Maligayang Kaarawan Catherine!
This will be a someone short note kasi pagod na pagod ako -- that's "because I'm very tired" in Tagalog!
I'm learning a little Tagalog each day -- we have four hours of classroom instruction in the morning and my 38-year-old brain is fried from all the new language. But it is a fun language to learn and relatively easy to understand. It's remembering all the new words that is a bit tough. I have a very good teacher, Myles, who is also a lot of fun. This afternoon, we took a field trip to UP Los Banyos, one of the state universities near here. It was a nice respite from the pollution to be on a college campus. It's not quite what we think of in terms of pretty campuses but it's large and spacious and there are very few Jeepneys! We're going to be observing some summer school courses there in the next week or so and we needed to meet with some of the department chairs -- all part of our afternoon training. We went to the dairy there at the College of Agriculture and I bought some blue cheese. The Filipinos think cheese is Cheeze Whiz. Uh, Tracey, are you sure you don't have any Filipino ancestors??? Anyway, I've been craving real cheese and the college students make it there as an experiment. I'll let you know how it tastes!
Coleen, 4, and Dazzel, 6, (see their cute pictures below) celebrated birthdays this week so we had a little party yesterday. Ate Julie cooked spaghetti and the kids had birthday cakes. We sang Happy Birthday (in English) and the men sat around and played Tong-its (like poker). Kuya Deo (my host tatay or host dad) said he couldn't break out the booze because of the kids, but I heard he's fond of gin and orange Tang! This Sunday, I believe, Deo & Julie and the kids and I are going ice skating. Sunday is my day to spend with my Filipino "pamilya." I have school six days a week from 8 to 5!
I usually wake up around 5 each morning when the "host dogs" start barking at each other and the neighbor dogs. I'm not sure what the purpose of these dogs are...they are chained up outside 24/7 and don't seem to make good pets and the bark like crazy every evening and early morning. Hmm. They eat our leftovers but basically survive on a rice diet -- like most Filipinos!
Did I mention I eat a lot of rice? Yesterday, Ate Julie fixed chocolate rice or Champorado? Sort of like a soupy chocolate rice concoction. You eat it with dried fish that's then fried. Don't ask me why! Something about the salt and sweet tastes together. Not sure how I feel about the dried fish but the chocolate rice was tasty.
Okay, to those of you sending notes, emails, thanks so much. I will do my best to answer them all.