Now, you will be thinking, what changes have occurred, well many? Living here is a constant adjustment and learning experience. There is the culture, the food, the driving and the daily living in a country with so many differences. If you have been a follower of this site, you have read of many of my observations, experiences and my life here.
To me the biggest difference to adjust is the language. Yes, many speak English here, but the quality of English varies and we need to understand, English is not their first language. It is not their second language either. For most it is their third or fourth. To most here in Davao, their first language is Bisaya, their second is Tagalog and many speak a third or fourth dialect or language.
Another difference is the heat. I grew up in New York where we enjoyed all four seasonal changes. Then I lived in California where there were mainly two seasons, the hot summers and the cooler winters. From there I moved to Florida. In Florida we joked there was two seasons, over populated and not over populated. One person called it Gray heads and less gray, since Florida is the Mecca for retirees.
Here in the Philippines, it is hot and humid 12 months a year. The only cool days are if it is cloudy with lots of rain showers. Then the next day the sun evaporates the water and the humidity is even higher. There are cooler places up in the higher elevations such as Bagio on Luzon or up in Bukidnon on Mindanao.
Then there are the foods. Even though there are comparable foods to American items here, there are some items imported, there will be many things you cannot get here. With Restaurants, there are some that cater to the foreigner palate, most here, serve Filipino food. Even at home, unless you are a good cook, or your wife likes to experiment, you will be looking at a lot of plain white rice.
Postal service is another big difference. There are no outgoing mailboxes. If you want to mail something, you have to go to one of the few postal locations. For mail delivery, that is a flip of a coin. There have been many times I have not received a card or letter from America, and if it does come, it usually takes weeks to months to get here.
Insects and rodents are something to get used to, if that is that word. Ants are everywhere and they might be controlled, but never stopped. Mosquitoes are another problem, especially since some carry the Dengue disease. Cockroaches fly here and at night you might hear a buzz as you see this big back thing fly into your house or see them scurrying across the floor. Rats will try to find their way in. Some are cute little things a few inches long but some are the size of a cat.
Dust and dirt is another common item to control. In most homes, every morning the soft broom is used to sweep all the floors. The other day we washed my can and put a cover over it. The next morning the cover was removed an hour before I left the house and it already had a light coating of dust.
Traffic is another item to get used to here. There are many Jeepneys, taxis and motorcycles on the streets with the driving being a controlled, or not so controlled chaos. Good thing most of the time, vehicles do not drive at high speeds. As a driver, you need to watch for Jeepneys pulling out to taxis crossing lanes for a fare to motorcycles zigzagging and passing you on every side.
We are not to say life here is wrong because it is the way of life here. You can bitch and complain or just get used to it. They will not change the country to fit an expats needs.
Another item to mention is earning a living. I am a well-qualified Computer Architectural Project Manager. I am also able to manage or work in many areas but finding a job here is almost impossible. Opening a business needs capital and trying to make money on the internet is very difficult. Even keeping this site going has its costs for registration of the domain name and paying for hosting the site. Then there is the time spent thinking of articles of interest and answering the comments and emails.
If I could go back two years ago, would I have made the same decision? Probably I would, that was when the economy started to tank, there were no jobs available in the Architecture and housing industry, and my big priority was being with Elena. Since I could not afford to live in America, I came here to live with her in her country. I do wish I could earn more to give us all a better life, but it does not look like it is in the cards. I earn practically no money with American in Davao.