COMMUTING IN CABIAO
I never thought I'd say the words "Mum I'll have to call you back, I'm about to catch carabao to work."
A carabao is a type of water buffalo that is used by farmers in the Philippines. It was also my transport to work yesterday.
My team had decided to walk through the rice fields to our next barangay. Soaking ourselves in the 9am sunshine and taking in the breathtaking views, we were pleasantly surprised when two carabao carts offered us a hitch hike. Bizarrely, the rice fields had been the only place I'd managed to find a phone signal and so I had to abruptly end my call home in order to 'jump on board' the water buffalo!
The transport situation is still pretty exciting for me! If it's not a carabao, then I'm catching a tricycle or a jeepney to work. My counterpart finds my child-like enthusiasm rather amusing because the jeepney is just the Filipino equivalent of the double-decker bus and the tricycle is on par with London's black cab. But still. I've never had this much fun riding around London (possibly because there are a lot more health safety requirements in the UK!) Although a tricycle is meant to take two people, we have managed to squeeze four of us and a puppy inside- albeit with some arms and legs hanging out the carriage. The jeepney is a similar story, with passengers often hanging off the back doors during rush hour. Similar to a 5pm journey on the London underground, you sit opposite each other and sometimes on top of one another, but the big difference is that it's not socially awkward to make eye contact with your fellow passengers. In fact, my past few journeys have turned into a bit of a social! But this might just be because I am "white and interesting"- to use the words of Sophia.
However, on a day-to-day basis I mostly commute around Cabiao by walking. My walk from my host-home into town is about 1.5km, which is not walking distance according to my host-family. But I love a walk- to wake up in the morning and to wind down at the end of the day. And so does Sophia. So in spite of Tatay Teddy's playful cries of "you are going to WALK!?! All the way to town!?!!" Sophia and I ditch the tricycle in favour of our feet.
And in this climate a 15 minute walk works up a sweat. So I tell myself that I am simultaneously combating the commute and the excess rice calories.