Our first Monday in our new house (the day the boys started school and Ben started his new job), I had to take a taxi to pick the boys up from school. Around 3:15 I called the guard house, asked for a taxi, then went to wake up Knox from his nap. When I picked him up out of his bed, he was burning hot. I thought maybe it was because I didn’t run the aircon unit in his bedroom while he was napping. I quickly got him dressed and got my bag packed. When I heard the taxi outside the front door, I took him out and tried to set him in the back seat so I could get Clementine. For some reason he wouldn’t let me leave him in the backseat of a car with a complete stranger, so I set him on the front steps, got Clementine, then climbed into the taxi with both of them. When I sat down I discovered Clementine had a dirty diaper that had oozed all up her front…and I had no outfit change for her. Fortunately she was pretty chill about it through the entire, hot, hour-long drive to the school and back.
Knox seemed to cool down a bit during the drive, but that night he was looking pretty sick. The next morning he was burning hot again. Mid-morning, I was trying to figure out where I could get Ben’s work clothes washed and pressed, so I went to find the email address of another American mom in Cebu, given to me by one of Ben’s coworkers. I had meant to email her when we were back in the U.S. but I never got around to it.
My boys had been running around our new neighborhood with a boy named Bryson, but I hadn’t met his mother yet. When I looked at the email address, I realized it was the name of Bryson’s mom, and–lo and behold!–we lived in the same tiny neighborhood. I facebook messaged her, introducing myself, and the next thing I knew Michelle was knocking at my door.
After getting to know each other a bit, I mentioned that Knox was sick with a fever. She took one look at him and said, “Do you know I’m an ER nurse?” She told me it looked like pink eye, and wrote down the name of the antibiotic eye drops he needed. Then she drew a map to the nearest pharmacy, offered to watch Clementine while I went to get them, offered to pick up my boys from school… in short, she came to my rescue. I left Clementine with her, and Knox and I took a taxi to go get the eye drops. I got him on ibuprofen and the eye drops, and his fever came down a bit. That afternoon Michelle drove me to pick the boys up from school. After picking them up, she drove me to a nearby grocery store. She held Clementine and guided me through buying food, diapers, and laundry items.
The next day, another neighbor dropped by and said he was going to the store and did I need anything? They bought us a fan, a broom, some bread and wine, and a dish-drying rack, all of which were dire needs. Believe me.
This week we have met many neighbors–some Filipino, some expat. We spent much of Saturday and Sunday at our neighborhood pool with new friends, and it’s the perfect place to hang out. They’ve given us a very warm welcome, and we are grateful that God has already provided friends in this far-away place.
They’ve also given us plenty of good advice. Here are some of the pointers we’ve gotten thus far:
-Where to buy a cheap bike (in case you run over the neighbor kid’s [note the apostrophe indicating possession–don’t you just love the English language?])
-When to go swimming with whale sharks (not the weekend! not on holidays!)
-Where to get good Japanese pizza
-How to pay your utility bills online so you don’t have to go all around town paying them in person
-How to get an American DNS address so you can access Netflix, etc.
-Which grocery store has the best selection of western foods (Rustan’s)
-Watch out for the tap water and don’t use bleach (it’ll turn your laundry brown)
-Don’t use your dryer–electricity is too expensive
-Don’t leave your aircon running–electricity is too expensive
-Leave your aircon running–life is too short for eating supper in a 86F house
-Get a new, more efficient aircon unit–electricity is too expensive
-When you go up the mountain, choose the nicer restaurant so you can sit in comfortable chairs and eat good desserts.
-When you go up the mountain, choose the cheaper restaurant so you can bring your own beer.
-Watch out for the tap water and don’t use bleach (it’ll turn your laundry brown!!!!)
Anyhow, we’re looking forward to getting to know them better during this next year. Needless to say, they’re a diverse, adventurous lot. And they’re making us feel right at home.