So, moving to a new country is all about adjustments. I've had quite a few adjustments since I moved here. I thought I'd share a few thoughts about them.
#1: Heat and humidity. I've been a western U.S. girl all my life. That means I haven't had to deal with humidity . . . ever! Even in Mexico, we lived in a high desert plain area and so I didn't deal with much heat or humidity. The Philippines is very different. :-) We have temperatures in the high 80's with about 90% humidity. That doesn't seem all that hot until you are in it. The thing is, I don't usually feel hot (burning, etc) but I feel sweaty. I'm talking "sweat standing on my face and soaking my clothes" sweaty. We have some fans in our house which help so much. When the air blows on me, it dries the sweat a bit and cools me a bit. The problem is that by the end of the day, I feel sticky and my skin all tastes salty. Not a pleasant sensation. I have a shower EVERY night before bed because I feel so nasty.
I've also discovered that heat and humidity make me cranky. :-) I am usually pretty easy going but it's been so much harder since I got here. Since I'm homeschooling everyday, it's stretching me a bit. Today at the general conference broadcast, we spoke to an elder from Boise. He has been here for about a year. He told me some things that helped. First he said that this is the hottest time of the year. It's "summer" here and so we have our highest temps right now. In a few months it will moderate quite a bit. (probably 4 or 5 degrees) :-) He got here about this time of year too and nearly melted. He also says that you acclimate. The heat doesn't get to you so much. He says that now when he sits through a temple session for a couple of hours he actually gets COLD in the air conditioned room. So, maybe I just need to be patient.
#2: Vanity. None of my beauty equipment work with the electricity here (blow dryer, curling iron) I could possibly buy some here but I haven't seen them yet and I can't imagine purposely blowing hot air on myself. :-) So my hair is just au natural. And since it's so hot, I can't stand it on my neck so it's usually in a ponytail or bun and my bangs and drooping right in my face. It's not a great look. Plus, with all the sweating, my makeup just sweats off too so i don't wear makeup. It's kind of shocking to see myself in the mirror. This old, frumpy, red-faced lady looks back at me. I've decided I've just got to let it go and not worry about it. But when I'm cranky anyway (see #1) sometimes it doesn't help.
While I'm on the topic of beauty, I need to rant a minute. The Filipino people have beautiful brown skin and silky black hair. They really are lovely. But many Filipino women try to dye their hair red. It's so sad! Also, everyone wants to be lighter. In all the stores and on billboards I see "whitening cream" or "whitening treatments". It just makes me shake my head. Here are all these Americans baking themselves in the sun or tanning booths or applying "bronzers" to get brown and all these Filipinos applying stuff to make themselves white. Why can't we just love ourselves for ourselves. Ok, I need to reread my paragraph above after saying this. We are beautiful because of who we are, not because of the color of our skin, our makeup, our hairstyles, or hair colors.
#3: Poverty / Wealth. The Philippines are very interesting in this regard. In the U.S., we generally try to separate our poor from our rich. Then we can hide away the uncomfortable reminders that people are poor. Here in the Philippines it is all mixed. You have these luxury hotels right next to little one room houses made of tin roofing. There is a serious problem with garbage here. It's . . . unsettling. It feels very foreign. I'm starting to adjust now and I can see the pretty houseplants in front of the little tin houses or the beautiful smiles of the children as they follow me down the road. I don't see the garbage as much and I see the lovely bougainvillea blooming in the lush green vacant lots. I can see past the poverty and garbage that shocked me so much at first.
When we looked for houses, we had an opportunity for a nice, large house that was basically right in the middle of life here. We decided against it. It also didn't lend itself well to the office but mostly it just felt . . . uncomfortable. So we found a house in a subdivision. That means we have a guard that controls who can enter and who patrols once an hour to keep things safe. All the houses are beautiful and well-kept. I feel a little conflicted about that. Am I just retreating to my American mindset and trying to hide it from my eyes? I do know I feel much more comfortable and safe here. Sigh. I don't know.
#4: Food. I was prepared for different food. After all, we lived in Mexico. I learned how to shop and cook there. But this is MORE different. :-) We definitely aren't in Kansas anymore, Toto! It's so challenging to find food that I recognize and know how to cook. However, there is an entire aisle of tuna! You can get hot and spicy tuna, tuna in oil, tuna in brine, whole tuna fillets, corned tuna, etc. It's amazing. There is also a whole aisle of dried fish that I could get. (plus the whole case of fresh fish) And speaking of cuts of meat. . . holy smoke. If it's on an animal, I could probably buy it from my grocery store! :-)
The missionaries said that there is a store in Cebu called S&R. It's basically a Costco. It's where all the office couples and senior missionaries shop. I'm figuring it out a bit but I may have to go check it out S&R pretty soon.
I'm sure I will keep finding new adjustments the longer I live here. What an adventure!