Tuesday, October 24, 2006

From the Province to the Big City

So, for those of you who are wondering out there, I'm still here. It's not that I haven't thought a zillion times a day about leaving, but I'm still here. It's been two months since my last posting and I must confess that it's been a rough too months.

Just when you think you've adjusted, things start happening. I was forced to leave my nipa hut after my host uncle was accused of a crime. He wasn't punished for the unmentionable crime, but Peace Corps moved me temporarily to a local resort for safe keeping. While there, I got to bond with Ate Sylvia Amor and her wonderful family, including the sweetest little Yuri, 3, at the Amor Beach Resort. I lived in Cottage A for several weeks, ate delicious food and tried to weather the gossip and myriad of questions back in Punta, my old neighborhood.

As the neighborhood continued to fight over the alleged crimes of my host uncle, I hid out at Amor. While there, I braved one of the biggest typhoons to hit the Philippines in years. Typhoon Milenyo was strong. Talagang malakas! I ended up huddled alone under an umbrella while the walls shook and rain poured inside my hut. The hut and I survived to tell the story many times over. Thank God I'd remembered to buy a bottle of red wine the week before in Legaspi, the nearest city.

During my stay at Amor, I learned that Peace Corps was transferring me altogether to Legaspi, about an hour away from Donsol. I am now assigned as an English teacher at a local college and will begin classes in early November. While I did not have a choice in the transfer, it will offer some new opportunities in my last few months in the Philippines. My regrets are that I leave behind a really great project -- the marine ecology center -- and good friends and counterparts I've made in Donsol. It wasn't easy to say good-bye -- there were a few tears shed -- but maybe it will be all that easier to say those good-byes when I really leave for good next June. And I am leaving, knowing that Linell, the librarian at my school, will carry on the library project. And that Tess, my counterpart at the eco center, will do the same. They are both so capable, they hardly needed me in the first place.

Last week, I left for good and moved to Legaspi. Actually, I am living in a small studio apartment in Old Albay in a quiet, clean neighborhood. I rent from a very sweet lola (grandmother) who worries about me. She giggles when I speak to her in Tagalog because she thinks it's so amusing. I can already tell city life will be different. For one thing, there are new volunteers nearby, including Page, a volunteer in Legaspi. I will have access to Internet, malls and the movies! Who could ask for more? It's almost like being home in the good old USA. Sort of. One thing for sure is that I can get wine and cheese (real cheese!) and that will make me happy for a little while.

I am working now on planning to teach the college students at a small Catholic college within walking distance to my apartment. I will be teaching research and writing, speech, American and British literature, job skills, journalism as well as doing some training in English for the professors. So, it's a new challenge and will definitely keep me busy for the next seven months. Seven months!

It's hard to believe that I have only a seven months to go. It's been a rough road and I am hoping to finish but I would be lying if I did not say that everyday is a struggle. I miss home and my old life. I miss being there for the things that happen in the lives of people I care about. But seven months is just seven months, diba? Time will hopefully fly quickly.

To get me through the last hurdle, I hope to spend a week in Hawaii for my 40th birthday. Yes, magfoforty ako! Yikes, where as the all the time gone? How did I get to be this old and why do I still feel like I'm 20?! A big thanks those of you who have stood by me all these years. I love you all! :)

I'm signing off for now and hope to update you all a little more frequently.