It is going against everything in me to skip the plane part, but I'm thinking you'd probably rather hear about our adventures here first and maybe about the trip later. Am I right?
Ok! So we are here! It is quite warm and our bodies are getting used to constant sweating. I'm figuring out ways to manage it, like two showers a day sometimes, face splashing, baby powder and we certainly wouldn't want to forget the deodorant! Of course, it has only been two days so I am definitely not the expert.
We arrived close to midnight the night before last so we've had two days here now. Yesterday we had breakfast here at the guest house and then we were taken on a little tour around the facilities here. We've met all sorts of nice people and have started to learn a little about what life is like around here.
There is a little playground outside here that the girls enjoy playing on. They also have a play room next to the laundry facilities that we have yet to enjoy.
Look closely at this carousel picture: which of these is not like the others?
This morning Dennis and I both woke up really early (like 2:30 and 3:30am) and thought it was time to get up for breakfast. That was weird. Then of course I had a hard time getting back to sleep. So we'll have to figure that one out. The girls are sleeping in the same room as us and they seem to be waking up around 5:30am. So we'll have to work on that.
After breakfast today our friend who has lived here in the Philippines for several years came by the guest house to see how we were doing and invited us to go out on the town with her. It ended up that a large group of us went together on this excursion. Dennis, Brenda, myself and the kids, our friend with two of her girls, her co-worker, John Burbidge, and a language helper all went.
It really feels like an excursion because we are staying in a nice, comfy guest house that is very North American-ish in many ways.
So the gate opened and we emerged onto the crazy, busy sidewalk. Our first job was to cross the street. Think about a busy downtown Toronto type street. We all grabbed a kid's hand and basically just forced our way across when there was the slightest hint of a gap in traffic. Winnie lost her shoe in the middle of the street. This was a major problem. It took over 5 minutes for us to retrieve the shoe and all end up on the proper side of the street. Winnie was tramatized and kept yelping, "My shoe! My shoe!!!"
Then we got on a jeepney. Squish. Seven to a side no matter what the size of people. I didn't quite know how we picked that particular jeepney over all the other 100's of jeepneys that seemed to be available, but that is what seasoned missionaries help you do. I found out that jeepneys take routes and have a sign displayed on it saying which route it does.
Then we jostled and sped our way through the busy and congested streets. It was fun but perhaps would have been a little harrowing if we hadn't been so excited.
We hopped off at a Christian bookstore. It was really nice and air-conditioned. Here they call it "air-con." They had a really great selection of Bibles for sale. Probably one of the best selections I've ever seen. They also had a ton of non-fiction Christian books and Bible studies. A very nice store I anticipate we will visit again sometime.
After that we walked over to another mode of transportation. I can't remember what it was called- three letters- but it was like an above-ground subway. Dennis' little ticket card somehow got rejected by the machine with the three rotating arms that lets you in (just like at any subway) and so that was a little interesting. Finally a guy let him through another gate. The first train was so full they couldn't fit us on. The second train looked just as full, but we miraculously squished on. I felt sorry for the kids whose noses were literally in people's pant legs, or whatever.
Then we arrived at Shangri-La mall. This is apparently the top of the line mall. It was about 5 stories with lots of escalators (made the girls super happy) and every store you could think of. Some things seemed super North American-like and some things definitely were not. There were fountains, a carousel, and an enormous food court. Oh, and you get your bags checked as you go into the mall. Apparently at some places they even give you a pat-down.
At the mall we got our pictures taken for various IDs that we will be getting in the next few weeks. Our friends also helped all three of us to purchase cell phones which is an absolute essential here. Everyone has to have one since it is so easy to get lost. It isn't like in Canada or the U.S. where a cell phone is super expensive and then the plan is even more. You just buy the phone and put a little chip inside that is your phone number. Then you buy a little card that has some time on it. And you're all set. So Dennis and I now own our first cell phones. Nokia.
There was a Wendy's in the mall and we went there for lunch. As we stood in line one of the workers came to us and wrote down our order on a little slip. Then you go up to the counter, hand the slip to the cashier and pay. Sounds simple, right? Well, it didn't really go well. I ordered and thought that I was understood, but when we got our meals I didn't get mine. My tray with the receipt was whisked away so I couldn't even prove that I had paid for it. I started to think that maybe I hadn't. Our friends helped to sort it out with the manager of the restaurant and finally I had a sandwich in my hand. It was interesting- the first bumble in a series of many, I'm sure!
We came back home in a jeepney and laid down for a little late afternoon siesta. It is hard to wake the girls up when they sleep during the day. They are just like limp little rag dolls and it takes a lot of conjoling to get them up.
Ok, supper is soon and I'd better get off as the laptop is starting to feel quite hot.