Maayong Gabi-I from the Philippines yet again!
Yet another month has come and gone. I quite can’t get used to how fast time is passing here. And what’s more is with each month that passes, I like my service here more and more. I’ve been quite happy lately, that’s not to say I wasn’t before. This is just a higher degree, I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve been busier, felt more comfortable at site or just feeling more appreciative of the small things. Either way, I’m happy that I’m happy!
The first two weeks or so of July I got to spend at site where I kept following up with the teachers from my training and I started to brainstorm what my next project would be. After a week, I left (for the third and last time) to my friend’s site to finish helping her with habitat assessments…
Wow wow, let me back track a second because… I just forgot something that happened just before going to my friend’s site… EARTHQUAKE. Yes, you heard right, my island was shaken up by a 6.9 magnitude earthquake. Did I feel it? Yes! Was I terrified? Absolutely. Well to be honest I would say that I was unsettled more than anything. To be siting in your office to then feel it shaking all around you can make you feel slightly uneasy. Post-earthquake we lost power; initial estimates said that power would be restored in 2-3 weeks, so the very next morning I went out and bought me some candles [60 to be exact]. That same day I spent the day sweating it out with my coworkers as we all took turns charging our things on the generator my office was hooked up to. The weekend consisted of more sweating and finding ways to spend the time without a phone or computer.
So back to where I was, I headed down to my friends site and we spent the days doing seagrass, coral reef and mangrove surveys. I guess it was a good week to have no power since at least I had my friends to entertain me. Come Thursday, a week after the earthquake, I get woken up by my friend Bennett in the middle of the night, THE POWER IS BACK! And we know this because we kept the fan plugged in day in and day out in the hopes that it’s glorious breeze would save us from the misery of the heat and mosquitoes, and alas, that it did. [Oh! And to compound all this I had a treacherous ear infection all that week]
After a week of surveys we headed south to our favorite dive resort for PADI women’s dive day. My two island mates and I in addition to visitors from the two surrounding islands spent the day diving at Napantau Reef, beautiful as ever, celebrating women divers! Originally we were only to dive on Saturday, but the next day they were going to a new dive spot I’d been craving to go to. Again, my dive heart spoke louder than my wallet and I made two more dives on Sunday. Beautiful clear waters and such a feeling of serenity underwater were definitely worth the extra pesos. I came away from that weekend with a lot less money but three times as happy.
Back at site, I continued working on different things. Among them I started writing a grant for Participatory Coastal Resource Assessments. I will explain this in more detail in the future but for now I’ll tell you PCRAs aim to gather local knowledge through group discussions and socioeconomic surveys in addition to habitat data through assessments of the habitats themselves. In addition to this grant, I kept working with the teachers, setting up events for future dates such as mangrove plantings, coastal clean ups and solid waste management symposiums.
At the end of the month, I got to go to Mailhi National High School were my friend Bennett and I would be presenting to 100+ students about solid waste. Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I’m mortified of children, so this seemed a daunting task. The night before I stayed up late into the night thinking of everything that could go wrong. But when the day came, the stars aligned, and I had an amazing time! First of, the school is beautiful located high up in the mountains where you can see everything. That day, those students were a dream, so well behaved and attentive. Never have I seen a group of students so engaged and excited about environmental education. We did some basic presentations and to drive the point home of our lectures, we constructed a trash timeline to show how long it takes for trash to decompose and then we played a game where students identified what each type of trash was [recyclable, biodegradable, residual or special]. At the end of the presentation we had a great lunch with the other teachers and I even got invited to their upcoming fiesta! To say my fears were unwarranted is an understatement.
To end off the month, me and Bennett headed off to the neighboring Island of Bohol to meet our friend Mel who lives there. After a trike ride, overnight ferry, fast craft ferry and another trike ride we were there. That Saturday I spent the day getting a brand new tattoo, which took all of five hours. After that I headed to he hostel were I showered, changed and hit the town with my friends. Also on this island there are the most amazing deli sandwiches I have had in a LONG time. So I ate those… a couple of times. Sunday morning we spent on the beach and after catching some rays, we bought another sandwich and started our trek home.
Hope you enjoyed another blog and another month in my life.
Until next time, or as they say here, kitakits!