So I feel very home-y here in San Pedro now. I walk to the church and to Starbucks and I see people I know along the way. It was a highlight of the week to walk down from my bahay (house) to the church on Sunday and stop and chat to a young friend, wave to some kids shouting my name, and exchange words in passing to a church member. Such a simple thing as a smile and recognizing people in the community but I feel like I have relationships now. That’s what it’s all about, right? Even at Starbucks where I go frequently to edit my photos/video, I know the baristas’ names and snippets about their lives and visa-versa. Again, quite simple and perhaps silly, but it feels great to say I have friends at Starbucks and friends in San Pedro. It’s not just me walking along feeling like a freak of nature as everyone points and stares. Even if I don’t know people by name, I see familiar faces more often now, and I think people are not quite as shocked by me anymore. It’s really nice.
I am also super comfortable with my living conditions now. My stomach has calmed down (praise the Lord), I can flush any toilet that comes my way with one bucket of water, I can get from point A to B to C back to A all by myself using 4 different modes of transportation, I can speak enough Tagalog to have mini-conversations, and I am an expert at cold bucket bathing. Of course I do not say this with cocky pride but with “wow this is great” enthusiasm.
Most of the world lives without toilet paper, potable tap water, and AC. And now I am too and I’m loving it. Yes I miss these things and am very grateful for my country that provides these luxuries, but I am happy to know I can live without them and be splendid. Not that I didn’t think I could, but now it’s reality that I see for myself. I always knew you didn’t need these material things for fulfillment, but again, it’s nice to be myself without them and still be filled. I credit that to relationships, syempre (of course); relationships with God first and foremost, and relationships with the people.
I also credit it to the fact that much of how I live and what I live in is a luxury, not a necessity, and it was good for me to learn to distinguish the two. Now again, I knew this going into this that we live in a wealthy country in the US with many nice things that I wouldn’t have going to the Philippines blah blah. But again, I wouldn’t have thought about potable, temperature-controllable bathing water or mattresses as luxuries before this per sé, mostly because I wouldn’t think about it at all. Like, we have water coming out from a faucet onto our heads that we can also drink and decide how hot or cold we want it just by turning a knob. Amazing! Like showering with Evian. Many of us have cars, and we decide where and when we want to go anywhere. We have people who come to spray our houses and businesses and stores with pesticides. We drink brewed coffee! We have washing machines and dryers, and if we don't there are laundromats filled with 'em. We might even have our very own room at home. And it’s filled with stuff, stuff stuff! Even the poor Americans have the government that will gives some help, NGO’s to offer guidance/sheleter/food/jobs, and a law that says you cannot deny anyone water to drink.
Phew… you get my point. Thank you God for the luxury items we have in the US, all of us, and especially me. I am so blessed, we are so blessed (and now I am sounding cheesy and I apologize haha).
(And that was the classic rant of a young American realizing her worldly wealth in a developing country and yelling about it. You get it).