The journey continues - week 3

Trip Start Sep 11, 2007
Trip End Dec 16, 2007

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Flag of Philippines  ,
Saturday, October 13, 2007

I've been here for 3 weeks now and I guess I must be settling in.I was on the road last week and when I returned to Manila it felt like a home away from home (well....that's a bit of a stretch). Meseret and I continued our tours of the provinces seeing if they are prepared for the measles campaign which starts in 2 days. We were also out recruiting and training Mormon volunteers to help us assess the villages once the vaccination teams have gone through. I have to hand it to those Mormons they are so organized. I call up the church whenever I'm in a district and ask if they have volunteers I can train tomorrow. They put the word out and the next day I'm training 20 to 30 Mormons in their church. They all call me 'Sister' even though I say 'I'm not Mormon' then I always add ' but my sister is!'. I've been pulling the 'my sister is a Mormon' card alot and it seems to give me a degree of acceptance. They are so eager to help out and really this job would be impossible without them.
Meseret and I also arranged for a vehicle and driver to take us places because public transport is brutal. WHO has decided to fund this for us and the other teams. Our Driver is Saldy and he is very proud of his Toyota 4 wheeler. He doesn't speak much english but we manage to communicate. He always wants to carry my bags and opens the car door. I feel like rock star but its a bit embaressing.
On our way back to Manila on Friday we drove to a  mountain retreat that a guy on the plane told me about. Its owned by a german woman and her husband. It's on 40 hectacres of Land and really tucked away. The grounds are beautiful with infinity pools overlooking the valleys, meditation gardens and a restaurant that only serves organic vegetables grown in their garden. I had my first salad in 3 weeks. After a tranquil couple of hours there we headed back to Manila. 3 hrs to go 60 km. bumper to bumper all the way. We got locked beside a truck crammed with pigs going to the butcher. They were screaming and it was so upsetting. We couldn't get away from the,m...I decided to take a photo and as I pressed the shutter one of the pigs turned and looked me in the eye. I've posted the photo. Now I think I'll delete it.
The philippines is a country extremes. and you don't know what extreme you will be experiencing from one hour to the next. One minute you are reflecting on the beauty of the place and the next you are swearing off pork for life!
We ended the day by heading to the Hobbit House, a bar in Manila staffed by dwarfs and midgets. Honestly...a couple are less than 3 feet tall. They have great food and live music. Anne and I chowed down on BBQ chicken and beer while listening to some old Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel tunes....Ended up staying until 1 am then cabbed it back to the hotel. up early for an all day meeting today and tomorrow morning we head out to a slum area of manila to do a coverage..Monday we are back in the field. .No time to be home sick but I miss you all.  I'm enjoying the work..its difficult, challenging and rewarding in ways I did not anticipate. ok..I'll post some photos so you can have a look.
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