Monday, January 16, 2006

Drivers and Driving

My dad had been there about a month to visit relatives and prepare for all of us coming. He arranged two vans with drivers to transport everyone. One of the drivers was charging him $800 for three weeks which comes out to $40,000 pesos. The exchange rate is $1US to 51 or 52 Philippine pesos, but I'll go with 50 when I talk about costs for the sake of my math limitations.

So while this doesn't seem like a lot of money, consider, according to my dad, a teacher in the provinces might make $7000 pesos or $140 a month.

Having a driver was necessary as we had as many as 40 people at one point to transport within the province Batangas, and to and from Manila.

Driving by the way is different if you've never traveled out of the country. You know how in Chicago, every once in a while you'll see some impatient person do a little passing during traffic jams on the median? In the Philippines, this is considered an extra lane while at full speed - and no one even blinks.

They pass on the left, they pass on the right... they ride your bumper, they use their horns constantly, but not out of anger as we do for the most part here in the states, but to communicate that I'm coming up faster and don't even think about moving into the lane until I've passed and move over or be hit etc. This is a constant thing over there and not once did I see anyone screaming or yelling out the window.

Drive like this in LA and you'll get shot. Over there it is the norm.

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