Now that we are genuinely settled into life here in Valencia, Negros Oriental, I thought I would report about our routine. We spent the first couple of months scurrying around and getting what we needed and wanted but the last couple of months we’ve settled in.
A friend recently commented that he was envious of our life. There’s reason for envy and yet every life has routine and ours might be considered sort of boring.
From a retirement standpoint, it’s a joy not to commute. Over the years, that commute had grown to be the worst part of my working life. Now Janet and I have breakfast together. Nothing fancy; I’m a cereal or eggs person, but it’s nice not to be wolfing it down in my cubicle.
I usually take a morning walk. Whatever direction I take, I pass about 10 cows, having their breakfast, assorted goats, chickens, roosters, dogs, etc. Dumaguete’s a city but it’s a provincial city. The view on my walk is fantastic and I love the sense of a non-urban life. OK, I do have to remember that pooper scoopers for cows don’t exist and if they did there would be no laws requiring them here. So I step carefully.
I have an office/shop set up in our home’s third bedroom. On one side’s a workbench I’ve cobbled together. Despite being made only of plywood and 2x4s it’s pretty strong and should allow me to make, finish and work on guitars. On the other side’s the small table where my computer and peripherals sit. In between are my tools and guitar.
I’m getting everything together to start building guitars again and perhaps after the first of the year I’ll be ready. In the meantime I’ve been playing more guitar than I have in years and am enjoying it a lot. For Xmas Janet bought me a digital interface. The quality of recording is a little bit better than the last time I recorded my guitar playing – on a cassette deck! Also got a nice mic, so expect to be spammed with recordings in the near future.
Just as I did when I worked (lol) I spend plenty of my time checking email, surfing the web, and looking at YouTube videos. Interestingly, now that I am here, I watch less and less of my fellow expat’s videos, though I still watch Bud Brown and Ned regularly. One thing I don’t keep track of is the political insanity and general divisiveness back in the US. I wrote a blog post recently that I have yet to publish because it took the uncomfortable position that so many people “back home” are nuts and my stress level is less not being involved with so much of the nuttiness. Of course people are nuts here too, but they still manage to smile and say “good morning,” so it’s hard to get too stressed about it.
We seem to go to the grocery store or public market more often than we did in the US, probably because I was dictatorial in insisting that we did our grocery shopping once a week back there. I could only deal with Fred Meyer’s so often. Here there’s a couple supermarket’s, the Valencia public market, and a mall within easy driving distance. It’s certainly harder to find specialty items here but if you keep your eyes open you will see them (or a reasonable substitute).
And yes we do drive a lot. While I still like the trikes it’s just too convenient to hop in the car; so in that sense we are still good Americans.
Since Xmas is here we spend plenty of time listening to caroling kids. It’s a month long event here and every evening and sometimes during the day they show up outside the gate. Janet made ice candy (like ice pops) out of mango and the kids love those, as well as the few pesos they get. Each small group seemingly has the same routine of songs. It’s like somewhere at the North Pole there’s a Philippines section where every kid is taken (Polar Express?) to learn their set to sing.
As far as eating and drinking, we do plenty of the former and I do some of the latter. We certainly deny ourselves nothing and have had no problem finding enough good food and good restaurants to eat at. There are plenty of good restaurants in Dumaguete and while we haven’t been to them all, we’ve certainly been good customers at some of our faves. I’ve found enough Western food when I really wanted something; there’s a couple of good Italian places, one good Japanese place, a couple nice sandwich shops, a few decent burger places, and a couple of bakeries that are OK. Janet and I have always enjoyed restaurants and here you can really go out as often as we’d like without breaking the budget. We almost never spend more than $10 for dinner for the two of us, including my San Miguel, and often spend much less. BTW, for those interested, with the rare exception of an expensive meal, we’re strictly 20 peso tippers; you do the math. Speaking of San Miguel, I’m now a one beer at dinner kind of guy, which for me is more drinking that I did in the past.
I’ve lost a little weight but with no scale I don’t know how much. 5 pounds maybe? Could it be more? Not sure. It’s certainly nothing record-breaking since as I say I am not denying myself anything.
Now, as far as the budget, and no I’m not going to get into the debate about how much it costs to live in the Philippines. Nor am I dumb enough to publicly state what my income or budget is. What I will say is that we have had no problems so far sticking to our budget. If anything we spend a little less than I anticipated when I made a tentative budget before we arrived. For example, while electricity rates are high in the Philippines my actual bill is about 2/3 of what I paid in the US. Why? Start with no dryer or dishwasher. And of course, no electric car. My water bill in the US was consistently hitting $100/month. Here? Last month’s bill was 23 pesos! That’s less than $.50. And garbage – it’s picked up free in Valencia. Janet and I pay about 600 pesos/month for our cell phone service; in the US we paid over $150/month and for that money had to deal with Centurylink, who six months later I am still fighting with over the final bill. But of course customer service is so much better in the US lol!
Our budget also includes my plan that at least monthly we would go somewhere. Now it doesn’t have to be anywhere fancy. We’ll go to a small hotel for a weekend or travel to an island we haven’t been to or an island we have been to and want to revisit. Or we’ll just take a couple days and go to Janet’s hometown. But the budget includes going somewhere out of Duma once a month. We will be doing just that in a couple days; going to Alcoy for Xmas. And the last week of the month and year we’re scheduled to go snorkeling at Apo Island, a short boat ride from Negros Oriental. In February we have something a bit more ambitious planned – so stay tuned.
OK, I hear you all saying; so while Dave does all these things, what’s Janet doing? She loves gardening and our small lot is getting filled with pots of plants and vegetables and flowers. She’s also done plenty of baking and has even sold some of her famous leech flan. Plus she gets to catch up with her family, which could be considered a full time job. I expect a small business might also be in her future. Once again, stay tuned.
So that’s the basics on our daily life. So far, it’s pretty much as I hoped it would be. Hope you all are having a Happy Holiday Season; we certainly are!