It has been almost a year since my last blog so I thought I would bring you into my life a little bit... I visited the site of two other Peace Corps Volunteers last week because we were invited to facilitate a teacher training for about 200 teachers from the surrounding public and private secondary schools. Well, initially the training was targeted for about 60 teachers... but every day the number of participants grew and on the morning of the training we actually had 200 teachers. So we made room. The more, the merrier- right? The training went well- we discussed four different topics: Visual Aids, Multiple Intelligences, Differentiation, and Classroom Management. After one week of preparing and one full day of presenting we were all tired and ready for a day of relaxation. One of the Peace Corps Volunteers suggested that we explore a remote island nearby her site.
On Saturday morning we woke up bright and early. The sun was shining and we had our bathing suits, sun block, our camera, and bags of food for our day of fun! We rode a tricyle to the shoreline and then packed ourselves into a pump boat that would take us to the island. The scene was idyllic. White sand beaches, calming waves, palm trees swaying the breeze, and nipa huts scattered along the coast. Smiling, laughing, and taking pictures we were giddy as we pulled up to shore.
First, we must greet the barangay captain of the island to pay our respects and acknowledge a proper greeting. As we walk up to his “office” we notice about 50-70 young school children hanging around the school. I thought this was a little strange, since it was Saturday but at this point I didn’t really put much thought into the situation. About 5 minutes into our greeting with the barangay captain, we discover that he has invited all of the school children from grade 1-3 to attend school on Saturday because American volunteer teachers have come to teach them all day. Surprise! Somehow there was a miscommunication and they were under the impression that we were there to teach all day. We felt horrible because we were letting down the kids, who were dressed in their finest, and expecting an exciting day with us. So we tried to recall songs from when we were little and the only one I could think of was the body parts song. “Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes.... eyes and ears and mouth and nose...” the other song we sang was the “Hokey Pokey.” We offered to return if they wanted to set up a day camp another time when we could prepare something for the children. Agh, but we felt horrible!
So we slowly trudged back to our pump boat, spirits considerably lower than they were before and made our way to the other side of the island, where we would set up camp for the day. Unfortunately it was low tide so we had to wade through the shallow water on sharp rocks in order to make it to shore. Ok lang. Wala problema. We were determined to get to shore! A few minutes after we arrive on the beach we look up to the sky to thank God. We have finally arrived; it’s time to relax! However, what we see up above is a different story. To our left we can see a storm brewing and to our right, the promise of a sunny day. Which way will the wind blow? Our answer is sudden. The sky transforms from bright baby blue to a grayish-black fog. The rain begins to fall and drowns our hope of a sunny day. We look around at each other and begin to laugh. Seriously, we look ridiculous! Standing there huddled under a tree guarding our food from the pack of scrawny mutts that are desperately waiting for a scrap of tinapay to drop, wearing a bathing suit and t-shirt that is drenched with rain water, and sun glasses to protect my eyes from the wind pelting me with daggers of water. One of the PCV’s decides to head back early, I can’t imagine why? We see him drift away in the pump boat, only to return 5 minutes later. The boat is broken. Sayang. At least we have a good story to tell, if we make it off the island...
Eventually we all return home- boil water and take a nice, soothing bucket bath, put on warm clothes and snuggle up while drinking hot coffee and watching a movie. You know, it wasn’t the day we planned, but when does that ever happen in Peace Corps... At the end of the day the only thing that matters is that we’re with each other and we have something to share that we can laugh about.