Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Shoeless in Manila

This morning I headed out for language helping. I was meeting my teacher at a nearby Jollibee (sort of like a Pilipino McDonald's) for breakfast and then I had planned to go with her to the palengke (market).

I hopped on a jeepney (that, by the way, didn't slow down enough for me to get on without lurching, grr) and got off near the Jollibee. I don't think that particular street corner sees many foreigners because I found myself the center of attention. This is fairly normal and not at all shocking or embarrassing unless... you are like me and somehow manage to trip in front of the crowd on the uneven sidewalk, breaking your flip flop right off your foot. At eight months pregnant. In a bright red shirt. Yes, I think I would stare too.
I aligned the broken sandal with the sole of my foot and shuffled over to the side of a building. Leaning there casually I tried to act like this happens to me everyday. What to do?! Stores here don't open until 10am and this was before 8am. I texted my language helper/knightess in shining armor and asked her to come across the street and meet me. She came, but now there were two of us who didn't know what to do. Finally I mentally calculated the risk of infection ("do I have open sores on my foot? No.") and took the broken shoe off to cross the streets to go to the restaurant. It is amazing how much more aware I was of the little piles of spit, loogies and various trickling streams of liquid of unknown and sketchy origin when barefoot.

We made it to the restaurant and I put my cheeriest smile on to distract the guard at the door from my bare foot. I was afraid he wouldn't allow me inside without shoes!

Beth (my language helper) rescued me by ordering breakfast and making a quick run down to the palengke to buy me a new pair of flip flops. :) I had her record the whole story in Tagalog for my continued listening pleasure over the next year or so.

After I was happily shod we both went back to the palengke where I bought a little baby bed and grass banig mat for about $4. We have a playpen but I was wanting something smaller I could move around from room to room when the baby is tiny and napping. I'm so happy about this little "duyan," or baby hammock. It will do the trick and makes me feel like this baby is definitely entering a different culture than Canada. And that is great, because it reminds me of the mix of culture that now defines our lives.

(Disclaimer: I'm sure this wouldn't pass safety standards in Canada or the U.S. I shall take necessary precautions, don't fear. However, most baby things sold in Canada and the U.S. eventually don't pass safety standards either, right? I'm pretty sure I won't find this basket on a recall list.)


pat ve said...

I just laughed about the flip-flop trouble. Not that it was at all funny, but being in the PH. w/o shoes!! Didn' one of their president's wives have a record amount of shoes? Didn't you have 32 pr. of shoes that we either took up for you before you were married, or you sorted from before you left Lincoln?
So good of your friend/teacher to help you out. :)

laughwithusblog said...

Oh this would happen to me! :) I loved reading your story!

aliann said...

Thanks for sharing your story. You're so sweet and good natured to even tell it her - I might be stewing about it if I were you! (Hopefully not, though!)
I love the little basket bed and that your new little one will truly share both cultures.