Thursday, February 17, 2011

Moving out, Manila, and such

So it is official, I am now living on my own here in Buenavista!  I moved into my apartment on Tuesday and this past week I have been really busy buying tons of stuff for my place.  It is a really simple apt. with concrete floors, a tiny kitchen, with a smaller bathroom.  I took some pictures and I will try and post them on here at a later date.  My friends had a house warming party in which we cooked fish and rice and we used a cardboard box as a table.  It reminds me of my college days thinking you have almost everything you need for your place, but reality smacking you in the face when you realize you dont even have a table to eat food on.

I have been gearing up for our assessment of our MPA this week to. My counterpart and I went to the site and I did some snorkeling to familiarize myself with it.  However, the visibility was really low and I had to swim a good 400-500 yards to get it.  We will have two boats taking us to the 6 different points of the MPA so we will be assessing those 6 areas in the "core zone" to get baseline data.  I hope the mayor will be able to throw some money at this project because it is my main goal here.  I will start writing a VEG grant starting in April after we have a training.

I was at Morgan's site a few weeks ago which was really fun.  Except for the fact I had explosive diarrhea the entire weekend we managed to have a good time.  We went to this mangrove island one day, hung out at a few resorts, and I was able to meet many of her friends.  They made burritos the last night I was there which was a great meal too.  We ended up going to Manila with this guy that lives down at Morgans municipality on the weekends.  It is about a 2 to 3 hour drive, but 1 hour into the ride his car started to overheat and we had to stop every 5 mins to put more water in the radiator until we reached a mechanic.  We finally made it to Manila and we stayed at our favorite pension house and I ran into this British guy that I had met through another PCV.  So, we all went to this reggae concert thing because apparently it was Bob Marleys birthday.  It was one of the cooler experiences that I have had here in the P.I. because usually Filipinos like 80's rock and pop music like Lady Gaga and such.  Morgan almost managed to put her cigarette out on my knee which extremely unpleasant, I still have the blister to prove it... We got our butts out of bed early the next morning to watch the Super Bowl which was a great time too, started at 730 in the morning.  Overall a good time was had by all and am looking forward to my next trip back to Manila.  Gotta cut this post short because I was only able to grab this computer for 30 mins.
Dason lang-

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

1st month of the new year

Hello all...
The snail paced Internet at my host family's house went down sometime about two weeks ago.  I had a blog post written out on my computer and saved on my external hard drive to post.  However, I have better luck winning the lottery than finding a wireless connection at my site.  So, since I am so dedicated to all 15 of my followers to keep you all up to date I am writing a new one at an Internet cafe by my house.  Well I think my last post was just at New Years so I will share some of the CRM stuff I have done this month of January.  Starting with submitting our final draft for 50,000 pesos for our tilapa cage project to the provincial government.  My counterpart and I started writing it the first few weeks at site and turned in our rough draft probably about 6 weeks ago.  A representative from the provincial government came into our office last week to critique it and we ended up doing a pretty good job.  The main goal is within the next year is to get both local fisherfolk and farmers to be able to rent or own a tilapa cage in which we will provide training for them so they can grow and end up selling the fish they culture as an alternative livelihood.  This is really good news because the main project that I am heading up at my site is an MPA and this will cut fisherfolks income who fish within the MPA now.  So, this will provide them with an alternate way to make some more cash to feed their families.  We should be hearing back with our funding within the next 4 weeks, then we can take the next steps like finding a few sites for clean water impoundments, getting cages, feed, etc.  Another thing I finished up here in January is a proposal to my supervisor to get 2 other PCV's up here during the last week of February (my birthday) to conduct an assessment of our proposed MPA.  I got about 3900 pesos for transportation for the other two PCV's, food, and the other necessary materials for conducting our assessment.  Once that is done I will start on a VEG grant (volunteers for environmental governance) to get money to get our MPA up and running.  If your noticing a common thread here it is that there is not much money to be had which makes doing projects extremely challenging. But, this is just another challenge that we as CRM PCV's here in the Philippines must face.  It really depends on where you were placed because some sites have more money and drive to get things done than others.  Lastly on the CRM front I hope my counterpart and I will be able to finish the surveys of the 16 costal brgys sometime soon so we can present our fisherfolk data of Buenavista to the provincial government.  We have 7 done and currently and I have complied all the data in an Excel now its just a matter of getting the last 9 done.

I sprained my thumb in the second week of January playing basketball in our league.  It was playoffs and we had won our first game and I went out in the fourth quarter because I thought I had broke it for sure.  We ended up losing that game to the PNP (police) and they ended up winning the league later on that week.  But, the story that comes with the thumb is something I need to tell.  So, I immediately left the game and told my counterpart I think its broken.. so we get into some random guys car and he starts driving to what I think is the small hospital we have here in my municipality.  But, I soon realize that is NOT the case.. we drive 20 mins to some far flung area and pull up at this guys nipa hut and he comes out and takes me off to the side.  He speaks absolutely zero English.  So I am trying to tell him that I think its broken and I need an X ray, he clearly has no idea what i am talking about because he starts yanking on my thumb trying to relocate because I guess he thinks its dislocated.  I am screaming at the top of my lungs for him to stop, but this doesn't deter him he gives it three more violent tugs and puts some weird cream on my thumb and say "ok na."  Easily on of the most painful experiences in my life.  These guys are called hilot hilots and they are basically local "doctors" in really rural areas that have no medical degree, but sure ancient remedies and such.  I ended up going to a real hospital the next day and there was no break, but I had to wear a bandage on my thumb for 3 weeks and it is better now.  I actually played for the first time this morning, so it seems to have recovered fully.

I will be headed up to Manila this weekend to grab some materials for our assessment in February and then I will off to meet up with Morgan at her site which is about a 2 hour bus ride from Manila.  We are gonna do some camping and hopefully some scuba diving since her site has lots of dive shops where I can rent some gear.  I am dying to scuba dive, but it is something I am going to have to do away from my site because we dont have the money or the dive shops here for gear.  Lastly, my regional manager from the PeaceCorps will be coming to my site on Friday...she will  be talking to my host family, supervisor, and counterpart.  Then I will be taking her to the place I am trying to live at when I can move out on Feb. 15th.  That is all for now.
Dason lang