I'll be reading the draft of a novel by a well known blogger which I've been asked to comment on. So I can't post tonight but will try to resume tomorrow. Just for laughs, you may want to click on the site of My Liberal Times, operated improbably by a German who wants to promote liberal politics in the Philippines. His site lets you go on a virtual tour of Zamboanga. One thing that even pictures can't convey is the pervasive smell of durian fruit you find in Mindanao and parts of Indonesia. To say the odor is really strong is an understatement and it takes some getting used to.
On further reflection the characteristic odor of Zamboanga is compounded of other smells too, including the tang of sea air and -- if you are near the public market at least -- the scent of fish, both new-caught and dried. If you wander down to the waterfront at zero dark four hundred and walk through the market stalls, you'll find Tausugs cooking up breakfast in small cafes. In the old days at least, they'd set out a wide variety of crullers and cakes on little saucers and a pot of brewed coffee on a table in front of you. You ate what you wanted and only got charged for what you consumed. There was always something of an "atmosphere" given that some Zamboanga traders were, and probably still are, in the business of smuggling goods across the international border with Malaysia. I wouldn't recommend this predawn expedition to tourists, nor even to Filipinos recently arrived from Luzon without so much as two words of Cebuano, Ilongo or Tausug to their name. And I probably wouldn't recommend it to myself now. But that's the way of youthful memory. Athos counseled D'Artagnan never to have a care because in the end all our "bitter recollections have time to change themselves into sweet remembrances."
On an unrelated note, readers may want to look at Harvard economics professor Greg Mankiw's discussion of California's recent attempts to deal with Global Warming carbon emission trades. The devil, he says, is in the details.