Withdrawing money was a runaway success, (thanks, Bank of America!) but I had a rougher time finding an apartment and a phone. It turns out that walking around and looking for apartments is trickier than expected, since most places want you to sign a one year lease. (I probably should have foreseen that.) So I'm back to looking around for a place, or possibly just staying put for the next two months. I ate lunch at a hole-in-the-wall place that I picked at random, and when I asked what the best dish was, the waitress pointed to the most expensive dish on the menu. I asked what the best dish was without beef, and she pointed to the second most expensive dish. I just pointed to something with chicken at random, and ended up with sauteed egg noodles. (They were pretty good, but when I asked to use the bathroom by the kitchen and saw that it didn't have a) a sink or b) a flusher on the toilet, I sighed and wished my gastrointestinal system luck.)
So that was a pretty abortive morning, but I kept pushing south in the hopes that I'd find a condo that was cheap, near the university, and available for two months starting immediately. Instead, it started pouring rain. And when I say 'pouring rain,' I mean that torrential rain of a magnitude I've never experienced, ever, flooded the streets all afternoon. I forgot that I made the awesome decision to come during habagat, or the wet season. First, I tried to stay dry under an awning, then I ventured out under my umbrella and quickly got soaked from my ankles up, and then I gave up and trudged through knee-deep water alongside the road for about twenty minutes. (The highlight was when I passed a Shell station, where I walked through what appeared to be a sea of water and gasoline.) I conceded defeat and went back to my room to shuck off my pants, socks, and shoes, and then ditched my shirt, too, which was soaking wet despite my umbrella. When I walked in, one of the guys on the staff was just finishing mopping up the entryway, and I tried to look more and more apologetic with every squelch that my shoes made as I tiptoed awkwardly to my room. I hated myself just then.
When the rain let up, I decided to go north and explore toward Ermita, and randomly happened to find a shopping mall. "Hey," I thought, "malls are supposed to be huge here," and since I'm supposed to be an anthropologist, I went inside.
MALLS ARE AWESOME.
At first, I was like, "oh, it's just like Cambridgeside Galleria!" except that is false, because it was about five times bigger. And it had a Marks and Spencer (!?!) where I had one of their vanilla and lemon biscuits, and errybody knows that Marks and Sparks makes the best biscuits ever and it brought a single tear to my acculturated British eye. I found a couple of used book stalls and picked up Don Quixote and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, had my phone unlocked, found a place to buy a SIM card, and found a charger for my Nokia, which now has chargers for two-prong square plugs, two-prong rounded plugs, and three-prong plugs, making it a telecommunications equivalent of Esperanto. I found all of this for like $20, AND found a grocery store where I picked up bread and mango jam, mangoes, apples, bananas, and (the highlight of perhaps my entire day) Amazon Frosted Flakes, that weird organic cereal that was my lifeblood in the Lowell dining hall and I haven't encountered since my senior year of college. And that is what I'm having for dinner now, because thanks to the mall, I accomplished two of my three objectives for the day and I deserve it.