Week 2 down, 2nd blog post, and cliché to say but I cannot believe how quickly time passes, but at the same time how settled I feel here in the Philippines and enjoying the new way of life. There is nothing quite like waking up at first light to the cockerels, and then the flow of tricycles driving past taking people to work. Or the delight of a refreshing bucket dunk first thing in the morning; and I am sat on our veranda writing this looking up at a clear night sky full of stars, listening to some great karaoke tunes blasting out of the neighbours house (so many golden oldies – Fleetwood Mac/Genesis/Sinéad O’Connor/Prince), surrounded by the cats who have taken to raiding our bin every night!
This week has been fun filled. We took the opportunity to meet and greet the individual dive centres that we shall be assessing for Green Fins (GF) in Sabang and Puerto Galera. Clad in our new GF tshirts it felt great to walk around and to be recognised and so warmly welcomed by the centres and punters on the strip. I will have to admit though my ego was slightly dented by my polo being sized 3XL (too many tasty baked goods from the patisserie (Milk doughnuts!!)/Filipino sizes are tiny!)
With so many dive centres located in such a small area it is a wonder how they all managed to be so successful but after exploring further it is clear see they all cater to the needs of different nationalities and the demands of different divers. I spent the day with Hannah, the Reef World intern, and Alan, we visited Filipino centres, Korean centres, English centres, Dutch centres, Aussie centres; all who were eager to organise training and where excited to tell us about some of the awesome species they had seen recently in the area. We also had time to visit Tina’s a small café in the corner of big Lalaguna bay where I had my first taste of a mango shake which went down a total treat after an afternoon in the sun!
As of yesterday we have finished all of the ZOOX modules, and this evening have a delicious graduation dinner planned, all prepared and cooked by Hannah! Admittedly some of the modules were heavier going than others, but I now feel fully equipped to take on whatever the next seven weeks has to throw at me. I’ve also developed interests in aspects of the conservation sector I may have never had the opportunity to discover for example the mechanisms and politics of ‘Global Conservation’. Who would have thought the challenges of creating a project and pitching it as you would a grant would be so engaging, even if Belinda and I lost our funding to Ans and Hannah?!
This week I also undertook the journey to Calapan solo for my third and final Hep B jab (phew!). The whole hospital experience was very plain sailing and like no other hospital encounter I have ever had. My lovely nurse sat me down in the A&E waiting room, told me to watch the live gecko running across the wall while she stabbed me with the needle, but absolutely no pain to be had! I will confess though there was a little wincing as to be expected from someone who is terrified of needles, but the male steward giggling at me quickly put me back in my place. One thing I really admire about all the Filiopinos I have had the pleasure to meet here is how totally friendly they are, and when I arrived at the bus station in the morning I was shown straight to the front seat of a Jeepney, and rode shotgun with the driver the whole hour, twenty minute journey. He told me all about the adventures of his seven children, and when getting the jeepney back to PG with him later, he insisted I sampled some of the great street food ‘Saba’ or in english “fried banana on a bamboo stick”, that you can find sold everywhere here.
Every Sunday the whole team is given a day of well deserved rest. So last week, as mentioned by Belinda already, we decided to pay a visit to the beach and then the local Aninuan falls. I am sure it is not even close to the best falls the island has to offer but we all enjoyed the 45 minute trek through the forest, made sweeter by coconut and cold water at the top. The cherry of the afternoon was definitely the four fun ‘guides’ we picked up along the way who serenaded us with their rendition of All of Me by John Legend.
Sadly all good thing must to come to an end, such as clean pants and fresh clothes, so this week got down and dirty to do my washing Filipino style! Less bubble powder needed next time!