Yesterday I went to the immigration office downtown to go and renew my visa. That means that I have been in the Philippines for 2 months now. What’s more is that I went there on my own and I braved the journey there on a scooter! It is situations like this that makes me realize how we are slowly but surely adapting to life here in the Philippines.
I’m sure there will be some of you that would be able to relate to the feeling of arriving in a foreign country with no family with you. It’s a strange feeling going to bed that first night and not really knowing what your immediate surroundings look like. For the first day your world is as big as the house you are staying in or the room you are sleeping in and often you ask yourself, how am I going to make it? At least this is what I experienced.
But then you get bored with the house and you go outside. In my case I first started to explore my neighborhood. Then I ventured a little further to SM City, our local shopping mall using a motorbike taxi. My first experience of the madness of downtown Cagayan de Oro I experienced from the relative safety of a private vehicle but it wasn’t long before I took the bold step of going down there with a taxi. And now me and Katrien often go down there in the Jeepneys(one of the cheap modes of transport).
To be honest, Cagayan didn’t impress me at first. It didn’t seem like there was much to do here but as we started to explore and got to know our surroundings we realized that there are lots of gems waiting to be found. Katrien has mentioned some of them in her previous blogs. In the last 2 months we have had some amazing experiences as we have become more used to our environment and ventured into the unknown areas of the city. Now we add a new activity to our to-do list every week.
We have also come to know the friendly Filipino people better. And this has also made us feel more at home. The people are really friendly here. You would often find a random guy on a motorbike screaming HELLLO….. and waving as he races past you. Our neighbors and the people in our community have also started to engage us more and more in conversation, greeting us and practicing their English. And we would in return practice our Cebuano to their amusement.
I have realized that we as humans have the ability to adapt very quickly. That as you start exploring your surroundings the unfamiliar becomes familiar, the neighborhood that seemed ugly actually becomes pretty, the strange people become friendly and even friends, the downtown area that seemed like a madhouse you become very comfortable in and the thought of a year in your new city starts to excite you. And I think that’s where we are now. Cagayan de Oro is slowly but surely becoming home away from Home for us!