Would You Go There Too?

Adventure travelers, thrill seekers, and risk takers of all persuasions, suppose I ask you, “What do you do for a cheap thrill?”

Would you travel to a disturbed part of a third world country? Or how about this: go spend two weeks out in the jungle in Mindanao, the southernmost, “troubled” island of the Philippines, living amongst the “natives”?

I did!

Okay, I admit, it wasn’t as dramatic as all that sounds. First of all, when I went to Mindanao, (two years ago), there wasn’t any fighting going on. Besides, Mindanao is a BIG island, and despite what some people say, including, tragically, many Filipinos from Manila, most of the island is a reasonably safe place to visit. You just have to avoid the “hot spots”, and understand that if you are an American or European, you will stick out like a sore thumb, and be perceived as being as rich as a Saudi Prince visiting any economically depressed area in the United States. (I suppose these days that’s any place outside of Washington D.C.?) Behave, keep your cool, and you’ll be fine.

Also, these two weeks were mostly spent at my wife’s parent’s house. Yeah, they don’t have air-conditioning, but they do have enough electricity to power a refrigerator and a fan. There’s not much running water, and the toilet is this nasty thing called a “C.R.”. (For the masochistic, I added some notes about this monstrosity to the bottom of this article.)

Oh, but the electricity went out for few nights, didn’t it? Did you have to “rough it” then?

Well, uh …. no. After one VERY hot night with little sleep, I threw a bit of a hissy fit and insisted that we spend the next two nights at a hotel in Ozamis, which was the big town about two hours away. So much for “roughing it.”

But I still enjoy asking, whenever I meet a Filipino from Manila, “Have you ever been to Mindanao?” When they reply “NO!” with a look of horror on their face, I tell them I have been there twice, even staying for two weeks the second time.

I guess this would be the equivalent of the Saudi Prince telling me what a wonderful time he had visiting downtown Detroit!

Some further notes about the C.R., (“Comfort Room”), for inquiring minds. Imagine an outdoor latrine. The bottom half of a porcelain toilet has been placed over the hole, so if you try to sit, you have to be careful. (It’s missing the seat!) The “walls” of the C.R., (and here the word “walls” is used loosely), consist of bits of cardboard and old burlap sacks. You may, if you wish, carry on conversations with passersby as you squat above the dirt floor, trying not to bang your head on the piece of tin that functions as a roof, and which is so FoKing low it would inconvenience a midget. If you and they position yourselves properly, you may even make eye contact through one of the many gaps in the “walls”.

Imagine all this joy, then add to it the immense pleasure of doing all this while baking in the angry Philippine midday sun.


This article was originally posted in rough draft form on Bubblews, then spiffed up a bit and posted on FullofKnowledge.