Posts Tagged ‘survival’

iMiss

Posted: November 2, 2014 in Hope, TRAVEL
Tags: , , , , ,

Every 90 days or so I get homesick. Today marks the 90th day I’ve been away from home- so I wasn’t really THAT surprised when I woke up in a pissy mood and wanted to just crawl up in a ball and cry all day while looking at pictures of my cat. It doesn’t help that the laundry lady lost my TWO (2!!!) hankies. Who loses hankies?! Especially hand-made ones! 😦

I only have 98 items now. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love traveling. I love experiencing all flavors of new things! But I miss certain things that make home “home”. Which is hilarious, because I consider the entire country of USofA to be “home”… Not just a city or state.

 

With that said, here are my steps to curbing homesickness:

1) Write a list of things that you miss.

2) Go out that week and find those things.

 

That’s it.

 

So- with that said, this is my list. It’s huge.

  1. Golden Grahams (Thanks Amy…..)
  2. Swing dancing (Jive)
  3. Fast internet. (anything faster than a 1mb connection is considered fast)
  4. Sonic limeades (with the crushed pebble ice!)
  5. Nachos
  6. Chuy’s Chuychunga (with a real margarita)
  7. Driving towards Rainier, in the spitting rain, with my windows slightly rolled down, listening to shitty music.
  8. My Cat, La Puta. ❤ ❤ ❤
  9. Texting
  10. Durian Bubble Tea
  11. Dirty Chai’s (done properly…. not tasting like milk and not made with powder).
  12. Blue Moon beer, Dominos pizza, and America’s Next Top Hooker on a Friday night.
  13. PUMPKIN…. EVERYTHING…. (It’s flippin’ October and I haven’t had a pumpkin anything yet! Can you believe it?!)
  14. Hearing the wind blow through the leaves, hearing them crackle and fall off a tree. (also, jumping in piles of leaves with my fathead brother).
  15. Downloading and listening to podcasts all day.
  16. My aerial silk/dance classes
  17. Hanging out with my friends and laughing so hard my sides hurt. ❤

 

When I first started traveling, I would make lists like this every week (I called them my ‘iMiss lists’). At first they were filled with random petty things like: Hot showers, texting, claritin, English speakers, brussels sprouts, gelato, electric, etc.

 

My list is getting more specific. It’s funny how your perception/priorities change.

 

What do you miss when you travel?

I feel like enough time has gone by for me to finally talk about this. People always seem to ask “what’s the worst thing that happened when you travel?” Expecting to hear a story like this (or of being poorly kidnapped).

In reality- more bad stuff has happened to me in the states/Canada (email hacked, credit card fraud, car broken into, held at needle-point, assault, sexual harassment, etc) than when traveling. I guess we’re programmed to ignore these facts and just believe that the rest of the world is far more scary than our own. Probably because it’s unknown and unfamiliar.

I’ll get back to that.

I got mugged because I was careless and stupid.

Let me back up.

  1. I was walking up an unpopulated hill in daylight (normally- this is fine),
  2. listening to Ted talks on my phone. (Again- normally this is fine)
  3. but I was trying to pick one I hadn’t heard before- therefore- I was paying more attention to my phone than to what was around me (fatal mistake).

I didn’t even see this hooded figure come up next to me. He tapped me on the shoulder and said something about money. I ignored him, thinking he was a homeless person and went to walk away until he grabbed me and stuck a knife in my side and uttered “don’t scream”.

You know that bit in your lizard brain that tells you to fight, flight or freeze? Mine must be malfunctioning because I thought all 3 at the same time.

He got impatient and grunted “Give me money.”

The thoughts that raced through my head were like a channel-flipper.

  • “What should I do?”
  • “Seriously? This is happening?”
  • “Eh- I’ll just reboot my day back to the last save point.”
  • “Oh crap……. This isn’t a dream”
  • “I should kick him in the balls.” (This wasn’t a possibility from where he was physically standing).
  • “Maybe I should just do what they always do- and give him everything.”
  • “Wait- if I do that, I’ll end up with nothing. And besides- that didn’t work out for Batman’s parents.”
  • “There’s no way this guy is getting everything. Not without a fight.”
  • “He’s looking at me funny…. I should probably do something.”

I had my book bag and phone. On the back of my phone was my my-city bus card (which, by the way, in Cape Town is a master card. So, technically, it’s money.) I gave that to him. He threw that down to the ground and grabbed my phone…. MY PRECIOUS!

To most people it’s just an out of date iPhone. To me it is my camera, my microphone, my journal, my budget notes, my translator, my itinerary… And was it backed up? No. Of course not. That would be responsible……….

(Another lesson learned… Moving on.)

Then he wanted my bag as well.

Here’s where it gets complicated. My brain was saying “LN, you always just give them everything. It’s ok. Nothing is worth your life.” Except my passport, cards, first aid kit and journal was all in that bag! Ok- the first aid kit is replaceable but the rest wasn’t! Not easily! My hand-written journal had all my notes from the past month in it. I hadn’t gotten around to transposing it to my google-drive file (super slow Internet…). Besides- I have almost 95 stamps in that passport! Do you know how much of a bitch it is to get your passport replaced?!? Especially after 9/11?!?

Believe me- it’s a pain. And if you have to pick an option of dealing with homeland security or get stabbed? I pick getting stabbed every time.

So I refused to give up my bag. I gave him my best “back the fuck off” lion-stare that I’ve mastered at bars and in the bush. He grabbed the bag and tried to cut it off me. And this was HIS first mistake- because this is when I found out that his “knife” was as sharp as an envelope opener. I started screaming at this point and jumped after him.

Luckily my bag was heavy with bottled water. He panicked and threw that at me and took off- still with my phone. (My precious!)

I mustered up all my CrossFit endurance and took off after him. (Wearing chacos….) He rounded a corner where, for some miracle of gawd, a bunch of triathlon trainers were sprinting the hills. I was screaming “mugger! Thief! Stop him!” They must have heard me and they, too, took off after him.

Confession: I was impressed by this guy’s stamina. And embarrassed by my own. (If only he ran races for a living instead of getting high off backpacker’s pawned stuff! Yep. I’m passing judgement and making assumptions. This asshat had My Precious. I’m allowed.)

The particular neighborhood that I was in has “neighborhood watch” towers. Little boxes where a paid guard sits, texts all day, and makes sure nothing happens during his shift. Normally I disregard them and think they are a waste of money. Not today! Before I knew it, a guard came running out of one, and sprinted after the guy. (Mental note: South African security guards do not eat donuts on the job!) They rounded the corner and the next thing I knew I saw the guard come towards me with my phone.

MY PRECIOUS!

I offered to buy the guard lunch- but he declined and took off for his guard post which was un-manned during his act of amazing heroism.

I don’t know what happened to the thief- this seems to be a big question for people. To be honest, I don’t really care what happened to him because I ended up ok and all he ended up with a my-city bus card with 3$ on it.

Don’t let my hyperbole fool you, though. Afterwards I felt violated. Hyper aware of everything (glances, bumps and bulges in people’s coats/bags, weird smells, my gut feeling) and felt foolish for being so careless. Cape Town reminded me so much of San Francisco mixed with Melbourne that I just took safety for granted and didn’t even consider myself in a third world country (see my craptastic Internet moaning above).

The irony is that bad things happen all the time to people who aren’t paying attention. More has happened to me at “home” because I take safety for granted- when, in fact, desperate people who are looking for easy marks are everywhere.

I realize that there are heaps of exceptions to this opinion. I also realize that it’s exhausting to be hyper aware all the time- and the thought that if you let your guard down for an instant you’ll be a target is enough to make people never want to ever leave the house. So I’ll leave off with the advice I follow and keeps me sane and keeps me traveling with limited fear:

  1. Never travel with your passport if you don’t have to.
  2. There is (usually) power in groups, or advantages to walking quickly.
  3. Always back up yer crap. (Phone, journal, whatever.) Make this a weekly ritual.
  4. If you are already drawing attention to yourself (ie- if you’re the only white girl around) draw MORE attention by screaming, barking, talking to yourself/a sock puppet/whatever. What do you have to lose?
  5. A life lived in fear is a life half lived.

Amy Purdy was a teenage snowboarder. When she was a teenager, she heard about a boy who lost his legs in a freak accident and confessed (on a Ted Radio Hour) having the thought that if the same thing happened to her, she would wheel herself over a cliff to end her life. 2 years after hearing this story (about the boy) she ended up getting bacterial meningitis (suddenly) and losing both her legs below the knee, her spleen, both kidneys and her hearing in the left ear. She considered herself lucky because it could have been both hands and her nose, too.

In less than a year, she got a kidney from her dad and partnered with a prosthetic maker to create legs for her. She went back on her snowboard and ended up being a 2-world cup winner in the Paralympics. (She has also been a finalist on “Dancing With the Stars”– which I really love).

The thought process and determination to get back on the board and snow is probably one of the most attractive traits to me in human beings. Someone who is faced with an absolutely impossible situation and (somehow) manages to pull through.

I’m not talking about the “stuck on 95 during rush-hour and you have to ‘somehow’ get home in time to let the dog who has a bladder problem out before she pees all over your floor” impossible situation. (It should be noted, however, that this *IS* impossible) But more along the lines of “You’ve been diagnosed with cancer and you decide that through chemo, you’re going to have the best year of sales of your life” type.

The latter happened to a friend of mine, who I’ve met in Africa. She said that even though it was difficult, she knew that she was going to beat it. “It was harder for my family because they were scared. but I threw myself into my business- not in to the sickness- because that wasn’t worth spending time thinking about. It was just trying to hold me back- my business was exciting!”

She ended up growing her business 20-fold that year alone. She’s one of the best and most humorous people I’ve ever met.

 

On the other hand, some people just get the “deer in headlight” moment and stay there. They freeze and can’t get past the crumbling problem. They spend so much time wallowing in the problem that they forget that they, alone, have the power to FIX (or get over/around/whatever) the problem. We’ve all been there!

I once knew a guy who was a registered sex offender. Long-story short- he was getting to 2nd base, in public, with a girl who had an abusive boyfriend. (News to him). The bully’s best friend walks by- calls out to them, she then files a sex-offender case against the guy because otherwise the bully would beat her up. That was 6 years ago and the guy is still crippled by this problem. Instead of taking life by the horns and figuring it out- he’s sitting there like a deer in headlights.

 

Which gets me to my real story:

We’re in Africa. We are staying “in the bush” where we hear lions and jackals and elephants (oh my!) at night. When walking from the main lodge (food) to our tents, we need to be escorted by a staff member (local). “Why?” You ask– I’ll tell you! Because a lion could be there! And what do you do when you are face-to-face with a lion? You stare at it… straight into the eyes- and you back away slowly. Eventually someone will lose interest and you both will continue on with your lives.

Even though this safety talk has been explained numerous times, they still have the gringos walk with locals because the locals know what to do. They don’t rely on their gut. (Gringo’s guts would say do one of the following:

1) Run away (what you do with bullies)

2) get big and loud (what you do for black bears)

3) play dead (what you do for crocs, bulls, elephants, rhinos, grizzly bears, etc.)

4) punch it in the nose once it gets close enough (sharks)

All of these would get you killed by a lion, btw.

 

But my point is that even though we are told to do one thing, when faced with a huge crippling problem, we don’t know what we would do. The best (and most attractive) people, in my opinion, are the ones who get over the problem/obstacle the quickest – without getting swallowed up… By life or lions.

 

Thanks for letting me share.

I’m an intern at Red Cross Disaster Services. I was tasked to giving a presentation on “Disaster Prep” to a company.

“Ok! No problem! Can I center the whole talk around the zombie apocalypse?” I just get eye-rolls from the non-believers/skeptics. My supervisor says that she will email me the powerpoint that I should update/use.

In the power point, to my surprise, is a link to the following:

“Don’t use this link- as the language and quality is bad. But it’s useful information!”

I already knew this, as I actually had to use this trick multiple times in the Philippines. I first started searching for this when I watched “The Pianist” (I think that was the movie) where a guy is in hiding and can’t open a can of peaches.

What I’m trying to say is: This trick saves lives.

NOTE: I’m a freelance volunteer. I have no affiliation. Which means that I can write and be totally open about everything I’ve seen. (HORRAY FOR NON-EXISTENT NDAS!) Being a “rogue volunteer” gives me a lot of pros and cons.

PROS:

-I was invited to stay/sleep at the mayor’s house.
-I meet a bunch of random people of the town that “are important”
-Ride a bus with a bunch of musicians
-Be interviewed by Channel 5 (at least 3 times).

CONS:

-I have to figure out where my meals come from
-I have to figure out where I’m going to sleep, my transportation, etc.
-I have to find jobs/tasks to do/help with.

I think if I ever do disaster relief again (and I’d like to) I want to be with an org of some sort. Just someone with a mission/purpose that is already established.

With all that said, however, I’ve been super busy helping a city (Bogo) and it’s surrounding “barangays” (villages) this past week. Before this I was helping in the food shelters packing (and repacking) food. I grew tired of this because of various reasons- mostly political. There has been a bunch of news stories (here in the Philippines) about “Repacking” and how it’s terribly inefficient. There are actually a few news stories on the topic that I’ll translate for you:

1) Organizations (Like DSWD. Department of Social Welfare) receive packs from donors. Then they repack them “to make them equal/all the same” and then mark the packs with “DSWD” on them, so it makes DSWD look good. (I help out with the DSWD and while I can’t verify that this happens- the second point DOES…. ALL THE TIME.)

2) Communities (disaster relief centers– like the complex I’ve been helping at) will receive packs from various locations and repack them to make them all the same (same amount of noodles/cans/etc) for when they get distributed. While this  is ok, it’s extremely time consuming. (A pack will be re-packed 3-4 times and every re-pack will add a day delay from that pack of food getting to a house/belly.

So- when I am lacking in work, I help at the complex, even though it’s inefficient and drives me crazy. It’s labor intensive and allows me to ignore the world for a while and just haul stuff and make all the Filipino men wish they knew what crossfit was.

When I’m not helping at the complex I’m helping Mayor Martinez and his army organize things. An example is that the Israeli army wanted to help rebuild a school. It was my job to talk to the mayor of that town, get materials bought (so the town has ownership… Not just a charity case) for the Israelis to rebuild the school. Another day I chartered a city bus from one town (Medellin) to Bogo (where the Israelis have a hospital set up) so everyone could have a chance to see a doctor. Another day, an NGO with Sawyer Water Filtrations came with a bunch of 55-gal drums, needed a team of volunteers to do work. (so I was basically the foreman telling people what to do). Not to toot my own horn, but I’m actually really good at “bossing” people around (read: making decisions, figuring out priorities, thinking creatively) and getting shit done. I guess this is why I’m helping the Mayor(???).
The next week, because I don’t have political or family ties here, the Mayor had me to go to damaged houses in each barangay to verify the reports that were filed. (Basically an insurance claims for the government). I was supposed to visit 18,454 houses, with a team of 4, in 3 days. With no helicopter. This was impossible. We did our best, but we only ended up seeing 28% of the houses. The reports from the barangay captains were pretty accurate- except the terminology. What they called “Majorly Damaged” I would consider “Totally Devastated”. (see pics). So currently the barangay captains are getting sheets to fill out of each person in their village who’s house needs assistance and I will go to each “address” and verify what they claim.

Major damage

Minor Damage

The term “address” is hilarious because the houses were (are?) built on the sides of mountains. No roads go to their house- and the “path” that is there is now a muddy trail littered with banana trees and palm-tree trunks. My brother made a great suggestion that I ask the US government for a drone and just use that to go around and verify all these houses. It’s not a bad idea.

While on the subject, I’m a little disappointed in the lack of response that I’ve seen from America being physically here, to be honest. Hell, I’ve seen more French here than Americans. (That’s just embarrassing…) To be fair, I guess I should say that I’m not in Tachloban or Leyte. Maybe that’s where they all are? Who knows. No one really seems to know- not even the news people. (“You’re American?! You’re the first one we’ve met!”) Until yesterday (Thanksgiving) I was the only American volunteer here in Bogo. Then the NGOs and another rogue volunteer came to help. Sad to say, this (American handshakes and accents) was the GREATEST thing I could ask for for Thanksgiving. 🙂

Sorry for the tangent…

The government has 3 phases here in place:

1) Food relief and assessment.
2) work for food, work for cash, work for materials. (A lot of their jobs (read reason for living) is gone, so work gives them purpose and HOPE.)
3) Rebuilding. (where they relocate people and/or rebuild their houses… This is where my assessment is coming in handy, apparently).

Speaking of hope/faith, it’s something they have a lot of. People will take time to write signs that say “roofless but not hopeless”. People are getting excited for christmas (xmas is huge here…. They put up the decorations in october) because all electricity will be restored by then (or so the estimates say. What they really mean is “if you live in a big city, it’ll be restored by Xmas. If you live in the sticks, you’ll have to wait until March.”).

The range of emotions is… drastic to say simply. It’s not enough that:

– no one is getting good sleep or
-drinking enough water or
-those working are over-worked… those not are underworked.
-still don’t have electric in their houses (so they can do stuff, like clean/fix their homes when they get home)

I so rarely see people cry, and when I do see it, it just breaks my heart. Because I’m crying every night (a waste of water, I realize) and I have a bed that I’m sleeping in. AND A MOSQUITO NET!

But some people don’t have that… They have nothing. They have less than a dog-house. (see pics) And they don’t get mad! Strike that. They get passive-aggressive. But in the games industry- you work for egotistical men who over-compensate so maybe I’m used to it. Actually, I think the only way that I’m actually helping is being a punching bag for people. They are stressed and frustrated and it’s easier to yell at me (someone who will leave) than it is to yell at fellow filipinos who they will see every Sunday at church. Not to say that I’m being treated poorly. I find the hospitality to be excellent. I’m fed 11 times a day (at least!). I get told, every day- by the women, how people appreciate my help. On the flip side I also get asked for money at every street corner. I get frustrated sometimes that people aren’t more willing to help clean up/do work-that I have to “con” them with money or hugs or high-fives. Some would call filipinos lazy, but I think they are mentally and physically exhausted. Chalk this up to another missed business opportunity: Psych students should flock to natural disasters and see PTSD at the source.

Speaking of PTSD— here’s a story: 

One morning I was being dragged around to useless/pointless errands of the Israelis (I didn’t need to be part of any of it… but they invited me. I thought it was important. It wasn’t. It was just dropping off water tanks to an island and taking a lot of pictures…. Useless mission for me, IMO.) Then I go to the sports complex. Channel 5 is there. They flock to me (because a) I’m white and b) I’m carrying sacks of rice. This never fails to impress people here. It’s like a free circus show) and invite me to help deliver food relief to a neighboring barangay. I agree and we load up a truck, jump in the back (redneck style) and head out.

Once the truck got to the barangay and slowed down, people flocked and screamed. At first it was children coming after us like we were an ice-cream truck.

Then it was adults and it got more ravage that just reminded me of zombie movies… Or India. (Pick one. Both are bad situations.) The truck stops and (after taking the picture below) I jump out and count them. 215… Not including kids.

215 hungry head-of-households. Everyone is smiling at me. Kids are running up, poking my butt and running off. I chase them for a bit. I don’t know why the news crew is taking their sweet ass time in getting out of their truck so we can unload– but they are. I play with the kids some more (yea. shutup. I play with kids now.)

And then someone yells at me to get back on the truck. We’re leaving… For whatever reason we aren’t stopping here. This was just a big fucking giant cock-tease. The people in line stare at me. Wondering what they did wrong. Did they not pray enough? Did they not say thank you enough? Did they not have cute enough children? They had the look of abandonment that can only be compared to the old dogs in the ASPCA shelters. The only hope I had was that we had 300 sacks and someone else was going to get them.

So then we stop up the road to a smaller part of the barangay. We actually had to knock on doors to get the people to come out. We give away 121 sacks, even though there are 135 households. When there weren’t enough takers, we went to another barangay where people lined up again. More of them this time. I was instructed to get out of the truck and hand people the relief sacks while being interviewed by channel 5.

To be honest, this was the only time in all my time in the Philippines I was terrified for my safety. I always tend to have “an escape plan”. Whenever I sit in a restaurant I sit with my back against a wall so I can see the door (or escape route). I am constantly making escape plan routes- mostly for the Zombie Apocalypse. Even when drunk (which ends up being really creative and hilarious, actually. It’s probably all for nothing, but it entertains me and isn’t hurting you, so stop judging!) Anyway- when I got out of the truck, I was pinned against the back of the truck with hundreds of hungry people’s hands reaching towards me from all angles. All the while I was being interviewed by Channel 5. After we gave 150 sacks (even though there are 130 households) I had the unfortunate job of telling a toothless woman (with an infected eye) that she couldn’t have food. That even though our truck was full, it wasn’t for her. She turned away and sobbed so loudly that I had to cover my ears, climb back into the truck and cry for myself. Someone eventually gave her a sack, but it was enough to shoot my nerves. All I wanted to do was drink a beer and lay in the fetal position for a few hours. I tried to meditate on the way back, taking puffs of a cigarette that someone else lit up to try to calm myself. Nothing seemed to help.

We get back to the complex and unload all the “unused” food sacks. There were litters of children who didn’t want to help. “I’m not strong enough” is what they all said. I told them that I bet they can- and handed them a sack. One girl said “hey. I bet I can carry more than you!” and they made a game. #AchievementUnlocked: Got kids to help even when they didn’t want to. This, apparently is my speciality. I usually promise high-fives, hugs or my phone number. (even though they don’t have houses, they all have cell phones. I get more daily texts from kids than from twitter telling me that The baby prince took a shit.) So the kids started to help. When we finished, we had a make-shift “talent show” on the gym floor. Kids were tumbling, kart-wheeling, doing handstands, playing hand-games, and jump-rope. This is when I split my pants because I was showing off…. Embarrassing. But every one just laughed and shrugged it off. I appreciated this. And hey! If I can make people laugh during this time, power to me.

I called my driver (yes. I have a driver… I’ll let you think it’s fancy- when really, it’s a hassle and I plan on renting a motorbike when I get back) and had him take me to my host family’s house (about an hour away). My plans were to just sit, read, answer Facebook* messages… You know… Relax. But instead I was hassled on why I’m doing myself a disservice by not believing in (the Muslim) God, how I should study the Quran, how even though I’m doing good work, I’ll still go to Hell unless I accept God into my life. blah blah blah. I tried my best to argue, but how do you argue with people like that? The ones giving you a roof, couch and food? The ones who are ignorant to how the rest of the world is, thinks, lives and believes that their way of life is applicable and valid for all?
I slept on an off that night. Going between anger, frustration, hope and sorrow. I tried all my yoga-relaxation techniques that I learned just over a month ago. I took sleeping pills. I swatted mosquitos. I thought of sex with Han Solo. Nothing seemed to help except the thought that when I die, it’ll be fine. And when I get home, I’m going to eat 3 pounds of streaky bacon. And it’s going to be the definition of glorious.
*fun fact: with most sim card plans, Facebook is free- but you have to pay for everything else…. why? No idea. Why didn’t Globe message EVERYONE in the Philippines “DANGER! TYPHOON COMING! EVACUATE IF YOU LIVE IN ___ AREAS!”??? I don’t know. There’s a missed business opportunity (or at least a life-saving opportunity) here.

Update:
I was in the Philippines when the typhoon hit. I was in a safe place called MoalBoal which is in south Cebu (Cebu is an island). I think we had 1 single banana fall from a tree. That was it.

It was a fun day spent with hostel mates playing cards, drinking rum, swimming, having dance parties… You know, the normal stuff you do when the power is out.

So- with that said, I thought it was a typical over-exaggeration of the news. Everything we heard/got word from was all the same: “all fine here!”

Then the texts from my friends and family came… Then twitter woke up and blew my phone up. And then we got power back and I actually looked at the news…. And was in shock.

So I headed to Cebu City Capital building to help in any way I could.

Just me- a single American tourist/now volunteer- venturing all around the Philippines carrying sacks of rice on her shoulders.

Cebu city was barely hit. Electric and Internet still flows freely- but the capital building was a buzz with hundreds of volunteers who were all busy packing canned goods (sardines….. Eww.) instant noodles, rice and water bottles to be put into bigger sacks to be shipped to other cities in need.

Hundreds of communities were hit by the typhoon. I had the privilege of meeting the vice-governor, mayors of multiple towns and other high officials* and they have told me the following:

-each district/island takes care of their own and then gives to other communities. (So, Cebu takes care of Cebu first- then other places like tacloban).
-the first 2 weeks are for food relief. Then it goes to building material relief and clean up.
-the government is going to pay the homeowners to rebuild their own houses. The home owners get free materials and a stipend (150pesos/ 3.50$ a day) and will be “checked in on” by government officials. (Personally I have no idea how they will handle the logistics of this. But that’s besides the point.)

*I’ve been told that I’m the only American here so far- combine that with being a “team strong” volunteer- makes me special and worthy of shaking hands with. (Heh.)

————

Besides all that- here is what I have experienced personally (because this is MY blog and it’s always about me…. Ahem.)

1) I haven’t really slept unless I take sleeping pills. I keep having crazy nightmares where zoey is stuck in a tree getting her eyes poked out by angry roosters. I’m also, for one of the first times, really homesick.

2) about 5 days ago I was napping and felt an aftershock (yes, they had an earthquake here about 4 weeks ago) and ran out of my room. “Aftershock?!?” I screamed
“No. Fat man fell out of bed! Hahahaha.” Said the cleaner.

They have weird senses of humor here.

3) being a crossfitter has made me a FreakShow. The amount of photos/newspapers that I’m in on a daily basis is just fucking embarrassing. I was told that a Crossfit *IS* opening in Cebu city next month. I hope they print out a pic of me hauling sacks of rice on my shoulder and use that as an advertising tool. (“Become strong and useful.”)

4) I have the flu. Or something like it. I should feel thankful that I’m shivering in the tropics instead of back in the states, right? I may have gotten it from a dirty child or from the free flu vaccination that they gave me. Unsure. I hope it passes soon.

5) Giving food relief to those who are hungry (or, more likely, thirsty) is like a Black Friday sale at Walmart… Or an episode of the Walking Dead. But people are barely wearing clothes and mothers have a baby attached to their breast while they reach their arms out for a plastic bag of rice/noodles/water.

6) the news here is abysmal. I learn more about what is going on via twitter and my friends than through any newspaper or local.

7) I asked the vice-governor what she would do differently- she said “we should have distributed out reserves more evenly before the storm” (as opposed to having a majority of then in Cebu city.) Cebu had a lot of damage- but not a lot of deaths. (A miracle, IMO.)

8) I’m currently sitting in a pizza joint, checking my email, writing this blog, eating an icecream and listening to shitty top-40 radio and, to be honest… I totally forgot where I was. It was really nice to just pretend like I was back home and I didn’t see piles of debris that resemble a lumber sale rather than a house. Or the starving kids that keep asking this white girl for extra money for food.

Tomorrow, once my laundry is done, I’m headed somewhere else. Goodbye electricity. Goodbye icecream. Goodbye Nickleback. Hello disaster zones.

Side note: if anyone knows anyone/any group/org that speaks English that is here, can you please email me? That’s really the only sucky part of this whole thing is being alone.

Every time I walk into a room I scan and think of an exit strategy. A lot of times “jumping over this thing and smashing into a window” is the most logical- but what happens after that? 

 

Where will I get food? Where will I get supplies? 

 

Every time I move to a new city I make analog directions to the nearest costco/walmart (they have guns/food/reinforced doors/gas). But I’m not so sure that exotic places around the world will also have these mammoth stores. 

 

So far, on the top of my list, is this place in Tanzania where you can stay in tree houses. (perfect against zombies!) You can see the Serengeti Migration, pick fruit off trees, live with monkeys… Sounds promising!