With Community Based Training coming to a close I have to take a second to appreciate my fellow batchmates. The crazy, kooky, and entertaining, bunch of Bath 275. Thank you for making CBT truly unforgettable and for helping me navigate this unique and challenging experience. There are not many people who are willing to wait almost a month and a half into a two-year commitment to find out exactly where they are going and what they are doing. You all are insane and I’m glad we’re friends. Thank you for laughing with me, laughing at me, keeping me entertained on long jeepney rides and providing perfectly timed moments of comic relief. I picked out one story to share about our entertaining adventures I hope you’ll enjoy:
Our first unsupervised jeepney ride:
The ride to the mall was uneventful. The ride back began uneventfully enough; we packed in like sardines to this tiny jeep, a little kid threw up on the jeepney floor and no one way phased. As we pulled off I imagined what it would be like to bring my friends and family from home on a jeepney. I imagine my sister throwing her elbows out left and right and snapping loudly that strangers were touching her. I imagine my best friend laughing as the Jeepney stops for everyone and we slowly become more and more compacted together. I started to wonder how I’ll feel when I’m to the point of inviting my friends and family to come visit me. How I will have grown and what my life will be like. Then Matt taps me, back to reality:
‘Something just crawled over my foot.’ He said.
I didn’t think much of it because there was a large box sitting in front of us and the plastic hanging off of it had tickled my feet a few times. A few minutes pass by and Nicole jumps and says much more animatedly:
‘Something just crawled over my foot!’
Dani starts to get nervous because she thinks it’s a cockroach or a mouse, I’m not too bothered by cockroaches or mice but for a second I entertain the idea of it being my mother sitting next to me instead of a stranger. I laugh a little imagining the chaotic encounter that would be- my mom hates mice. Then Andrew says ‘I think it’s a spider’ and I feel a wave of instant karma settling in. I HATE spiders. All of a sudden Dani says ‘oh I think it’s a spider too’ and suddenly the jeepney is beginning to feel very very small. I begin to get nervous imagining the giant beasts of spiders that live in the Filipino jungles and I decide to confide in my friends that they should kill it, sacrifice themselves, or otherwise deter the spider from getting to me. I turn to Matt, he wouldn’t let it get me right? Not my buddy, not my GOOD FRIEND MATT.
Me: ‘It can’t be a spider, I hate spiders.’
**Matt laughs unsupportively and is ready to feed me to the spider**
My heart rate increases. There is no easy way to ditch this jeepney. It is now filled with close to 30 people. Some of the passengers are clinging to the metal bars outside the elongated cab. If that spider comes my way, I am stuck. There is no escaping it. I remember the large blue box in front of us.
Me: ‘It won’t come over here with this box in the way’
Matt: ‘I don’t think that is how that works.’
THANKS MATT THANKS
By now my friends are realizing I’m getting a little nervous. They finally find it on someone’s bag…
Dani: ‘oh man it’s huge’
GREAT. I’m starting to panic a little and my friends are laughing. The lady across from Dani is watching the American get skiddish about a spider and says: ‘Maliit, maliit.’ She laughs and holds up her pinky. I begin to breathe again and Dani and Andrew laugh their faces off. They think they’re funny. I calm down, the spider is tiny, we’re safe.
Then Nicole starts shimmying and jumping out of her seat-henceforth known as the spider dance. The women across from us cover their faces trying not to obviously laugh at the ridiculous scene unfolding in front of them. We aren’t as polite and we laugh hysterically at Nicole’s dance moves. Now, this spider has got to be dead. No one could survive a spider dance like that.
Nicole: ‘Oh my god Matt it’s on your back’
Remember, Matt is sitting right next to me. I turn to my left and see a spindly black spider with a large black abdomen staring up at me from the collar of Matt’s shirt. I quickly flick it at Nicole- survival of the most reactive- and for a second we have lost the spider. All of a sudden Nicole looks down and says ‘it’s on me!’ She stretches out her shirt and takes a second to make sure her swat will be deadly enough to kill it once and for all. She smashes the spider and flicks it towards our audience who do not even flinch at the idea of this very scary spider coming their way. At this point, the front of the jeepney has all tuned into the reality show unfolding in front of them and they are roaring; we laugh along at our ridiculous looking behavior. Just as things calm down we pull up to our stop and jump off the jeepney. We recount the event as we walk back to our host families and we ascertain that our audience members retold our story to their families over a dinner of rice and adobo manok.
Now we are all off to go our separate ways! We will see each other periodically throughout service, on vacations, and of course, we’ll all be textmates. But I am headed to Sorsogon, Bikol with two other awesome CRM volunteers and an amazing bunch of volunteers from other sectors as well. I’ll be working in my Municipality’s Municipal Agriculture Office under their Fisheries Unit. I’m living with a host family on a rice farm. They have several sheep, chickens, goats, and dogs. DID I MENTION THEY HAVE GOATS!? Sorsogon is known for its surfing, great hiking and spicy food (that last one I’m going to have to get used to but I’m about it!). So if you’re looking for a great vacation spot and you love goats as much as I do, let me know.
Balay ko an balay mo! (Did I mention I have to learn a second language?)