Sunday, May 10, 2009

We went on an outing to Carbon yesterday after we finished our preparation day chores of cleaning, and laundry. Actually, it was an exploration, for we felt like we were in a far off land.

Carbon is part of Cebu, sort of like Meridian is almost part of Boise. It’s a 20-30 minute drive from the mission office, and we are very close every time we go to the post office to pick up packages. This is Cebu’s primary open market, where most things are available if you know where to look for them.

It was an average summer day; sunny, hot, (probably 95ish) and humid. I didn’t see many people mopping their brows (everyone carries a sweat wiper, which amounts to a hankie, or better yet, a smallish terry hand towel) except for Kevin and I. This was one of two times thus far that my whole person was covered in sweat. I know, I know—a sweat report in a blog?! What can I say; we westerners are amazed at the phenomenon. As amazing as profuse sweating is, seeing people in what I would term as hot clothing--long sleeves, high necks, even neck scarves and hats is even more amazing. But all in flip flops; we were the only people I observed at the market who had on regular shoes.

It was a check-out-and-be-checked-out experience. There we were—tall, very white, and dressed up. Oh and throw in my blonde hair for good measure. We stuck out, or as Kevin put it, we were a market item. I was a little uneasy, although I don’t think I had any reason to be. Kevin was relaxed enough to hear, “Mormon, Mormon” as we walked up and down.

Chickens for culinary purposes. Cock fighting is VERY big here--sometimes we wonder if the children get fed as well as the cocks.

The market is a mass of buyers and sellers, jeepneys loaded with people and supplies, commerce at its best.

If you're short a display table for your dried fish you can always use a nearby motorbike.

It was a sight, sound and smell smorgasbord! You can see from the pictures that there were all kinds of interesting nooks and crannies, but words are feeble when it comes to all the smells. There were good, savory, food-cooking smells. There were dried fish smells. There were moist-things-that-had-been-washed-into-the-street-to-molder smells. We walked, and looked, and were looked at.

Three local models, eager to be discovered by a passing photo journalist.

I’m sorry to report that we didn’t find the basket and gardening tool we went for. Most of the merchants have the baskets, usually in size XXL to hold their produce; they are hand-made, sturdy, and we would like a smallish one. No one could tell us where to get one! As far as the gardening tool—there aren’t garden centers, and maybe what they use to cultivate their flower beds are machetes, which are the Philippine equivalent of a leatherman. (Even kids carry them and are very adept at their use.) Next time we go to Carbon we’ll hire someone who knows the market and speaks English as well as Cebuano to help us find what we’re after. And next time I will relax and enjoy the adventure.

We next went to the old fort that was built by the Spanish to protect their interest here in Cebu. Unfortunately we were rained out and so we will have a picture or two when the opportunity avails itself to go back.

No day is complete here without interaction with some of the many jeepneys that follow their respective routes. My impression is that these became a way of mass transportation following WWII when many surplus 'jeeps' were modified such that they could carry passengers.

There is of course the driver but the real interest is the conductor type who hangs onto the back of the jeepney and waves at and attracts potential riders. At places where several jeepneys gather you will here inviting shouts from competing jeepneys. And there is always the actual jocking for the best position to pickup passengers.

The other side of the me lay that is in constant motion on the streets are the taxis. Their tactic is to spot you as a potential rider and honk to get your attention. Often they will slow down by you to assure that you are aware of their presence.

While the jeepneys mostly stay to the right side of the road, unless going around each other, the taxis on the other hand dart and weave. It is one great like one great big aquarium,....... many different types of fish all moving in concert with together and you don't see any fish banging into each other, each one finds there own way. It all seems to work!

While the taxis are all pretty much the same in appearance the jeepneys can be a real work of art. Over the next several blogs entries I will try to post a Jeepney of the Week.

This driver really smiled when I told him I wanted a picture of his jeepney!

We are loving the opportunity to be here, and engaged in the real work that we are asked to perform, that is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are learning more each day as to our office duties but find a myriad of opportunities to invite those around us in all our interactions to hear the message of the restoration.

All the best from this side of the earth.

The Reed in Cebu