Observed: Attempted Vehicular Manslaughter and Hand Washing with Bleach

 The final chapter!   More quirks and quips that don’t quite make a story…

  • To the untrained eye, it would appear that “tricycle” drivers are constantly trying to run me over. Really, this is their bizarre way of trying to get some business. They steer slowly closer and closer as they putt toward me, until I physically have to step aside so as not to get hit (at which time they usually roll to a stop). All of this is in hope that I will suddenly go, “Oh! Hey! A tricycle! You know, I didn’t realize this before, but I really want a ride. Excuse me, sir. Could you give me a ride, please? Oh, and actually I prefer to be overcharged, if you wouldn’t mind.”

One of the many ways to get around. Not for the faint of heart nor the corpulent. As discussed below, this is the version in Manila.

  • The size of public transport options — namely tricycles and jeepneys — vary by region here in the Philippines. Usually it’s an inverse relationship — if the tricycles are burly (Palawan, Siquijor), the jeepneys are minatures. If the jeepneys are like stretch-Humvees, the tricycles are (as my friend Penelope put it) “like riding around in an eggshell” just a few inches off the ground. (Manila, Angeles).

  • Camel Rock, El Nido – is King Kong. Camel Rock, Humboldt California – is a baby monkey.

    Camel Rock El Nido - storm day. (p.s. I named the rock. No one else calls it that.)

  • When washing your hands in small eatery kitchens (the only water source), if the “soap” won’t lather no matter how much you use, probably you just doused yourself with bleach.

  • The internet is the modern-day tracking device. Someone asked me recently if I was at all worried that the U.S. government might become suspicious as to why I was gone out of the country for so long and perhaps might suspect me of sharing U.S. secrets with governments around the world. I had to explain to her that with facebook and a blog, my life is an open book. Wide, wide, wide open.Mi vida - un libro muy abierto...

  • On a similar topic — an annoyance I’ve become accustomed to… that darn internet is too smart. So often I am denied the privilege of watching videos, creating certain accounts, or being allowed to use specific websites. “Sorry, ________ is not available in your country.” GRRRR!

  • “Christian names” are the rule here such that many hip young people have names that — in the U.S. – you only hear on black-and-white T.V. re-runs or when visiting a nursing home. Elmer, Herbert, Francis… all have mad break dance skills. My dive instructor (a bad-ass former bodybuilder who looks about 25 and runs his family business) was christened Peter Albert, but he goes by the second — not the first. Interesting.

Albert with his beautiful wife...

  • The “sit by the door” issue is something that drives Pat nuts on jeepneys. Remember, these are basically two benches facing each other in the back of a small truck with a really, really long bed and a “topper” so short that I can’t sit up straight without hitting my head. And of course, if you’re the last one t0 get on, you have to squat-crawl your way all the way to the back. After I injured my foot, I started making people move.   Politely. And old grannies make people move by crawling in and sitting on them. This “create-a-space” move is used by anyone who doesn’t want to contort themselves to get to an empty seat. The just step up and lower themselves onto the laps of those who are sitting where they want to be sitting. Wah-lah! Suddenly there is enough space for one more tail bone!

    Yup! Inside of a jeepney. And guess where the only freenspace is...


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