Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Another Round of Calvinball

Our long-term visas are complete but there is an ID card (i-card) that we need to obtain yet. So after the team left last Thursday morning, we too, left for Baguio. Our hope was to get to the immigration office before they closed in case we could not complete the process in the same day. But along the way, a brake pad disintegrated as we came up on a curve/cliff. Fortunately, Steve was able to make the turn and bring the van safely to a stop. Brakes certainly are essential for travel along these narrow mountain roads!

We were able to hitch a ride back into Abatan, the nearest village. It is the half-way point between Baguio and Bontoc. The word abatan means meeting place. Fortunately it is large enough to have an auto parts store where we could buy new brake pads. After purchasing the parts, we hitched another ride back to the van where Lisa, the girls, and Mindel were all waiting. Steve replaced the pads while I tried to just block the wind so he could do it without shivering.

So we made it into Baguio safely, but much too late to go to immigration.

We stayed with some of our CDTS staff, Harry and Dee. It was good to spend some time catching up with them as well as learning more about their years of experience ministering in this area with YWAM.

In the morning, we went to immigration. But the Calvinball bounced against us. The fees were 7 times more than we were told before and we needed a document we had left in Bontoc. (How nice it would be to be able to find a location with all of the information we need!) One thing we have learned time and time again is whatever amount of pesos you think you may need to cover any governmental fees, you should plan on having many times that and maybe just maybe you might have enough. Even though we knew we wouldn't be able to complete the application process for the I-card, we thought that after talking to the kind lady behind the counter we would be able to do everything that needed all of our presence. The revised plan was to go ahead and complete the 12 or so forms, let them take our fingerprints and our photos and then later have Thomas return with the other form and the pesos. So the girls waited once again while the two of us went to work on the forms and we all got fingerprinted. (Although the lady was not too particular on how clear the prints were and most were just black smudges.) Anyway, after being there more than an hour we are told she can not take our photos without the one paper we left in Bontoc. Yippee!!! the six of us get to make the six or more hour trip again soon!!!

So the next thing on the agenda was to make some purchases that we cannot in Bontoc. One of the most exciting was an oven! We gave it a good try with the toaster oven, but it just could not handle the demands of a family of 6. It is nice to be able to add some variety to our diet and cook some more familiar foods, like pizza with the precious cheese we purchased.

It was funny though. When I purchased the stove, some of the guys from the store brought it to the entrance for me. There was a miscommunication, so they brought it to a different door, than I had expected. When I found it, one of the guys was standing on the sidewalk with it. The van was very close and I started to grab the stove so I could help carry it to the van. He insisted that I not worry about it, but that he and his partner would get it. Before his partner came down the steps, Steve walked up and started to grab it. The store clerk never said a word of protest and he and Steve carried it to the van. Is it just the kindness to foreigners or do I look that inept? I may not be an auto mechanic, but I thought I could carry a box...Hmmm?

Lisa and the girls were also able to buy some clothes. In the few months we have been here, Adriana and Alexie have really grown. Because they are taller than even most of the men, it is difficult to find clothes for them in Bontoc. Also, there was the need for warmer clothes due to my dear husband's minimilist packing philosophy so we could stop freezing our flip-flops off. But the search for fleeces involved some challenges as well. First, the stores did not have much to chose from. Secondly, the ones we did find were about P3000. At about P47 to the dollar, those were way too cost prohibitive. So after looking through many many stores in the four or more floors of the SM mall, we still didn't have much to keep us warm. Saturday morning, a friend took me to her favorite used clothes shops. Finally, success. I was able to get several fleeces and long sleeve shirts at a much better price, at most P200/each, some as low as P80.

It was good to get home Saturday night. It had been a busy week. I was looking forward to sleeping in my own bed and spending time at home with my family.

Tom and Lisa

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