Our first day in the Philippines was exciting! We woke to busy, crowded streets. Cars everywhere; honking, turning, pushing their way through traffic. As if drivers were competing for the front of some important line. No one stayed within their lanes. No one obeyed traffic laws. Several times while waiting for a red light the car next to us would decide they weren't going to wait anymore and drive through the red light. It was hilarious.
The streets were full of our favorite fun discovery in the Philippines: Jeepneys. I had read about Jeepneys and was anxious to really see one. They were even more fun than I expected. After the US forced the Japanese out of the Philippines during WWII they left hundreds of military jeeps behind. Resourceful Filipinos turned the jeeps into taxi/buses. They are known for their flamboyant decoration and crowded seating. They have become a ubiquitous symbol of Philippine culture. They are fun, bright and colorful! And they fill the streets of Manila. Jeepneys are supposed to only seat 16 people, but we saw Jeepneys so crammed full that they people looked like sardines; arms hanging out windows, legs falling out the door and even people hanging onto the outside getting a ride.
We met a family down by the wharf for our first photo shoot. They were darling. 4 boys and one beautiful little girl. It is said that one of the best places to meet the people of the Philippines and see their daily life is to go to the market. So to market, to market, to buy a fat pig… we went. But we didn't find very many pigs. What we found was FISH: fat fish, skinny fish, slimy fish, shell fish, dead fish, live fish… so many fish!
And so many people! I always have a hard time with the smells at fish markets and this one proved no different. The smell of fish lying around in a hot, humid market is just not a good smell! But we bought lots of fish and had the restaurant next door cook us our lunch. It was delicious. Although, I have to admit I did not eat the squid.
We also found lots of delicious fruits. Different fruits than what we can have at home. I was excited to find some Durian “King of all tropical fruit” because it is big and delicious! We also ate some dragon fruit: bright pink and sweet. Later, we found some Jack fruit at a little roadside fruit stand. Jack fruit is the largest tree fruit in the world. It didn’t taste great. But the pineapple we got was sweet, juicy and delicious!
It’s interesting to be in an Asian country but feel like I am in South America. Much of the food has a Latin American flare. The people are a beautiful blend of Chinese and Spanish. Roads, businesses, towns and people often have Spanish names. And these people are very warm and easy going like many Latin Americans.
It was a good day to go to market to buy a fat fish, have a delicious lunch, meet 2 wonderful families and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the Philippines.