Monday, October 23, 2006

Keepin' it real

We've really grown to like our site, the city we live in, but recently we found a reason to like it even more. We found a campground up in Puerto Galera that's right on the beach and only p100 ($2) a night person, so we can take a long weekend up there on the beach that includes eating out, going out at night and a few extras (like p200 [$4] hour long massages on the beach) for about p2000 ($40). We recently went up there for a few days (which turned into five) to hang out, and also so I could do a little research for the guidebook I'm writing. I was recently contacted by the guy I know at the World Wildlife Foundation up in Puerto because he had heard I was an English major, and he asked if I would like to help them write their guidebook. Basically they are trying to develop a small guidebook they can sell cheaply to tourists to help generate some income. They actually hired someone to do this for them, but she did such a lame job they scrapped the whole thing, and that's where my will-work-for-free ass comes into the picture. It's actually really exciting to be working on this, because even though it's a small guidebook (passport sized, about 30 pages), it will be completely written by me, and I'm going to assist with the layout and overall design too. On top of that I'm in charge of developing the official Puerto Galera website and I'll be working with them to create a project proposal to increase upland tourism!

They will be giving me a list of the hotels and restaurants they want to include, so in the meantime I walked around the three tourist hotspots and wrote down where basic services were, like internet cafes, banks, grocery stores, public transportation, etc. We also went to some of the tourist attractions they want me to include, one of which was a very nice hike up to a waterfall. In my opinion their problem could be easily fixed with little to no money by simply labeling where the hell stuff is. To actually get to the "trail" that led to the waterfall, we had to ask at least 10 people where it was. Basically we'd walk 50 or 100 meters until we were lost again, stop, ask someone, be told we would never find it and that we needed a guide, and then eventually be pointed in some vague direction. That's the thing about Filipinos: they can't give directions for shit. You ask someone where something is, and the usual response is a lip point in some random direction (they don't point with their fingers, it's rude. They point by making a "kissy face" and nodding their head in the direction they want you to go) and the word "Doon" which means "over there." It was fine for us because we're used to it, but I'm guessing your average tourist isn't going to want to bumble around some little village stopping to ask for directions every 5 minutes. That's where I come in, making simple suggestions like "why don't you put a sign out on the road?" and "tie some colored tape around a tree every now and then so people know they're on the right trail and not some goat path."

The beach itself was really nice. After 3 days there we wanted to leave because in typical American fashion, we were done with what we needed to do and couldn't think of anything else to do. God forbid we spend even an idle minute on vacation! We must be doing something! We eventually loosened up and relaxed and spend the next two days getting up and going for a swim, eating breakfast, going for another swim, reading, eating lunch, swimming, reading, dinner, beer, sleep. I think after 7 months in country we've finally chilled the hell out and are able to enjoy doing nothing at all. It was hard to do, there's 24 years of American upbringing that wouldn't let us sit still, but now a morning where all you accomplish is drinking some coffee and watching the news is quite possibly the greatest thing ever.

No comments: