I am exhausted. If it's not work, it's leisure. Who knew relaxing could be so strenuous?! Work hard, play hard - right? That's certainly been the theme of the last two days, and has proved to be interesting.
Yesterday completed our training of the team here in the Philippines. Everyone got a little bit of hands on, and that seemed to have some very positive results - e.g.: lots of questions. This was certainly helpful, and will help us re balance our future training. Our other tactic that we are attempting to employ to create a cohesive team that of team-building, and where better to go than to LaserXtreme! (A laser tag place located at Market! Market!)
With my brand new shirt in toe, we set out to Market! Market! a whole 45 minutes before we had to get there. Total travel distance: 5.5km. Not too far, right? Well, maybe if you're in Nashville or some other city where the traffic isn't bad. Here - it's horrible. Cars are everywhere - nobody gives what you would assume is right-of-way, signs and lights are all but ignored. It's chaos. I'm trying to collect some good video of driving in Manila, so stay tuned.
We arrived at the Lazer Tag place, with only minutes to spare. We thought that we might get to leverage what is known as the 'Philippine Grace Period' (a period of time +15 minutes from the scheduled time where lateness is forgiven). However, the Lazer Tag runs a tight ship, and insisted that we start our game on time. First game only had 7 people. That's okay - was able to scope out the path of the game and whatnot. Rest of the crew arrived for the second game, and this turned out to be plenty of fun. I can say that I was solely responsible for the destruction of at least two of the pieces of painted plywood that were put up - mostly because in an attempt to avoid laser fire, I jumped with all of my body weight and broke stuff.
I should have listened to the advice of the company - they advised that I bring a separate shirt for after gameplay. Of course, I didn't listen, and sweat like a pig. Bleh.
The rest of the evening went okay, with some folks heading home or to their normal Friday night activities. A few of the folks stayed behind and headed over to a Mexican joint. Suffice it to say, I learned a few important things. Unlimited Margaritas are only PHP300 - don't take too much advantage of this. I'm glad that Manila has plenty of cabs, but the unlimited part sneaks up on you. Gotta watch it.
I got home around 11:30 last night, which was a bad thing. Not only did I have unlimited margaritas in my system, I had signed up for a mountain hike up Mt. Pinatubo the next day. And it gets better - the pick up point was 2.5 hours away at 6AM, which meant that I had to be up at 3:00 in order to catch a ride at 3:30 to the pickup point. Great.
Sleep was not good that night. Leaving it at that.
For those of you who remember you history, Mt. Pinatubo had a major eruption in 1991 - spewing ash all over Luzon - completely burying entire villages, covering two military bases (Clark AFB and Subic Bay) in a barrage of ash. Over 800 people died in the aftermath from being covered in ash in areas where families did not evacuate and roofs collapsed in on people. While not the primary driver, the eruption played a role in the pull-out of the US Military from the Philippines later that year. To make matters worse, the next day also had torrential rainfalls (given it was the monsoon season, and a typhoon swept through). The mixture of rain and ash caused it to rain mud, as several locals mentioned.
The hike itself would have been a climb to the top, a boat ride in the crater that contains a copious amount of water, and 4x4 jeep rides along the mountain itself. Fun stuff!
Alarm goes off at 3:00AM, and I reluctantly wake up, start getting dressed, and getting ready to go. Somewhere between putting on my socks and putting on my shoes, I passed out. (less from any residual margaritas and more from sleep deprivation). At about 3:45, I get a phone call that wakes me up asking me where I am. I'm floored - not only am I late, but somehow I passed out in a sitting position for almost 45 minutes.
Roll into the car, pick up my co-worker, and then sleep. Sleep all the way to the pickup point. This is not a comfortable thing to do in a car designed for Asians - unless you are smaller than I am (height, not necessary girth), then most cars here are not designed for you. Sad, but true.
Arrived at the pickup point at 6:00AM, and realized that we had not prepared in any way for this hike up to Mt. Pinatubo. We should have had water - nope. We should have had sunblock - nope. We should have had - walking sticks! Novel concept. However, we just showed up thinking we could literally conquer the mountain.
It's a good thing that when we arrived, the tour guide was not there. A phone call indicated that the tour had been canceled. Typically, I would have been really pissed. I mean, PHP 4200, a ride out 2.5 hours to the site to have to turn back around 2.5 hours. Maybe it was because I was not prepared. Maybe it was because I was exhausted. However, my response was basically Ayos, Pare (Good/Okay, Friend).
I find myself becoming less irritated with some things that I would typically become irritated with. This is one quality that I often reflect on sadly from my time in Guam - I've become so irritable with the little things that I'm just a bundle of nerves. However, I'm re balancing - and the laid back culture is certainly helping with that. Sure, I was disappointed that I didn't get a phone call. I could have slept in. However, what can you do? I mean, really? Things happen. What was the reason, you ask? Typhoon!
A typhoon is coming - I'll write more about that tomorrow. For now, suffice it to say the reason was appropriate. Went back home, slept for until 12:30, woke up, went to watch a movie, and then met up with my coworker for dinner, drinks/pool, and cigars. In all, a good recovery to what would otherwise have been a crappy day.
The only downside is that it appears that I did something to my knee during LaserXtreme... it now hurts really bad, and it is difficult to move my right leg. Let's see how that pans out over the next day.
Finally, I am pleased to know that I am not forgotten back at the home office. I know I've only been gone for three weeks, but I'm really conscious of the 'out of sight/out of mind' phenomenon. When I received an email today from one of my friends, I was significantly overjoyed.
Turns out, I can be in multiple places at multiple times - I can still play kickball even halfway across the globe. The office had a kickball tournament that I was unable to attend, yet here I am.