Saturday, June 17, 2006

So I just finished a week-long training with Filipino SCALA volunteers on how to set up a super-successful SCALA centre! I' m cooling my heels in Ilo-ilo City (and planning to do a monitoring visit to the Ilo-ilo SCALA centre next week) while computer shipping issues are worked out and then I'll be heading to Koronadal in South Cotabato Province, Mindanao in a week to do my first set-up. My partner is Lieza, a very cool trainer from a SCALA centre in Negros Occidontal. Koronadal will be my first chance to stay in one place in the Philippines for longer than two weeks so I'm pretty excited about that! It's been a bit difficult to feel like I'm integrating here as much as I'd like when I'm living in a different place every week or so. Plus I hear the fruit in Mindanao is amazing. I'll have to develop a taste for durian...

...which might be a bit of a challenge, actually. For those of you who don't know what durian is, here's the story of my first (and so far only) encounter. When I was in Grade 10 I visited Kensington Markets & Chinatown in Toronto with my geography class. I ran around with some friends and we decided to buy all the fruits we had never seen before. So we bought lychees and pink dragonfruits and a bunch of others and generally had a wonderful time gorging ourselves. Then as we were heading back to the school bus we saw a big spiky green fruit that was frozen. Could we resist a frozen fruit? Of course not! So we bought one and planned to eat it when it thawed.

We hopped on the bus, stowed the fruit under a seat and proceeded to get stuck in rush hour traffic on the QEW. We sat in the sun in a school bus for an hour, sweating and crawling forward. And then we started to smell diapers. The smell got stronger and stronger - dirty, racid diaper smell. We were all looking to see if we were by a dump, or a garbage truck, wondering WHERE the smell was coming from - and then someone looked under the seat and saw that the durian had thawed.

So apparently durian smells pu-terrific when it's not frozen. There are actually rules here that you can't carry durian in the cabin of a bus or airplane because of the smell! I've also heard that it doesn't taste like it smells - apparently it tastes sort of like creamy nuts, although it generally takes 3 trys to get past the smell. So I'll let you know how tastings one, two and three go!

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