late-ish night ponderings of a million things i’ve been meaning to tell you all…

we’ve had some interesting weather over here…i guess the vast majority of the world’s population could start their very own post with that sentence, but the fact remains that it has been…well – in a word, wet.

this is actually supposed to be dry season.  funny – when i was here @# years ago, there was el nino, so the sky filled up with heaving gray clouds that refused to burst, and instead the temperature crept up quickly, not to be left behind by the rising humidity, and sweat dripped from every brow – pinoy and foreigner alike.  this year i’ve been told it’s la nina, so the lanzones – a delicious little fruit from the nearby island camiguin – which should have been out of season by november were available much longer…and it’s been kind of cold some days…or some parts of some days, anyways.  bear in mind – this is the philippines, and we’re not in the mountains or anything.  lots of average people here use the expression ‘climate change’ with an air of normalcy you wouldn’t hear in the tone of the most ardent environmental activists of the u.s…in countries like bangladesh, indonesia, and the philippines, climate change never had the chance to be a potential threat – just went straight to unwelcome house guest some time ago.  at any rate, the afternoon rains which should have stopped several weeks ago keep coming…mindanao has had lots of flooding, and some deaths…this is pretty common since the hills and mountains on the island have sought-after timber and have been ruthlessly logged by foreign timber companies, which leads to landslides and flooding whenever it rains.  but the people rebuild and rebuild again…not a lot of choice in the matter.

one of the things i love about being in different places are the different sounds at night.  in california, depending on where i lived, it was the steady rhythm of the traffic on the road, or the crashing of the waves in my beloved pacific…occasionally there was the questionable blast – bangbangbang! – as we lie awake in bed hoping it was an old junker backfiring.  in the philippines, the sounds at night are so plentiful, i don’t know where to start!  there are the insects, same as anywhere…crickets mostly.  where we are now, there’s no noise from traffic, which is good.  but i think there are probably about 8 roosters living on our block – 6 of which are left to roam about as they please – and here’s the thing about roosters:  whoever made up that myth about roosters crowing at the crack of dawn is a FILTHY LIAR because they crow so much it just so happens that they often hit it at the crack of dawn, too.  i have decided that in human, a rooster’s crow is roughly translated as this:  “i am a rooster!  i am a rooster!”  repeat.

there are lots of dogs here, too…most of the owners keep them in cages, which is, of course, really hard for a vegan american to cope with, but then i know i’ve got cultural blinders on.  be that as it may, it remains perfectly obvious to me that if you put a dog in a cage, s/he will bark.  more than usual.  particularly at night.  so we generally get this chorus of dogs barking (chris would want me to point out that it’s mostly the small dogs)…i nearly went out to chastise the owners last night, but they all mysteriously stopped barking just as i was about to get dressed.  lucky for their owners, i say.

then we’ve got tokos.  a disclaimer here – in my piece de resistance, “Ode to the House Lizard“, i added a little ‘toko!’ under the picture taken in a place we were staying…for those of you not bored out of your tits by this point of my current post, an explanation:  a toko is not a house lizard.  they sometimes do come into people’s houses, but generally speaking, people are not thrilled about this.  house lizards, you see, are about 1-4 inches in length, and really stinking cute.  they make this sound that reminds me of the sound one makes by clicking with the side of the tongue, but imagine that with a bit of music to it.  they eat most of they yucky bugs that people tend to not want around, and are scared out of their little skins by the sight of a big, bad, scary human, scurrying away when they know they’ve been spotted.  a toko, conversely, is much larger.  for the record, i’m stealing this image from the interweb (thanks john carlo):

i’ve never actually seen one of these guys…when i was here before, the boys filled my puny brain with old wives’ tales of their sticky feet sticking to you and ripping your skin off when you tried to remove them…truth is, they’re harmless (even if they do have really sticky feet), but from what i hear, they’re not really bothered about humans coming within their vicinity.  in fact, i’ve heard you can bang a broom handle right next to them for ages before they finally just get annoyed with all the noise you’re making and maybe scuttle off somewhere…you hope.  but at night, they fill the air with the most wonderful sound i’ve ever heard…it’s all you can do to keep from smiling…TO-kooooh…TO-koooooh…you can hear it for yourself on the wikipedia page.

since we moved in here, for the most part, these are the only sounds i’ve heard…until a few days ago.  the afternoon rains had gotten pretty rough, and a couple of days it just poured all day.  getting ready for bed, i asked chris, “do you hear that, babe?”  now, chris’ hearing isn’t as good as mine, but he could hear it after a while.  it was the strangest sound…like cows, but like there were hundreds of them…and so mechanical.  i am not lying to you when i say that i pondered the sinister happenings in the house of some crazed professor who had created robot cows for no other reason than to keep me awake! but i quickly put this admittedly slim possibility out of my head and found sleep.  next night it was the same!  i sat near to the window and thought with all my might:  what could it possibly be??? alas, all my life experience was no match for the robot-cow noise coming from somewhere in the distance – that just made it all the weirder…it really seemed to be in surround sound…

then, the other day, as i made my way to our local sari-sari store (tangent warning:  a sari-sari store is a little shop, often run out of the front-facing window of someone’s house, where they sell beer, cigarettes, soft drinks, and sulit, or little tiny individually packaged snacks, shampoo, laundry detergent, etc.  my colleague allan’s family lives in the nearby island cebu.  i asked him one day if his wife also works, to which he informed that she runs a sometimes-sometimes store.  this was very funny for me – he said, “if there’s stock, she’s open; if there’s not, she’s closed!”  sometimes-sometimes!  hahahaha!) the noise just kept getting louder…and louder…and as i approached the window, i asked the lady of the house, “what is that noise?”

“bullfrogs,” she replied.

OF COURSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  they sound like a million little tiny robot cows!  ERGO BULLfrogs!  that’s why there’s a bull in their name!  oh the things i learn in this life filled with wonderful surprises!!!  which brings us back to the beginning of the story (you thought this was so disjointed, didn’t you?)…it’s the rain, of course, which gets the bullfrogs singing!

right.  so i think that’s where this little journey we’ve taken has got to end.  it’s past midnight and chris is meant to be up before 5:00 am tomorrow…sucks to be him.  but i’ve asked him to wake me before he leaves, so…sucks to be me.  i hope you’ve enjoyed my ramblings…if you made it this far…g’night.

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3 thoughts on “late-ish night ponderings of a million things i’ve been meaning to tell you all…

  1. Mom says:

    If you had stayed through spring and summer in our little wonderland of central Texas you would have been able to recognize the sound of bullfrogs. The Texans love to eat their legs! YUK! We will see how many we might have left as our Giant Blue Heron, I think, has been feeding on them all this fall and winter.

    Love you, MOM

  2. Shoshana Levin says:

    Tokos are harmless you say? Look at what it said on that wikipedia link you left: “The Tokay is also considered the “pitbull” of the Gecko world due to the fact that when they bite, they often won’t let go for a few minutes and rarely up to an hour or more, and generally difficult to remove without causing harm to the Gecko.” Harmless…….

    • ann says:

      ahem. do you remember sketcher? and do you remember when, after exposure to your tawdry female bearded dragon’s scent he went loco ballistic on my ass? and BIT me??? and didn’t let go for an hour or so??? until i had to call the pet shop to find out that this was normal for iguanas??? oh, and that it was your afore-mentioned floozy of a bearded dragon that sparked the behavior in the first place? iguanas are considered more or less harmless (at least when they’re small). ergo, so are tokos!

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