Les’s mom is originally from a small town 80 km (49.6 miles) from CDO. One of Les’s first cousins who lives there got married yesterday and Les with all of her CDO family wanted to go so I agreed to drive them there to save money compared to paying for bus rides or hiring a taxi.
We left home at 4:30 AM and I was amazed at how many vehicles and pedestrians were on the street. Traffic was not heavy by any means but why are so many people out at 4:30 AM?
Del Monte has a major (it may be there only) pineapple processing plant 10 km (6 miles) from our house. On a previous trip I saw a guy jump onto the back of a Del Monte truck hauling pineapples into the plant that was waiting to make the left turn to go in. He proceeded to reach under the tarp and steal 2 or 3 pineapples then run back to a hut alongside the road. On yesterday’s trip there were two very young kids doing it. The one who jumped onto the truck was maybe 8 years old. He dropped 3 or 4 pineapples to a kid of about 6 years old who caught them and stored them in his t-shirt that he was holding up.
I am sure Del Monte does not really miss the pineapples that are stolen right outside their gate but I hate thieves and hated seeing such young kids start so young. I could tell it was far from the first time either had done this because they were far too practiced at it.
As I am sure you know, Del Monte is a huge company. The Philippines requires all companies here are at least 60% owned by Filipinos. I bet you did not know that the Philippine branch of Del Monte was so big that they bought out the US branch of Del Monte and they now own 100% of the company. If you own Del Monte stock it is Del Monte of the Philippines. This from Wikipedia: On February 19, 2014, Philippines-based food producer Del Monte Pacific Limited completed the purchase of Del Monte’s consumer food business, for US$1.675 billion. The remaining company consisted of the pet food division and was renamed Big Heart Pet Brands
I could see the sky starting to lighten about 5:05 AM and by about 5:40 it was fully daylight. It took 1 hour and 33 minutes to drive the 50 miles to Kinoguitan. We have made it slightly faster on an early Sunday morning before but I was happy with our time.
I do not do weddings anywhere but especially Catholic Filipino weddings that NEVER start on time. This one was supposed to start at 9 AM but did not actually start until after 10. I drove back home and let them do their thing. It took me a little over 2 hours to get home because of increased traffic.
Traffic here increases throughout the day and gets especially bad between 3-6 PM. Les asked me to pick her up after 5 PM. I left home at 3:30 and because of the rude and inconsiderate drivers here it took me FOREVER to get to Kinoguitan. There was road construction going on that only slightly affected my drive in the morning because NO road work goes on here during the dark hours. They usually start about 8 AM.
At one point there was a whole string of vehicles lined up going about 5 MPH leading up to a one lane stretch of road due to construction. One ASSHOLE decided he was more important than everyone else and he went left of center to pass me and the whole line of cars and trucks in front of me. I decided to teach him a lesson in road courtesy by not letting him around me. Needless to say he was not very happy with me.
In another case a guy made a U-turn in traffic that was bumper to bumper in both directions.
The highway is actually usable in two lanes both directions for part of the way in the city but when I was on my way to get Les the traffic was so heavy they were using the shoulder and crowded close together side by side so there were 4 lanes of vehicles in my direction.
There were at least 2 different places where traffic was bumper to bumper and stop and go because of break downs. I find it hard to believe that you cannot move off the side of the road when you break down but it is very common here to just stop in the middle of your lane when you break down.
It took me a total of 2 hours and 40 minutes to get to Kinoguitan the second time. I was very tired from the stress of all that traffic. Like I said the drive is only 50 miles and for it to take more than an extra hour to make the trip is stressful for me. I am use to driving from my house outside Van Wert to GM. It is 47 miles and usually took me about 50-55 minutes.
On the trip home it was even worse because it gets dark here about 6 PM. By 6:30 PM it was pitch black. It still amazes me how many Filipinos there are and how closely they live to the roadway and to each other.
Since the lots and houses here are so small, especially the squatters, they have no space to play or relax except on the road or the right of way. Plus since the houses are very small with low roofs they get very hot on sunny days and are NOT pleasant to be in until they cool off well after sunset.
As a result there are hundreds or thousands of people on or along the roads. Most of them are wearing dark clothes and are very hard to see. Many are children, even very young kids maybe 2 or 3 years old. Some places have street lights but in a lot of cases they are only bare 4’ fluorescent bulbs. They are put up on a 45 degree angle.
Another hazard of night driving here is the vehicles with no lights. In CDO there are tens of thousands of Pedicabs and they NEVER have lights of any kinds and rarely have reflectors.
On the highway the main problem are motor vehicles of all types: motorcycles, motorelas (motorcycles with side cars or cabooses,) cars and even trucks. One motorcycle with no lights last night had 5 people on it. I am guessing maybe 5-10% of the motorcycles of one form or another did not have lights on at all. Some did not even have anything reflective on the back. I mean NOTHING. Maybe one out of 5000 motorcycles here have headlights on during the daytime.
One semi hauling a 40’ shipping container did not have tail lights. I do not remember if he had headlights or not. At least one other truck had no lights that I had to pass twice because I stopped to get fuel.
The cost of diesel here is one of the few bright spots of driving here. The cost per gallon was as much as $4.25 per gallon. It is now as low as $2.29 per gallon at some stations. Gasoline is about $2.55 per gallon now. The lower oil prices helps of course but in my case it is also the better exchange rate I get for my US dollars. It was down to about 40 pesos per US dollar but now I am getting almost 47.