Saturday, February 24, 2007

Steady as she goes

Well, it's been a pretty quiet month for us, just life as usual here. We went to Manila a week ago, both of us, because Abby had to get her final ear check (all healed, she's good to go), and I had to see someone about the allergies I've been having. I've never had allergies before, so it was strange that they would be so severe here, but there are all kinds of reasons. It's getting into summer now, which means dry season, but the last few months have been really wet, with a lot of mold growing. We also have no real way to close our windows, so dust and crap from outside can pretty much come in at will. Also, they're clearing out an empty lot across the street from us to build apartments, which involves burning everything they clear out of the space. They do love setting small brush fires here. So all of that together I guess, led to my allergies.

Also while we were in Manila I bought a bike. We we got here, Peace Corps would reimburse us up to P5000 for a bike, which is about $100, and not really enough for a bike of any quality. Then, in August they randomly upped the amount to P12000, or $240, which is a decent sum, and totally un-Peace Corps. They never up the money for anything! So I went to this bike shop in Manila and looked at all their crap bikes and ended up spending about 2 hrs there with the owner just going through a bike part by part, picking out exactly what I wanted, and then they built it for me there that day. Sweet service! So I now have a nice bike for riding to work, and riding around town, which is awesome because I was really missing my bike from back home.

That's kind of what it came down to here, finding different things to help occupy our time. Of course we have each other, and friends and work, but I was feeling a little bored on and off, and it's not that there's a lack of things to do around here, there are just different options. So we've started going to a gym that's down the street from us, and we're going to start doing some stuff to the apartment where we live to make it a little nicer. But that's mostly Abby's idea, I'm fine with it. The one area I do want to set up is our front area, which would be a nice place to sit, especially now that it's getting hotter.

Something I do miss from back home that I didn't realize until recently are green spaces. When we lived in the city I'd always ride my bike around Forest Park, and go sit with friends, play cards or frisbee, and just enjoy being outside. By and large, I don't particularly enjoy being outside here. There is no quiet space to just be, there's always people or traffic, and it's just not the same. We went to the Calapan Nature Park recently, and it was pretty much what we were expecting. Our best guess was some politician a while back was trying to get reelected so he built this park out in the middle of freakin' nowhere so he could say he built it, but there wasn't really any funding for it so now it's totally unused and uncared for, and not very nice. That's a fairly common story here, unfortunately, that things are just built, thrown up, so the person building it can say "Hey, look what I did," but then there's no funding for it afterwards and not much planning even goes into the actual construction. And then of course afterwards they have a dedication ceremony, they write their name on it or put their picture on it, or both, and that's the end of that. You would think in a country with a very limited budget they would guard every cent to make sure it's spent as wisely as possible, but the opposite is true. So anyway, all bitching aside, I miss (maintained) parks.


Anonymous said...

Hi Owen:
Glad you got to get a bike! Fun to pick out all the parts too. Hope you got something that will work for your allergies. Having had them all my life I know how miserable they can make you feel.
We went to Chicago for the weekend to see 2 operas but Ihad fun anyway, ha! Still cold here tho I think the worst is past. Tell Abby I am so happy her ear problem is finally solved.
love lots,
Aunt Con

Aidan said...

Good to hear Abby's okay.

Shame about the park thing. Forest Park is a bit crowded right now - St Louis is coming out of its winter hibernation and everyone's rediscovering what fresh air feels like!