Thursday, August 03, 2006

we are no longer pissed

So everything ended up working out because we are awesome. Actually it's our RM who's awesome, we're just pretty cool. We filled out all the paperwork and then wrote a letter to him explaining the situation, so he gave us the green light and now my hands smell like bleach from scrubbing our new place. It's in surprisingly good shape, just a little dirty from sitting empty for a while. I personally think we got a sweet deal, because after seeing the other crap for rent around here, we're actually living somewhere that doesn't smell like piss or have huge leaking problems. It's two stories, the bottom floor is just an open room, with a bathroom and a kitchen at the end of it. The bathroom is pretty scary, we're going to have to do some work on it so we don't feel like we're showering in a killer's basement. We have a little space out back for doing laundry and we were thinking about making a place to sit, but the communal river of funk flows (or rather stagnates) back there, so I don't think we'll be doing much relaxing there. The river of funk is basically the runoff water from people's kitchens and bathrooms. Here in the city the toilet drains somewhere (septic tank, central system, I don't know), but all other drains lead outside. You can see light through the kitchen sink because it's just a pipe that pops out of the back of the house, and the bathroom drain (for shower water) is literally just a hole at the bottom of the wall. So this water drains out of everyone's house on the block and collects in a ditch that runs along the back of everyone's property. It's not really angled from what I can tell, so the water just tends to sit there and look horrible.

Upstairs is really the selling point of the house. It's two big, open rooms with actual closets and tons of windows. The entire wall is all windows, more or less. So it's very breezy and light up there, which really helps accent the hard wood floors. That's right, hard wood floors. How cool is that? The house also happens to be in a very nice part of town that has cute little streets with lots of families and people out in the street at night, hanging out. It's also a 10 minute walk to my work and a 5 minute walk to abby's work, so we won't have to spend a bunch of money taking the tricycles back and forth. And, there's a sweet bar right down the street. So all in all we're very excited. We've been shopping for things for the house, but had to go to Batangas across the bay to get some things for cheaper. We have all the basics now, plates and cups, a pot and a pan, buckets for showering, tubs for washing clothes, a double burner... We also bought a sofa set that's a sofa, two armchairs and two tables. It's not really a sofa though, maybe calling it a futon that doesn't fold down would be a better description. The tables will come in handy because now we have somewhere to eat. We're also getting a fridge because we can afford one here. The funny thing about the Peace Corps is that we make a decent amount by filipino standards. A while ago I was reading our provincial profile at work and they had the households divided up into tiers based on their annual income. The top bracket was P500,000+ a year ($10,000), the second bracket was P250,000-500,000, which is where we fall. So even as volunteers we make more than about %85 of the population on our island. An interesting side note to that is that the average annual income of a family of 8 here on Oriental Mindoro is p88,000 ($1,690). Things are cheap here, but not THAT cheap.

This week I went with 8 of my coworkers (all in the same car) down to Bulalacao, which is our southern-most municipality. It's not too far distance-wise, but it takes forever to get there, partly because the last 30km takes 2 hours to travel. We have a pretty nice main 2 lane highway here, because a while ago the national government decided to make Oriental Mindoro an alternate route down to the Visayas. However, once you pass the town of Roxas, where the port is, they didn't feel like putting any more money into the project, so it peeters out into a rocky mud pit. It's beautiful country down there though, kind of like a tropical Scottish highlands with mist covered green hills and a lush carpeting of rice fields. It is also home to a lot of the indigenous Mangyans and the worst poverty on the island. It's where you get down to ramshackle bamboo huts and no electricity or water. Bulalacao is a fairly nondescript, sleepy little town with great fish. If you're into eating endangered fish you can get some yellow fin tuna down there for about $1.50 a kilo. We went down there to have a meeting with some fisherman, but it was mostly an excuse for all of us to go somewhere and hang out, which was fine with me. I'm slowly accepting the pace of work here, which is good for me because I feel less bored and annoyed. My job continues to be my one sticking point, but things are happening and I guess that why we're here for 2 years: because it takes 6 months to even begin to start to think about doing something!


Anonymous said...

Glad you have the apt. Patience Pays Love, Gram C.

Anonymous said...

Hey it's Mark - just jumped on your site where in Mindoro are you? I was on that island and stayed in Sabong and White Beach. I vaguely remember doing the "walk of life" at a bar in Sabong. Hit me up on my work email