Lori Safford

Lori Safford

I am the mother of four (now adult) sons: Nick, Zeke, Graham, and Myles. I teach English & Environmental Science at Carrabassett Valley Academy, a ski & snowboard school in the Western Mountains of Maine, USA. I ski, run, knit, garden, do NOT cook, bike, hike--in other words: I LOVE being outdoors!!! I have been inspired my whole life by reading anthropologists Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict, Franz Boas, Claude Levi-Strauss, and Clifford Geertz--to name but a few--and by Annie Dillard's thinking and Mother Theresa's Godliness. I finally am blessed to be able to travel to embrace another culture--to learn & share & be moved. “I measure success in terms of the contributions an individual makes to her fellow human beings.” ? Margaret Mead

Mingling deep within Manila

 Posted by Lori Safford at 12:49 pm  Philippines  Comments Off on Mingling deep within Manila
Jun 302014
 

Today, Monday, June 30th, I needed to go to the Immigration Office (I.O) in Manila to extend my visa. Eden & Leighton assured me that the process would be painless but essential since I would not have another opportunity once we arrive in Romblon. Several of the other volunteers had already extended theirs in their respective countries–I wish I had: LESSON LEARNED!!!  (Take note–DO this BEFORE you come to the Philippines!!) Anyway, armed with my passport, my confirmation of my return flight, enough pesos for a taxi and the required fee for extending the visa, and the resolve that I had, after all, come to the Philippines for new adventures, I headed out the door to hail a taxi–also a first for me!!!

The heaviness of the 11AM air smacked me in the face the minute I stepped out onto the street, but, I was already accustomed to it. I made a pact with myself that I would NOT EVER utter the sentence:”It is soooo hot.” I found the busy Commonwealth Ave. main street and held up my arm–a white van marked TAXI immediately pulled over. I opened the door and said to the smiling driver,”I need to go to the immigration office, by meter, please.” He understood, started the meter, and off we went. Whew–what a ride, and what a tremendously kind driver. He chatted in good enough English that I could catch every fourth word about him being a sailor and how he had traveled to almost every port city in the world. He said the ports in the USA were his favorites because of all the “sparkly lights and beautiful girls.”  Haha!!!

Of course traffic was horrendous–horns blaring, constant jockeying & pushing & shoving with cars & jeepneys & small trucks & bicylcles–even the pedestrians boldly pushed onto the streets. It seems that if you are brave enough to venture onto the road, you absolutely must keep moving at all costs–and use your horn strategically. At one point, we came to a complete stop for several minutes, which frustrated the driver–in a calm, easy-going way, though. He told me we would take a side road–I told him I trusted him completely and that he was in charge. Haha–he chuckled. We discovered that the reason for the traffic congestion was because there was a protest going on–hundreds, maybe thousands of Filipino farmers & supporters were protesting misappropriation of land and, of course, monies, away from local ownership to a  select (and corrupt) few–namely government officials. (I wanted to jump out and join them!!)

We managed, after two full hours, to reach the I.O. which was set within the confines of walled University community and other government buildings. (I NEVER would have found it myself, oh, dear…) I paid the driver–P 500–who thanked me profusely for the tip–and I walked in to have an adventure with Philippine bureaucracy. I tried to remember the steps told me by Eden & Leighton–at first I froze in the wake of all the people milling around–then I saw the Information Desk! Hooray. A kindly uniformed gentleman looked at my papers, listened to my request, and instructed me what to do–the Short Version is I followed all the helpful, concise instructions–given to me on the application and by several extremely helpful officials–and I completed my mission in about 3 hours. I waited in a few lines, something not unfamiliar to me, after all, and I had brought a book to read while I waited for my “approval.” I admit I started to feel a bit nervous contemplating the taxi ride home–or, at least, the attempt to try to hail a taxi–when a very tall and very non-Filinio young woman called my name: “Lori–are you the volunteer from CERV?” I said I was, and she said, “I am Eleanor, and was told by Eden to find you. I am going back to the dorm, too. We can go together.”

Joy, joy, joy!!! For the next few hours, we were best friends–we walked back to her hotel, deep in the city midsts to collect her bag. This walk took over an hour–and was an absolute delight, with Ellie as Perfect Tour Guide. She has been here for over a month, is from Australia, is 18, and knows enough Tagolog to impress all the street vendors we met along the way. As we wove in, around and through the city, I soaked up all the sights & sounds & smells. No camera with me, but I still tried hard to capture the rainbow of colors and tantalizing food odors and orchestra sounds that permeated the air. This was not Maine!!!

By the time we reached her hotel, it was 5:30PM–we found a taxi to take us the very long trek back to the dorm, and finally reached the dorm at 7:30PM, extremely hungry but invigorated once we met up with the rest of the volunteers to share our story of our day and to listen to their stories of their day.

That is what this trip is all about: sharing stories and experiencing new adventures, being flexible, being bold & brave, maintaining a sense of humor, listening to & appreciating others’ way of adapting to change–or not.

Yes, I am so happy to be here, and am eager to head to Romblon tomorrow–by bus, then boat.

 

Another new day in Quezon City

 Posted by Lori Safford at 12:31 pm  Philippines  Comments Off on Another new day in Quezon City
Jun 292014
 

June 29–Number 8, Ricarte Street, Commonwealth Heights, Commonwealth Ave, Quezon City–my new home until July 1. Eden and Leighton warmly greet me and have done everything possible to make me feel at home. The dorm is a adobe-style building on a narrow street lined with all kinds of palm trees and a lovely flowered shrub that I need to look up to identify. The orchestra of bird sounds and dogs barking is constant–much better than any “Canned Music.” I slept soundly, and felt so refreshed–all remnants of weariness have vanished! I enjoy my first cup of Philippine coffee: delicious–sweet & strong. Bless Caffeine!  I am ready to take a stroll out onto the lively streets. Eden and Leighton encouraged me to do so–“Take notice of landmarks so you don’t get lost.” Eden said.  The dorm is in a gated community–I walk out the door and head toward the guards. They greet me with huge smile and wave me through the gates. As I walk, I am overcome with gratitude to all my friends and family who have made this dream come true!!!

When I turn onto the busy street, I hear the sounds of basketballs dribbling–truly familiar! I saunter over to a covered gym where about 30 or more spectators are crowded around a fence, cheering  & clapping wildly. Sure enough–there is a basketball game in progress–the “Sunday Club.” How thrilling to see one of my favorite sports in Philippine action! I watch for several minutes–I clap each time a basket is made, drawing stares from little children. I think I am the only female among the onlookers. What fun!

I continue my journey to and fro, along the broken sidewalk, marveling in all the shops that cluster beside the walkways: hair salons, mini-markets, tricycle repair, electronic repair, barbershops, water stations…I smile at everyone and they all smile back. I discover a walking bridge that arches over a busier thoroughfare–I decide to find my way there so I can take a few photos from higher ground. I walk through an open market area–many, many colorful umbrellas protect all kinds of vendors from the harsh sun rays–even at 9AM, the sun is intense. What an array of paraphernalia & food products to behold: sweet corn, mangoes, bananas, watches, jewelry, dead goat carcasses, earrings, I Phone clear coverings, more sweet corn. I snap several photos–new for me, but I am committed to documenting my Philippine experience in words and pictures.

Well, the next batch of volunteers have arrived, so I must meet them all. More to share later!

First full day in Quezon City

 Posted by Lori Safford at 11:15 am  Philippines  Comments Off on First full day in Quezon City
Jun 292014
 

June 28th and I have arrived from my day and a half trip from Portland, Maine to Manila. The sights & smells & sounds of manila are intoxicating! Thank goodness I did not have to drive–and will never drive–in Manila. Cars and buses and jeepneys and tricycles and pedestrians all jockey for positions in a moving traffic puzzle that weaves through palm tree lined streets. My taxi driver gave me a mini-tour–he was quite pleased to do so, and was exceedingly proud of his homeland. We passed the American Cemetery–thousands of white crosses lined perfectly among sweeping acres of closely cropped green grasses. “Obama spoke there.” The taxi driver beamed.  I leaned forward in my seat and twisted my head from side to side to catch all the sights–we drove over a bridge and there awaited what I recognized as The Philippine Landscape: tree-topped mountains, azure  ocean, colorful roofs, palm-trees. I had arrived!

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