Hey hey hey-
I’m back in Buenavista with quite a lot to catch you all up on… Some of it good, or even great news…other pretty dreadful, so sit back and enjoy this one. Also a side note, yesterday was the mark of my FIRST YEAR in the Philippines. I cannot believe I have been here for a year already, time has really gone by fast!
As I had mentioned in a previous blog post I bought some scuba gear recently (BCD and regulator). Since, there are not too many dive sites (1) within 7 hours of my site I am going to have to either get on a plane or a long bus ride to dive. So, the first weekend of August I planned on going to Anilao to break in my NEW dive gear. Anilao is about two hours south of Manila and one of the more popular dive spots in the Philippines because of its close proximity to Manila. I woke up the day before I was supposed to get on a plane to Manila with two pretty significantly sized lumps under my jawline. So, I immediately got on a boat to go to the hospital in Iloilo. I saw an ear, nose, and throat specialist who told me I had a block salivary gland and prescribed me some anti inflammatories and some sort of mouth rinse. He said I was ok to get on a plane, but diving would be a bad idea because of the combination of pressure and swelling. I woke up the next morning and the swelling had gone down and I felt way better.
I decided to get on the airplane and spend the weekend at Morgan’s site instead (3 hours south of Manila). However, my sickness only got worse throughout the weekend and I woke up on Sunday morning with my face looking like it had been in ring with Manny Pacquiao for 10 rounds. My face was swollen out to my cheekbones and I had trouble opening my mouth to brush my teeth, eat, I had a fever of over 100 degrees, hot and cold sweats, sharp pains in my forehead area, etc. So, I spent most of Sunday sleeping while Morgan got me more pills from the “pharmacy” and cooked me a cream of corn soup. Major thanks go out to her for putting up with my sub-par attitude for three days!
I took the first van to Manila on Monday, August 8th at 4:30AM because I had a meeting with some PeaceCorps staff about my grant and also to see a PCMO (Peace Corps Medical Officer) about my face. I arrived back in Manila around 7 AM and went straight to the office to turn in my last remaining documents for my grant. I then got checked out by a PCMO who immediately diagnosed me with parotitus… aka MUMPS! Considering this is the first time I have been sick in the Philippines parotitus isn’t the worst thing in the world. Some other illness common here among volunteers are: amoebas, intestinal worms, dengue fever, hookworm… So not so bad, always got to look at the glass as half full as a PCV. I was put on medical stay by the PCMO and told to report back to the office the next morning for a check up.
I received a text from P.C. staff later that afternoon saying my grant was approved and I would be getting my money on September 1st! Finally after two months of writing and revising I got the funding secured and immediately texted my counterpart with the good news. We were both very excited and will start working on the long implementation process in early September. This was the one piece of good news that I received while in Manila. If anyone wants a copy of my proposal just let me know.
So, I went back to the office on Tuesday the 9th for a check up and there were no signs of improvement. I ended up sleeping in a little makeshift hospital room they have at the office for ½ the day on Tuesday. PCMO made me another appointment to come back on Thursday which I did. There was improvement, but still not enough for me to get cleared back to site. I finally started to feel better on Friday. While I was not quite 100% I felt better, but the PCMO decided to keep me for the weekend just in case.
Being sick always sucks no matter where you are, but it sucks even more when you’re in Manila..alone. Walking around doing menial tasks like… trying to find food while constantly being harassed by beggars, lady boys, pimps, and street vendors is very taxing. I almost exploded a few times because of combination of the heat, illness, noise, smell, and constant pestering I felt. Don’t get me wrong I felt like this because I was sick and it amplified everything to a new level, but these things one needs to accept when in Manila. I pretty much spent most of my days sleeping, trying to find food, drinking copious amounts of water, avoiding mosquitos, watching shows on my computer, and reading. I stayed at PeaceCorps Pension house which is pretty similar to a hostel. I had my own room with a fan, so I didn’t have to sleep in a dorm with 12-15 other strangers.. that was a plus.
There were finally some other PCV’s that came to Manila on Friday evening and by then I started to feel like myself. It was nice to be social for a change .. I was a reclose for 5 or 6 days there. Saturday Morgan and I went to Chinatown and Rizal Park, both places I haven’t been yet in Manila and I enjoyed them very much. Sunday we went to a farmers market and was completely blown away. There was music, crafts, so much foooooooooooood… bbq, thai, vegetarian options, French, Mexican, burgers. It was unlike anything I had seen before in this country, really reminded me of home and will definitely be returning next time I am rolling through Manila.
I went back to P.C. office on Monday the 15th (marking 1 week in Manila) to get medically released and finally was successful. They bought me a flight back to site later that afternoon. I spent Monday and ½ of Tuesday back in Buenavista and departed for Barotac Nuevo to conduct a lecture on (CRM) Coastal Resource Management at Iloilo State College of Fisheries (ISCOF).
All of the CRM volunteers on my islands have counterparts who graduated from ISCOF, so we were invited to give a lecture on CRM and also PeaceCorps. It was one of the more rewarding experiences I have had here in the Philippines. The audience was made up of about 150-200 fishery, eco tourism, graduate students, professors, and other staff. We presented on Wednesday morning starting at around 9 A.M. and finished our lecture at around 11. There was then about an hour Q&A session with the audience. I personally presented on PeaceCorps Philippines and my main project at my site, implementing a Marine Protected Area. The audience was really engaged.. taking notes, asking questions, one of them even asked if they could help us with some our projects at site. We got invited to give the same lecture at the same college and at another college in Nortern Iloilo province as well. After we finished our part of the program we were given really nice certificates of participation (Filipino culture) and we had lunch with some of the professors. They all had taught our various counterparts and told us funny stories about them. My counterpart was MR. ISCOF, at some point when he was a student there hahaha! Overall it was a great few days and I am looking forward to going back sometime next year to do another lecture.
|Lecture on MPA's|
|PCV's with fisheries students|
That’s all I got for now. I’ll keep everyone updated on how my MPA implementation goes over the next 4-6 weeks.