I tend to crave comfort when my “friend” pays a visit. When I’m grumpy, about ready to twist someone’s head off, I turn to the occasional Baileys and coffee. This is out of sheer desperation. So, it’s fitting to find out what Jodi Ettenberg did during her moment of desperation. Hopefully you immediately relate to today’s Summer Chick Tale. If not, you’re off the sangria drinking chorus I was about to form.
You can’t travel long-term without aggregating at least a few embarrassing stories, usually related to some cultural mishap or mispronounced word.
But when in a tiny fishing village in the Philippines’ remote Palawan island, I added a new category to the cringing: getting your period on the road.
I got mine a week earlier than expected, while riding a motorbike through the unpaved roads and narrow bridges of northern Palawan. Stopping in at the only store in the village, a ramshackle wooden house with piles of seemingly random things for sale, I had to ask if they had any feminine supplies for me.
Except I had no idea how to say so in Tagalog and the shop was run by three men. I went with “woman napkins” (tampons are rarely, if ever, sold in the Philippines), but was met with confusion. Napkins for females? Nothing. Tissue woman? Nope.
Finally, I climbed behind the counter with the guy and found what I was looking for, on the very top shelf. Instantly, the men in the store burst out laughing and one ran out to tell the rest of the village about the random traveler who came looking for woman napkins.
Next thing I knew, there were a dozen people next to the store, keeled over with laughter.
Being in the Philippines, where such joviality is common place even in times of embarrassment, I simply curtsied to them all, hopped on my motorbike and drove away. But I learned my lesson: carry supplies with you, even in the most unexpected of times.
Author Bio: After 5+ years of working as a corporate lawyer, Jodi Ettenberg embarked upon the trip of a lifetime on April 1, 2008. She’s traipsed through South America, South Africa, Russia, Mongolia, China, the Philippines, Burma, Malaysia and Indonesia. And that’s not all of them. After three years of long-term travel, she’s still exploring and writing on her much-loved site, Legal Nomads. You can also find her on Twitter or Facebook.
Summer Chick Tales was conceived from my love of the season and my obsession with slurpees. I always have one every summer. I also love women writers. Lots. If you want to submit a story or be in charge of the mojito station, see the editorial schedule. Come on, join the XX chromosome party.
Palawan Island photos: provided by Jodi Ettenberg