Woke up extremely early this morning after finishing my last entry at last night. Everyone goes to bed early here, about 9 or 10 but it gets dark earlier than I thought, about so it feels much later for some reason! Roosters owned by our homestay are kept underneath our window – and they are so noisy!! They don't "crow" at sunrise like they're supposed to, nor do they make a simple "cock-a-doodle-doo" – these roosters start crowing late at night and don't stop until we get up and leave the house, and they sound like their necks are being strangled mid-squawk!
Anyway, following on from my last entry last night, Lorena and Natasha rode in the jeepney with us, asking questions and telling us about themselves.
Lorena: 23 year old Filipina; works for the agency we paid to come here, Volunteers for the Visayans (VFV) and is Ethel's assistant.
Natasha: 23 years old, apparently Australian but she told us she's originally from
and she also talks with an American accent – confusing… Has been here 2 months already and stays with the same homestay (host family) as us. Dubai
We jumped off the jeepney about 10 mins later and were surrounded by people. 2 guys took our suitcases – another volunteer, Alan, took mine and a Filipino guy picked up Grace's large and extremely heavy suitcase and held it above his head like it was empty! We were led along some dark lanes, passing a basketball court along the way, until we arrived at our homestay. Stepping past a barking dog on the porch, we were greeted by our "mother" who we are to call Nana Marlin and about 10 children/grandchildren, all different ages. Including a 4 month old baby boy with the cutest big eyes and is so strong that he can almost crawl already; "Shy-shy", a 9 year old girl who is anything but shy; and "Twinkle", an 11 year old girl who is chatty as well. Nana Marlin had prepared us a meal which was ready and we were ushered to the table to eat rice, vegetable dishes and some chicken and rice for me. No pancit, I was disappointed to see…
After finishing our meal and watching tv with the family for a while, Natasha and Shy-shy took us for a walk to show us a nearby internet café that would prove useful to us for the next few weeks.
Forgot to mention – also staying with us in our homestay is Evan, a tall 27 year old Australian guy who seems pretty friendly so far and has built up good relationships with the family in the 2 weeks that he has been here. He has a good rapport with the kids and they seem to love him. I think he looks half-Filipino or has a mixed ethnicity, but Grace disagrees, and I haven't asked him about it yet.
Back to todays events, we were taken for breakfast at the store, which our homestay family own. They sell Filipino dishes such as pancit that Nana Marlin makes herself. This store is also where the majority of the family sleeps although I haven't seen any bedrooms – they must be up the ladder that I spotted. Nana Marlin told us that everyday she gets up and goes to the market for food at , and cooks by the time we even get up ()! Breakfast was rice and vegetables again, with a bread that I think tastes like Madeira cake.
After breakfast, we went to the centre for our induction and Ethel (volunteer co-ordinator) just told us about the history of the agency, about our placement and homestay. We were also informed that we each have a sponsored local kid for the next few weeks who we have to pay special attention to. I met mine, Hazel who is eleven, straight away, downstairs at the centre where the kids were eating and watching tv.
Then for the majority of the day, we were taken on a tour downtown in Tacloban city by Lorena. Busy, confusing and HOT! Was feeling pretty skeptical about being able to figure it all out without any help – and we were to catch a jeepney the next day to the orphanage. We dropped by the orphanage to meet Sister Mystika (the orphanage is run by nuns). Luckily Matt, another volunteer who works at the orphanage, later offered to meet us at the centre, which is just around the corner, at and go with us as we're more than a little afraid of catching a jeepney by ourselves!
This evening, after a long nap (not sure if it was jet lag or lack of sleep due to those damn roosters), we had dinner at the store and sat by the bball court so I could watch the local guys play a little. Lots of little girls befriended us, so many names in such little time – I hope I remember them all in the morning.
Anyway off to bed, early start tomorrow!