Looking for an apartment. How hard can it be, right? No we don’t have a vehicle to take us and we still haven’t figured out the jeepney schedules and routes. So we walk. Everywhere. All day. I think I’m averaging about 10 — 12 miles a day now. This week has been non-stop. I’ve contacted tons of “possibilities,” and we’ve viewed about 10 — 15 of them so far. We’ve scoured the AirBnB’s and even had someone local beg on our behalf for better rates than what the owners want to offer when they see two “walking dollar signs” from the USA. All pretty much to no avail.
We have had some pretty interesting “viewings.” At one place, we looked at about 4 or 5 units. The entries to the units, the corridors, were dark; almost foreboding – actually a little scary. The furnished studios were filled with old, worn furniture. But one of them . . . I can’t even process in my mind how the agent decided to show it. As we walked in, the smell was the first thing I noticed. Urine. And then the rat poop. Everywhere. On the bed. On the counters. All over the floor and on all the furniture. Curtains threadbare and torn. The agent’s comment? “Oh don’t worry, we’ll get this all cleaned up before you move in.” Are you kidding?
Then last night we went to a building we’d been referred to by a friend here. He talked of how he and his wife lived at this building for 3 years after first arriving in Davao in 2008. Lynn, the owner was wonderful and gracious, but a bit reticent. Her available room was also a studio with no kitchen (oh yeah, the kitchen was a common kitchen OUTSIDE on the patio). But not just a studio . . . this room had a queen bed, and 2 bunk beds! A studio set up to sleep 6! No storage space; in fact, there was barely enough space to walk around the bed and bunks, let alone try to find anywhere to store clothes, etc.
The grand finale was our visit with “Tita.” Walking back to our house from Lynn’s place we noticed a sign advertising an apartment for rent. We called, standing in front of the building and heard the phone ringing inside through the open screen door. Answering in pretty broken English, the lady invited us to come inside and talk with her. Going through the front screen door, I noticed another screen door immediately to my left, and inside the room, Tita was sitting on the couch facing the door. Opening the 2nd screen door, we had to step over a dark yellow puddle on the floor. Yes. Dog pee. “Lucky” was all over us (and in a second you’ll know the extent of this!), his feet still damp from running through the multiple puddles on the tile floor.
I’m not sure I can adequately describe this place – and this “event.” When Tita tried to have him taken out by some young boy, Lucky tried to bite him, glaring at the boy while sitting on the couch near Tita! Tita is now yelling (in Cebuano) at both the boy and Lucky. Sherry and I had – at Tita’s insistence – sat in a couple plastic chairs near the couch (and another puddle on the floor). The boy couldn’t corral Lucky and the dog seemed fascinated by my legs, which he began humping. Trying to be nonchalant, I subtly kicked Lucky away. No dice. He kept coming back for more. Meanwhile, Sherry was trying to engage Tita in conversation, but kept getting thwarted by “humper,” and Tita’s constant yelling at the dog and the boy. Finally, after several minutes of Lucky humping, Rick kicking, and Tita yelling, the boy got a rope around Lucky’s neck and pulled him out to the next room.
By this time, Tita was really getting wound up. Never mentioned the dog; never mentioned the puddles of pee – or the poop pile sitting in plain view in the adjoining kitchen. She was so excited we were there and started telling us about the apartment that was coming available: “It is so wonderful, it’s occupied right now but I can show it to you – and to one of the boys, “Show them the apartment!” She went on to tell us that it was really beautiful “with all my stuff and my clothes and my furniture . . .” We told her we’d call her . . . Couldn’t wait to get outta there! Felt “lucky” to get as far away as quickly as we could!
Oh the adventure of living in another culture!