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Published: March 2nd 2018
Well, I wanted an experience and yesterday was all that and more. I had my sticky rice chicken breakfast from a street stall just around the corner, went for a walk to find the Supermarket and couldn’t, came back,
The drive was hair raising and heart attack material for 70 kilometres. The driver was pretty good but we spent most of our time over the centre line with him on the horn, meanwhile evading on-coming traffic and then answering his phone to boot. Also talking to Tam in the back. Narrow roads as well and thousands of motor scooters none of which showed the least interest in moving over despite the horn symphony he was blowing. We crossed rivers, canals, raced through the countryside with stalls selling food and paraphenalia right on the road edge; through small towns, past huge coconut plantations, as the province we were now in was famous for coconut production, and to a roadside place for lunch.
Against my better judgement I had a pork and rice dish – I was only a little nervous because I spotted the flies in the meat cabinet. It was actually quite tasty. Then on to the school, a dusty, litter strewn two storey place and hot as hell. I was nervous about the teaching as I had quizzed Tam on what was expected and she was not full of information.
Then we drove back into the gathering night. The same recipe as before but I was feeling fatalistic about it so sat back and tried to ignore it. I must admit that even Tam at one point sat up straight and said something that sounded like an oath but may not have been - she’d thought we were going to hit a truck. I realised then that if she was edgy it must be pretty bad. But we made it.
And then..... dinner. Tam had said she was going to cook dinner – pancakes with snails. She asked me if I’d eat the snails and I said, “of course”. However, when I came downstairs after changing clothes, Ms Cuc had decided that we needed some health food and she had gone and ordered black chicken. Apparently she had told Tam that pancakes would be “too heavy on stomach and Mr Robin wouldn’t sleep” among other supposed benefits of the black chicken.
Well, I thought I’d try most things so here goes.
It turned up, one for me and one for Tam. I took the lid off to see an actual black, small, chicken body complete with eyes and beak, feet, wings, sitting in a black soup with a few unrecognisable bits of vegetation floating around. It didn’t get my tastes buds roaring but to be fair to Ms Cuc I tried to eat it. "Tried" being the operative word here. It was stringy, black (the “medicine” does that to it Ms Cuc said), I wasn’t sure it had been gutted and all in all I thought I’m not bloody eating this!!!! So, after 5 minutes of staring in amazement at this thing, I called Tam aside and told her that I didn’t want to upset Ms Cuc but I couldn’t eat it. She was understanding and told me to put it in the fridge whereon I took off for the supermarket to find some wine to ease my pain but also food to snack on. Found it minus the wine, came back and snacked on a banana, cheese and crackers, yoghurt and a cashew nut biscuit with a cup of tea. The funny thing was that when I again apologised to Tam for not eating the chicken she said she hadn’t either; she couldn’t and hers was in the fridge as well.
Ms Cuc is a little domineering and knows best and it’s difficult to get her to understand what one’s own needs are. She means well but I’m getting a bit more direct with her; at the same time I also don’t want to get her offside.
That was my day.
The city is easy to get around in. It's all flat and seems to be laid out in a grid pattern so apart from not reading the street signs very well I can find my way around in the immediate vicinity. Things are cheap: I had cracked the glass on my cell phone at home and had been quoted $290 and two weeks for it to be replaced. I declined as it was still working. Over here it got fixed in a day and cost me US$35. Groceries are priced way lower than at our local Countdown. Something rotten in the state of......... NZ methinks. I'm not sure about riding the bike that is here for my use. I find the scooters a bit too intimidating but maybe after a few more days I'll have worked it out. Tam takes me places on the back of her scooter and when you're in the middle of it it doesn't seem quite so terrifying.
I am sleeping ok at the moment, at least as good as at home, dozing on and off through the night. It’s a bit lonely with me being the only native English speaker here and trying to be polite all the time. I’ve only seen one other white face here and he was on a scooter. It’s certainly not a tourist destination but in saying that I am enjoying the different experiences and it is only a few days since I left. I am sure I will find many things to do and look at over the next few weeks. I do wish Lyn was here though :-(
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