Friday night we moved into our new home. We intended to move earlier in the week, but with our transportation limited to taxis, getting the six of us and all our luggage from the hotel to our new home proved a challenge. We moved most of our luggage over on Thursday, then Friday we took our carry-ons, some groceries and some trash cans in two taxis and made the move. Daniel, Clementine and I rode in the first taxi. Everything was a little muddled as we climbed in, and the car ride was a little nerve-wracking. It was dark out, I had no idea how to get to the house, the taxi driver didn’t seem to be familiar with our neighborhood, and I had no house keys and no cell phone. But we arrived safely, with the second taxi arriving only a few minutes after us.
Saturday morning, we were glad to finally be in our house, but we were in a bit of a quandary. We had bought cereal, milk and eggs. But we couldn’t figure out how to turn on the stove, and we couldn’t find a spatula, bowls or silverware. Ben made the kids pb&j for breakfast using one of the CutCo knives we had brought in our checked luggage. The a/c (aircon) units in the main living area didn’t seem to be working, nor did the internet or the hot water heater. We decided I had better take another shopping trip and try to buy some more essentials, so I went out shortly after noon.
I took a taxi to Park Mall. My first action item was a latte from Bo’s Coffee. I proceeded from Bo’s to Daiso P88, the Japanese equivalent of the dollar store. I was stopped at the door–no drinks allowed. So I wandered the mall for a wee bit, furiously downing my iced latte. Then back at Daiso, I stocked up on a few items like food storage containers and cooking utensils. Next I went to a department store and bought mugs, forks and spoons. Last but not least I went to the grocery store. I had attempted to write a short, Asia-friendly grocery list. Of course, I had little idea what foods would be available here, so I was stumbling in the dark. But I knew dairy items would be limited and more expensive, and rice would be cheap and plentiful. We also needed diapers.
I found diapers easily enough, though when it came to choosing a size, I couldn’t remember the conversion between a pound and a kilogram. I decided to play it safe and go with size medium. They ended up being too small for Knox and too big for Clementine. No big deal, but next time I’ll be prepared.
One of the other items on my list was dry black beans. I figured dry beans must be available everywhere in the world. Fermented black beans is a Chinese food, right? I asked for dry beans and was directed to dried mango. Ah well, close enough. I did find canned black beans in the American section, but they were fairly expensive, and I have been unable to operate our can opener.
When I finished paying for my groceries, I looked at my cart-full of bags and wondered how on earth I was supposed to get them to the taxi. I figured if I wasn’t allowed to bring a covered drink into a dollar store, I certainly wouldn’t be allowed to take my cart all the way out to the parking lot. I began to try to load all the plastic bags onto my arms, only to discover I couldn’t lift them. A store employee watched me struggle, then assured me it was ok to leave with the cart. Whew!
I went out, caught a cab, loaded up my bags into the trunk, and climbed in.
“Villa Terrace, near Green Hills,” I said.
“Where?” asked the cab driver, pulling out of the mall.
“Green Hills,” I said.
“Where Green Hills?” said the cab.
Uh-oh. That was all I knew. Really. I broke into a sweat. Now what? I remembered that I had Ben’s phone with me, so I began furiously looking in his sent emails, trying to find our address somewhere. Nope. Next I opened google maps and tried typing in the name of our neighborhood. Nope again. The cab driver picked a direction and started driving. Oh no oh no oh no. I started searching the deep dark recesses of my mind for some clue of where I lived. I remembered passing a big factory the night before called Mandaue Foam.
“Mandaue Foam?” I asked.
“Ah, Mandaue Foam. Cebu City?” said the cab driver.
“Yes,” I said.
What other city could I mean? Aren’t we on an island–the island of Cebu?
Why did I say Mandaue Foam? I wondered. What will I do when we get there? I don’t live at Mandaue Foam.
I stared at the phone, wondering what else I could try. I pulled up Ben’s outgoing calls. There it was, my salvation–our realtor’s name. Beth would certainly know where I live. I breathed a sigh of relief when she answered.
“Actually this is Michal. I took Ben’s phone and went grocery shopping, but now I don’t know how to get home. The cabdriver doesn’t know Green Hills.”
“Put the cabdriver on.”
I understood few words of the following conversation.
“.……said Mandaue Foam……ahhhh, ok, ok.”
My cheeks were burning as the cabdriver handed the phone back to me.
“Cabancalan,” he said.
“Cabancalan? I live in Cabancalan?”
I laughed nervously. “Ok, next time I will know to say Cabancalan. Thank you. Cabancalan.”
I arrived home without further ado. And now I know that I live in Cabancalan, an area of Mandaue City, not Cebu City, and not particularly near to Mandaue Foam. I live, I learn.