Archive for September, 2013

Culture shock.

Culture shock.

More than a year has passed already, both me and Stella  on the go every day early in the morning, driving her “farmer’s car” as she called her preferred  multicab Suzuki 4X4  visiting her lands in preparation for the “big project” plantation of trees on 30 hectares that is.

Culture shock.

Culture shock.

An adventure I had never thought she could handle with such easiness provided the area is remote, 4X4 cars can only go as close as 2 kilometers, meaning walking the rest of the distance no big deal, but transportation of seedlings fertilizers and other material had to be done on carabao.

Myself, driving another ” Passenger” multicab,  I bought it new, made in the Philippines!…What a joke!.. Equipped with a Suzuki engine but the rest was a  total rip-off. 13 years later still runs but with crutches!…

 

 

 

 

 

Culture shock.

Culture shock.

Anyway, the time had come for me to handle the 400 mahogany and other species of standing trees I bought. Daily meeting in the forest with my favorite chainsaw man Armand, an artist in his trade, known as “the electronic precision” tree trunk slicer, doing with a Still brand chainsaw better than a band saw sometimes on 50 centimeters in diameter.

Once done,  daily trips to Cebu for machinery and accessories, setting up a shop making a reproduction of classic French design massive wood parquet tiles, furniture and other woodwork in quantities limited to my personal need.

Culture shock. 

Social life was limited, no time, a few drinks with a small number of foreigners living in the area, mostly good people but felt a bit shocked to see a number of them in their 50’s and 60’s  even 70’s with wives in their 20’s, felt a bit sorry for the girls when reading the embarrassment on their faces and the artificial, I’d say fake manners and fabricated forced expressions to look happy during the gatherings. They weren’t. Remember, we are in Bohol, not in Cebu. Local boys were making fun of them, editorialists in the local newspapers also, this kind of foreigners wasn’t welcomed.

Culture shock.

Culture shock.

I’ll never forget that day about a scene in the SuperCat boat going to Cebu when all eyes of the passengers were turned towards a couple with a baby. He was an American in his 60’s short, skinny and bald, a sunburned skin was making him look even older.

The girl, looked in her teens, a small body, short also, very dark skin, shy, looked like still works in the rice field with that baby maybe days or maxi a few weeks old in her arms it wasn’t something the locals had seen often.  The couple did not exchange a single word of conversation during the 2-hour trip.. Talk about enthusiasm…

Life in Bohol becomes boring after a while. The beauty of Panglao Island entertains the tourists including sex tourists with imported “entertainers” from Cebu and Manila and other provinces but when one lives there and has visited the place countless times it’s time for renewal of interests.

The choice isn’t easy. Especially when you live in a gated house in a land of 3000sq.meters with a securely build fence  locals aren’t happy with you. They used to cross this land to reach a destination a few minutes faster, now they have to go around and that bothered them.

But slowly this issue was resolved, diplomacy and “beautiful eyes” manners beat the hostility of those wanted to paint us “the neighborhood new conquistadors” but for once wasn’t an “Amerikano”, as white skin foreigners are called regardless of their nationality; I was privileged to be called   “The Griego” referring to my ethnic background, even though I was the holder of a US Passport and known as a US citizen to the PH immigration.

Culture shock.

Culture shock.

looking through the fence kids passing by on the way to school wearing “chinilas” (Cheap plastic sandals)  walking 3 kilometers to reach the elementary school brought me back to my childhood in Greece, that childhood whatever could be in a bloody civil war that had just ended. Culture shock. 

I learned later from the teachers that many had not taken breakfast before going to school. A few hundred meters outside the north side of my fence an old lady in her late 70s, living alone was sharing the basic food when available to her (Rice and salted fish) with two mentally retarded in their 40’s. Some of the neighbors came to my house and ask if I could help. Read the rest of the story here

Next in a few days : The Rotary International years

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