Jody's Peace Corps Experience

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The 5 this case, 3

I thought I would dedicate this entry to the sights, sounds and smells of the place I call home. It seems the sounds start at about 4:30, 5 a.m. No, I don't want to be up at this time, but one, the sun shines directly into my room as I lay in bed, and two, I can hear the local "Taho" man calling out to people..."Taaaaaaaa hoooooooo, taaaaaaaa hooooooo!" Taho (pronounced like the city), is a soy product and usually can be found in the mornings. There's not just one taho man, but at least 5 that walk around my neighborhood.

When I hear and see this, I quickly find my malong (long piece of colorful fabric that can be used for a number of things such as a blanket, laundry bag, skirt, etc.). My favorite use of my malong at 5 in the morning is to tye it around my eyes and ears so I can get about 45 more minutes of sleep. I really want an hour, but I hear my host family slowly waking up and starting to make breakfast. The smell of garlic wafts into my room and the clunk of the butcher knife on the chopping board finally wakes me up fully.

At breakfast this morning, I quietly watched as my "lola" (grandmother) was eating her breakfast. She was wearing her usual attire of a stocking hat that you see all Filipinos wearing up here in the hills. They market them as souvenires as they have BAGUIO CITY boldly knitted into them. Her long, black hair was pulled back into a clip, her usual fashion and she had a knitted scarf wrapped tightly around her neck since she is getting an itch in her throat. Lola also had her house coat on that is printed with teddy bears and "friends" is written all over it. Usually she just wears a skirt and big, heavy socks with her house slippers, but this morning was unusually cold so she had also put on a pair of sweatpants under her skirt. When I first met lola, I was eager to try out my language skills with her so I asked how old she was (to a Filipino woman, this is not offensive). Lola quickly answered that she wasn't really sure, but knew she was over 65. The neat thing about lola is that she always has a smile when she sees you walk into the room and you can see the wisdom of her more than 65 years in her eyes.

After breakfast, I head to the RSCC. Through my alleyway I walk and it is usually very wet from the rain the night before. This often releases the not so pleasant smells of the poo, human urine, and last week's garbage. I get to the main road of La Trinidad and the pace is a hundred times faster than Vista Hill. There are huge trucks that sputter and belch out black exhaust, which makes me wish I didn't have a nose for the pollution stings my nose. Jeepnies race through the streets as quickly and, at times, as recklessly, as they can to make their next fare. Busses are constantly buzzing through the streets, carrying passengers to their expected destinations. There is the never ending sound of motors and horns honking.

I get to the jeepny station that I go to everyday to hop on the Pico/Puguis jeep. The "yellers" (I don't know what else to call them since it seems their main job is to yell to the people walking by that a jeep is being loaded heading through Pico) finally know who I am and without me having to ask, point me to the correct jeep.

These same sights and sounds are repeated several times throughout the day until I get home. When school is let out, the kids are in the streets, playing and screaming. As dusk draws near, a local "garage band" gets out their instruments in a nearby house and practice for hours. Oftentimes this is the sound I fall asleep my bed, in the Philippines, I fall asleep to a band playing Nirvana. Only in the Philippines!