Hotdog on Sticks

‘What are you doing’ she said, ‘you are only here for the short time (in the Philippines), you need to get out and see the world (of the Philippines)’. And no sooner had Anita removed her hand from around my throat. I was on my way to Dumaguete. And what an enchanting journey. Tricycle, tricycle, bus, boat, bicycle (not in that in order, poetic license).

One day at Apo Island (turtles, sea snakes, corals, volcanic activity etc.) and the next at Dauin, for some Macro Diving (McDiving). Which involves looking out for the small stuff, which is of course in life, is what really counts. The McAnimals include nudibranches, which are as varied in colour as they are in name. You never know whether you could be swimming towards a mournful phestilla, a hairy norse god, a bus stop chromodoris or the corner of a foil packet of Chicharrón crisps. Also Seahorses, see ‘horses of the sea’, Richard Scarry inspired Garden Eels and Octopi, be they mimic (large, change shape), wunderpuss (large, doesn’t change shape) or blue ring (small, bites that contain enough venom to kill 28 people).

Another feature of Dumaguete is the mall. Ask someone who has never been to the Philippines what it has in common with the USA, they are bound to say excellent customer service and diabetes statistics. But in fact the most noticeable similarity is their love of malls. Imagine a building of a size that could easily serve as a multi-storey carpark for commercial airplanes, and then instead fill it with it shops and air conditioning. Cebu City (another trip) in fact has 2, which are possibly visible from space. NB. This phrase refers to when the view from space was limited to the naked eye of a woman/man/chimp in space, not with the aid of a satellite, which thanks to google earth has taught us that the tops of our heads of are visible from space.

Everyone seems to be enjoying his or her personal project. With Gerlinde it’s not completely certain. She has the task of laying down a (metal) square frame every 3 mins of a dive, photographing it 5 times and then analysing what lies inside the square for a few hours a day. She keeps saying she is fine, but she has been observed drawing lots of little squares on her pad during important meetings and verbally abusing restaurant staff that don’t present her food in a square shape. Other than that, all’s swell.

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