3.06am: Contrary to popular belief, roosters have no concept of time and crow at any point during a 24 hour time period, like 3.06am.
5.55am: Get out of bed and start saluting the sun and various other postures. Focus on the outlook of the mangroves (swamp) from my lounge room and my breathing, trying to drown out the *shhfftt sshhfft shhft* of neighbours sweeping the dirt road outside.
7.30am: Create my new staple breakfast of apple, cinnamon and black rice, a good substitute for cereal when you live without a refrigerator (walang ref). Have coffee (3in1 powder) in hammock and contemplate life then indulge in the strangely therapeutic chore of hand washing.
8.30am: Open front door to have a snake enter my kitchen, txt my landlord who comes over with her machete but I managed to sweep the bastard away *shhfftttt*.
9.15am: Arrive at work where the girls gave my hair a hot wax treatment (leave-in conditioner) and discuss my hair loss in hushed tones so no one will hear (handfuls are coming out – I””m a little worried too! It’s probably a reaction to stress/extreme heat).
10.15am: Still have power (small miracles!) and writing report on recent branding and vision workshops in Guiuan and Catarman. Skype Tim, a fellow AYAD, and bemoan the general state of my NGO’s financial situation, the government here and lack of tall men.
12.09am: “Miss Jenny, let’s eat.” is said by the house-boy for the third time (he is the cook, cleaner, and odd jobs kid). I seem to mystify the staff by not dropping everything, stop typing mid-sentence to eat. Fried little fishes, white rice and pancit (noodles): in a place where people often go without food, I eat everything that’s put in front of me (except the dried fish – the smell alone turns my stomach).
4.14pm: A little spooked that I’ve had power all day – no brown-outs! I’ve had an almost Australian level of productivity at the office today. Staff comment I’ve been working too hard and need to relax more.
6.15pm: Leave the office; the girls next door say what they say every day “Where are you going? I think you are beautiful,” and then I do the rounds of the shops around the campus, my banana-lady, my vegetable peeps. And lastly the local sari sari store (corner store) where I’m served by a girl no older than 8 (feels so wrong to buy beer from a child).
6.45pm: Open the door gingerly, walang snake and meron power still so the neighbourhood gets a blast of Parliament while I cook and Radiohead while I have my cold bucket shower and facemask.
9.30pm: In bed (yes, you read right – 9.30pm in bed!) with Catch 22.