I am a lakwasera. This is a Tagalog term for someone with a great wanderlust - always itching to go out and explore, can't stay at home (of the female variety; the male equivalent is 'lakwasero'). Today I had my Chinese lesson al fresco - my teacher's family went to Tagaytay, so I went along.
It turns out that my teacher and I are actually related by marriage - she and my mom are something like third cousins (discovered during a conversation about our extended families). Chua laoshi was the last Chinese-Filipino I'd met during my entire time here who I didn't think I was connected to in some way. I give up. We're either related to or classmates of (or related to classmates or classmates of relations of or...) everyone in the Fil-Chi community, or so it seems. I gave up trying to keep track of who was who long ago, because if I met the daughter of the niece of the second wife of the father of my paternal grandfather for 2 minutes when I was in 1st grade, I will probably not remember.
Anyway. Today I saw pineapple bushes for the first time. We bought bits of tree trunk from roadside stands (with young coconuts and bananas attached), I mangled the national language of the People's Republic of China, the view was gorgeous, the air much better than Manila except for when we passed the piles of burning garbage - common practice here, alas; one pile was the size of my parents' front lawn and sent a thick gray plume into the air that we could see for kilometers afterwards.
Another new food was also introduced: fish crackers, which are simply small fish about 8cm long that have been battered and fried. No gutting. You just dip them in vinegar and eat, eyeballs and guts and bones and all, with the feathery bones making a calcium-rich crunching sound between your teeth. ("Are you going to eat that?" one of my distant aunts said, smiling at my extended close scrutiny of the food item. "Yeah - I'm just trying to get over the fact that it looks like a fish," I said.) It's pretty tasty, but I'm not too fond of the bones.
One of the nieces of my teacher, a woman twice my age who's a professor of dentistry in one of the main area colleges, pointed out a(nother) field of goats as we drove by. "I know there are also animals called sheep that are similar," she said, "but I don't know what they are." "A sheep," I explained, "looks like a goat with an afro."
We had a dinner of homemade noodles in Chinatown. This video (taken with permission from the restaurant's owner) is how they make them. It's also a nice example of powers of two, for the younger folks following along. The noodles were delicious.