The Space Between…

As I know I’ve mentioned already, I had a really busy summer.  We were on the road a LOT.  When we finally settled in our Greek home for a month it was really good to be back home with my stuff – my furniture, my kitchen — and see good friends and stay in one place that felt so comfortable and familiar.  But as our stay neared the end, part of me was ready to go back home to Manila and move on with our lives.  Isn’t that  what vacations are all about?  A much needed break from the usual grind, followed by a recognition that we all need routine in our lives.  I loved my time there and was sad to leave, but I was also ready to go back to work.

But we returned to the devastating floods that consumed 60-80% of this city, and rain and rain and more rain.  Of course its the rainy season here, “wet” is expected, but there’s rain and then there’s rain….  I was not expecting two continual weeks of deluge.  And while I sat in my apartment  feeling trapped, I knew that my problems were nothing compared to the suffering of others just a few streets away.  And yet the selfish feeling of boredom and discontent set in and coloured my view of the world.

The last two weeks since I’ve been back feels like two months, and I’ve been having trouble seeing the fun of being here in Manila.  Instead I’ve been seeing all the annoyances:  the traffic, the lack of open space, the difficulty of just going for a walk, wanting to just be able to jump in my car and go…..  Coupled with my sense of missing Greece and a rotten week at work, this has to be my low in almost two years of living here.  Blogging about these annoyances always seems petty in retrospect, and I usually avoid it.  But it creates a space in my blogging diary until the next event or interesting thing comes along, which perpetuates the image that some have, I’m sure, that life is one long beach trip or adventure.  Right now, ignoring that space — all the time — feels sort of dishonest.  No-one needs to hear about all my bad petty days, even if I can find the talent to write about them with sufficient humour or insight.  But a concession to add a little balance seems called for … so here it is:  Manila sucks right now!

A return to our usual programming follows shortly……

Update on the Flooding

For those asking for news, updates and information on the severe flooding in Manila, here’s a post to update everyone.  We’re ok!  The area that we live in (The Fort) seems to be holding up well as it has a modern drainage system.  The city has had about 30 inches of rain in the last 48 hours.  This is on top of heavy rains, tropical storms and high tides which have battered the city for the last two weeks.  The ground is saturated, rivers are overflowing and the inadequate drainage systems cannot even begin to cope.
Latham and I ventured out yesterday to Market Market to get some food.  Although we got very wet (despite the raingear and umbrella) it wasn’t too bad on the streets.  We did see one or two drain covers burst open from the water pressure as the drain was full.  So I think that it has the potential to flood here if it rained long enough.  Its actually just drizzling now, although there are still heavy rain clouds on the horizon over Makati….not sure what direction they are heading.  Here’s a recent video of Makati flooding:  Makati is the main business district and is considered an affluent area.  Many embassy homes are located here, most of them in apartments.  I haven’t heard from anyone housed in the villages, so I don’t know how houses are faring.
The coastal area where the Embassy is located is worse.  The high tide comes in and adds massively to the flood levels.  Robert says the flooding has been worse than the hurricane last September.  I can’t find any pictures online from the last couple of days, but to show how the problem compounded, here’s an article from Aug 2 that shows the state of things before the most recent set of heavy rains hit:
Elsewhere it is much worse.  The northern part of the city, Quezon City, has the Mesa Dam which is the city’s main source of drinking water.  The reservoir is right next to the largest university campus.  All that area is seriously flooded and is now creating concerns for contaminated water.  Also in the southern area of the city, Las Pinas, it is really bad with flooding levels up to the second floor.  Our helper lives down there and she had cell phone reception at one point, texting me that they had moved up to the second floor of their home to avoid the water.
So for us the weather is just boring and a nuisance but the threat to lives and property elsewhere is very real.  Hopefully rains will die down today as forecasted.  Its going to take a long time for this city to dry out.