes in your life you tend to get upset or annoyed because things aren’t going just the way that you like. Over time, though, you will find that those annoyances become fewer.
Let’s look at a few things that I can definitely say that I’ve made the adjustment on:
Showering. You know, living in the Philippines there are plenty of times when there is no water coming from the pipes! Why? I can’t say for sure, but either the water pressure is very low, or none at all. It happens pretty regularly, although a lot less these days compared to years past. For this reason, many people in the Philippines will have a big bucket full of water in their bathroom, for use when water is not available from the tap. You also have a little tool called a “tabo” which is a small “scoop bucket” with a handle. You use this tabo to take water from the big bucket and pour it over yourself. When we first moved here, we had a big bucket of water that was probably around 20 gallons or so, I would guess. That amount of water was not enough for me to take a good shower, though. I’d need two of those, so I needed around 40 gallons of water all together. The other day when I needed to take a shower there was no water, and I had to resort to the tabo again (it had been quite a while). Currently, we have a small bucket that is only 10 gallons for our reserve water. You know what? I took a complete shower with only about 1/4 of that small bucket! Wow! So, I only used 2 1/2 to 3 gallons of water to complete my shower! Now, that is progress! I’d say that I’ve successfully made the adjustment when it comes to water use!
Crowded stores. When we first moved to the Philippines, if I went to the store and there were ten people waiting in line to pay for their goods, I’d think to myself: “oh my, there are a lot of people waiting in line! I think I’ll come back another time.” Of course, that “other time” never came, because there are always a lot of people in lines here! Now, when I walk in the store and see ten people waiting to pay for their purchase, I think to myself “Wow, only ten people in line! What a blessing!” Ha ha… things have changed in that respect. I’ve made the adjustment!
Driving. Driving is an area where big adjustment is needed. If the road has two lanes, you can bet that there will be four real lanes of traffic squeezed in! If there is a lot of traffic clogging up the road in front of you, just use the other side of the road, even if there is oncoming traffic! Worry about those oncoming cars when you get to them, in the meantime you can get an extra 50 feet by using the other side of the road! Now, that took adjustment! You know what, now, when I am in clogged up traffic and I see that there is a space ahead that I can squeeze into, I go for it! No thinking about it and letting somebody else grab it ahead of me, I just take it! Check this one off… I’m adjusted!
Mealtime. You know, in the Philippines the food you eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner doesn’t really matter. In other words, in the States you would not eat a hot dog for breakfast, that simply is not a “breakfast food” after all. Here, people eat anything for breakfast. Spaghetti left over from the night before? Hey, that’s a great breakfast! Well, I’m not there yet where I eat hot dogs or spaghetti for breakfast, but I am noticing a shift. A few weeks ago, I found these “Spicy Chicken Patties” at our local butcher shop. They are pre-seasoned spicy hamburger patties made with ground chicken. Normally, I don’t go for these “prepared foods,” but Feyma was out of town, and I was kind of fending for myself on this particular weekend, so I thought these would be easy to prepare – no hassles, so I bought some. I liked them so much that I am having Feyma buy them now. You know what… I’ve been eating them for breakfast quite a bit too! Can hot dogs and spaghetti be much further down the road? Well, I’m not quite adjusted all the way yet, but it seems that I am on the road.
Durian. The King of Fruits. They say it “Smells like hell, but it tastes like heaven.” When I first moved here, I gagged every time I was around Durian, I hated the smell! The taste? Don’t even ask, because the smell was revolting enough, how could anybody eat it? Well… I’ve been here 8 years now and now, when I am driving past a fruit stand, I roll my windows down so that I can savor the fragrance of the Durian (notice, it used to be the “smell” of durian, now it is a “fragrance”). Do I eat it? I love the stuff! Just this past weekend I was out for Coffee with John Grant and enjoyed a delicious Grande Durian Gatchpuccinno coffee! Big pieces of durian fruit awaited me at the bottom of the cup, which I gladly savored as I ate it after the coffee was gone! Nothing is better. Yep, I’m fully adjusted here.
Seasons. When you first come to the Philippines (this would apply to any country in the tropics) it is hard to adjust to the fact that there really are no seasons (Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall). In some parts of the Philippines they have the dry season and the wet season, but down here in Mindanao where I live our weather is fairly constant throughout the year. It gets slightly warmer during the “summer” months of March through May, but not too much difference. It’s hard to adjust to. However, I find that after a while of living in this type of climate, you tend to just forget what part of the year it is. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even plan to include this topic in my column today, but when I went to set the date that it would be posted to the Internet, I noticed that it is June already. When I saw “June” in the control panel for this site, I though, “Oh my, it’s June.” Actually, before seeing that, what part of the year it was is something that I hadn’t even thought about. June? August? December? Heck, they are all the same anyway. I often find that it’s hard to keep up with what month it is, unless I stop and think about it!
Well, these are just a few examples of how I’ve adjusted to living in the Philippines. How about you, have you made the adjustment yet? Or, if you don’t live here yet, how do you think you’ll do on adjusting to life in the Islands?