So the first month of living in Cebu is over. And I really hope that first month was the hardest.
I celebrated it, by going to a hotel that had a swimming pool, and we stayed for lunch. It was almost as if I escaped Cebu, I was in a different world, almost as if I was somewhere in Europe. I felt at home. The lunch buffet was amazing, to see western food again was so strange. I started to think how I'd feel when I arrive home to my mums cooking. I'd probably fall to my knees and cry!
So we sunbathed and relaxed by the pool, reflecting on our first month in the Philippines. Of course, so many ups and downs, more than you can imagine. But now we've learnt how to deal with things.
Also looking back at the day when we moved to our host homes; almost as if we were foster children, being taken and dumped into a new home. And that when I first arrived, the mother said to me "you're now one of my daughters." I found that extremely hard to take in.
And when I was just left in the host home with my Filipino counterparts, with a bunch of Filipinos that I didn't know, I struggled. I tried to find things to distract myself, reading books but I couldn't concentrate. That was frightening, but looking at me now, I've learnt most things from my host family. I've built relationships with them, and the mother knows me so well, bringing a bottle of ketchup to the table everytime she serves me food.
My FSL has definitely improved, I remember the very first day at the nunnery, not understanding a word the Filipinos say. Because when they sign, their lips barely move. But now, I understand most of what they say, and I'm teaching maths and english at work, all in FSL. It's amazing how quickly you can pick a language up.
As soon as I left the hotel, it was back to reality. Jeepneys everywhere, the sound of cars beeping, everything.
We all attended a meeting today. We were warned of the dangers in the Philippines; there are still terrorists around, the weather updates (the typhoon in Japan may make it's way over here). Throughout the meeting, I was thinking really?! Do I need anymore frightening information, I'm already scared enough as it is?! Almost as if I was thinking, what have I put myself into? A massive risk obviously.
I hand washed my clothes on Sunday morning, and it took the usual 2 hours. This time round, I got horrible blisters on my hands after doing so, the pain got unbearable so I stopped.
"Always the UK volunteers!" The host mother laughed when she saw my hands. My counterparts showed me their dents in their hands because of hand washing. I really don't know how they do it, washing clothes outside in the scorching heat. By the time I'd finished handwashing my clothes (it was about 10:30am), I had to do the dishes and clean the kitchen. I was exhausted by 12 noon, and to think I was going to meet my friends at the mall! Never have I ever done chores all morning, not to the point where I could go back to sleep anyway!
During the whole weekend, I've seen a million cockroaches, even in the toilet and a rat. Not those "cute" rats that people have as pets, but a massive rat, it was sickening. I froze when I saw it, scurrying through the bins.
"What? Come on, keep walking!" My counterpart said.
"There's a rat!!!" I screamed.
"Yes," she laughed.
Filipinos seem so calm when things like that happen. Like, when they see a cockroach, they'd be like 'oh,' and pick it up. Me, I'm standing in the corner of the room, just staring at it and hoping someone would rescue me!
Let's see if I'll encounter any more wild strange creatures in the next two months.