It's official: I'm sick. I'm in Southeast Asia, it's 1,000 degrees here and I catch a cold. WTF?! The night we slept in Manila at the wife's aunt's house, we had the air conditioner on all night and Luca wouldn't use a blanket so he caught the sniffles and I obviously got it from him. I'm trying to remain positive but it's uncomfortable enough here without having to deal with a frigging cold at the same time. Cripes, I can't wait to see what happens to me next. I did finally break down this morning and told the wife that we are either buying a couple mattresses for the beds or we're checking into the hotel. My body can't take it anymore, my two hip bones are so sore I can't sleep - or even sit - comfortably anymore. There's a new store that opened up in Rosario recently called the Friendship Market so we went there this morning. It's kind of like a mini Filipino Wal Mart, it sells a variety of different stuff, everything from food and drinks to appliances, furniture, and other stuff. We bought a couple mattresses, some groceries and other stuff, then headed to Agoo afterwards. Agoo is another big city, about the same distance away as Dagupan. First stop: Jollibee. I was looking forward to it as the X Man said he was going to get the huge cheeseburger they have and he can only eat half of it so I was planning on eating the other half. I don't normally eat fast food and I can't remember the last time I ate a fast food burger but with all the Filipino farm food I've been eating...well, let's just say the thought of a big, juicy cheeseburger is very appealing to me right now. Unfortunately the X Man threw me a curve and opted for the Jollibee jumbo hot dog instead so my lust for cheeseburger goodness went unfulfilled. Oh well, maybe next time. The kids got pineapple juice with their meals and I gotta tell you, that was the best freaking pineapple juice I've ever had in my life. Just so fresh and delicious, not all syrupy sweet and crappy like the stuff you get where we live. The wife wanted to try some place called Inasal so we went there afterwards and the wife ordered a dish called Sisig. You can get it with pork or bangus but she got bangus and to my huge surprise, I loved it. She delighted in making fun of me for eating bangus as I'm always teasing her about how disgusting it is. But what the hell, that's why I'm always willing to try different things, you never know when you'll come across something you really like that you'd never think you would. I still don't like bangus in general but at least I found one dish with bangus that I like. Plus, it was made with a teryaki like sauce and some red chilis so you could hardly even taste the actual fish. On the way home I took my first ride in a Jeepney. It was pretty cool, nothing amzing or anything but at least I can say I rode in a Jeepney. Jeepneys are one of my absolute favorite things in the Philippines. They have an interesting history; the original jeepneys were surplus jeeps from WW2 that Americans sold or gave to the locals, who changed them up a bit to carry several passengers. Eventually they became the main mode of public transportation and at some point the Filipinos starting decorating them in loud, bright colors and designs. You see them everywhere and in the cities you probably see more of them than any other type of vehicle. I personally LOVE them, I just can't get enough of them. Some of them are so creative, it's fascinating to see what people here have done to them. I'd say the most popular themes are religious in nature as you see a lot of them with Bible verses painted on them or religious sayings and such. NBA teams are another popular theme. I've known about them for years and seen plenty of pictures but seeing them in person is nothing short of awesome (NOTE: If you want see how cool they are, go to Google Images, type in "Jeepney" and prepare to be amazed). Anyway, I was a popular topic of conversation between the other passengers and the wife as they asked her all kinds of questions about me and kept staring. The people around here are funny, they have absolutely no problem just staring right at you. Ain't no shame in their game either, they just stare right at you even if you stare back. I've been to a lot of different countries but never have I ever encountered anything like this. It's difficult to describe what it's like to walk around and have every single eye on you. Not only that but I watch people out of the corner of my eye and not only do they stare but they also tap their friends and point to me, as if their saying "look, that must be the legendary 'white man' we've heard people talk about!". I've given myself a nickname: "White Devil". I told the wife that sooner or later I'm going to be in the middle of the market and get so tired of all the staring and the pointing that I'm going to yell at the top of my lungs "THE WHITE MAN IS HERE AND I'VE COME FOR YOUR WOMEN!"
Anyway, as it turns out, Virginia has a friend who lives two houses down who is married to an English guy. She has been telling me about him and asking me if I want to go meet him and this evening we finally did. Her friend's name is Jovi and her husband is Steve, they live in London. Steve is a nice guy, we got along really well and it was really cool to have another white devil to talk to. I brought up football (soccer) early on in the conversation and his reaction gave me the impression that I was unfortunate enough to run into the only man from England who didn't like footie but then I asked him if he had a favorite team that he supported and you can imagine my pleasant surprise when he replied Tottenham! I've always been a Manchester United fan but the past 5 years or so, Tottenham have become more or less the team I follow and support most of the time. So we hit it off pretty good and I invited them to the pig roast we're doing on Saturday, which I'm really looking forward to. Jovi said something about them finding a dead snake just down a the road a little ways so I asked what she meant by "big snake" and she pulled out her camera to show me pictures. The thing was at least 8-10 feet long! It looked like a python which I guess are pretty common here since the rice fields are perfect hunting grounds with all the frogs and rats and stuff. This is not good because now, every time I walk out to dirt path I have to go through the rice fields and I am constantly scanning for snakes. It was freshly dead when they found it in the road and they picked it up and ate it I think. You can imagine how uneasy seeing those pictures has made me now. I'm still traumatized from the dual spider incidents that past couple nights and now this. We ended up chatting so much that we lost track of time and soon enough it started pouring out so we had to walk back to our house in the pitch dark, pouring rain. I did not enjoy that at all.
Despite the pictures Jovi showed me, I'm on 4 days now and still haven't seen a single snake. Let's hope it stays that way...