Sound like a crazy lead in? That’s because the day started out crazy. It’s Monday, and I’m sitting in Praxy’s brothers house, watching for mosquitoes and writing using a chair as a desk. We got here, but making hard plans while traveling in the Philippines is not a good idea. Fortunately I had a backup plan in my mind that worked.
Vavan spent the night in Mactan so he would be ready to leave at 4:30am for the 6:00am Fastcat (catamaran) to Dumaguete via Tagbilaran, Bohol. Originally we planned to leave the house at 5, but I thought about it and changed the time to 4:30. A lucky stroke.
We got to the ferry dock shortly after 5 and all was well, We unloaded our 5 50 lbs. luggages and with the help of Vavan, Lyndon, and two porters, lugged everything in to the terminal. No problem, right? WRONG! There was a sign posted saying the ferry was full. Oh crap. I had accidentally cut in front of a pretty white lady and I apologized and retreated. She got in and then out of line and delivered the bad news. Even business class was sold out. Oh, crap. She had a Lonely Planet guide that said there were two other ferry companies serving to Duamguete, but I pretty much knew that wasn’t the case. I had checked for months, and only one company had showed up in all my searches. There were also two other people there, a German man with his Filipino wife. I told them all to catch the Ceres Liner, everyone was on their own. But, there was room in our van for one more if we crowded, so I invited the young lady to go with us. She agreed, and off we went, wandering around the wharf.
We had to look around the other terminals, but unfortunately I was right. I kept insisting, so we took off for the south bus terminal. The van was stuffed with luggage and people, I had two heavy carryons on my lap. Notice that there are no pictures. This was a scramble. I had no breakfast, no coffee, no organization, no camera out, nothing. I was going to eat on the ferry, but I wasn’t going to get any breakfast now. But, that deprivation turned out to be an incredibly lucky break.
We rushed to the bus terminal and got there at 5:50. And…there was a bus leaving for Dumaguete at 6. We were off to Dumaguete again, if our luggage would fit. After some coaxing and finagling, we got our five bags, the lady’s two bags, and us on the Ceres Liner and it pulled out as we were sitting down in our seats, on time at 6:00am. Whew. Time for introductions.
Her name was Laura, she is a mechanical engineer from Romania, living in France, and working on a railroad in South Korea. She was on a well earned holiday visiting around South Korea, then Siquijor, and needed to catch another ferry in Dumaguete. And still not any pictures. The conductor came by and we paid our fare, 200 pesos each, $4.60 for a 4 hour bus ride. A Ceres Liner bus simply flies down the highway, and I was poorly prepared. No time to dig my Bonine out of the luggage and I was green, yellow, and gray quite soon. With the change of plans, we needed to contact our relatives. I was struggling with getting worse having to try to text. I finally got a little irate and refused to do anything, settling into private internal misery in my seat. At least I didn’t ralph, but someone else did. Yuck.
The bus driver managed to keep us safe even at the high speeds, 40-50 mph and sometimes up to 70. There is a huge amount of traffic and they accelerate and brake, duck and dodge, and honk and weave, all over the road. Passing within inches of pedestrians, motorized tricycles, pedal tricycles, dogs, school children, and jeepneys and no one seems even slightly concerned. Except for me. Not good for a lightweight motion sickness wimp like me.
Three hours into the trip we were at the ferry terminal on the south side of Cebu island. After grumping around for about 15 minutes, I started getting back into the swing of things. Here’s the ferry, with our bus on board.
Laura is one gutsy young lady, I’ve got a lot of respect for her. She travels all over the world by herself. The Philippines seems to me a bit on the wild side for a young white lady by herself, but she travels with assurance and fortitude. Maybe she is a third degree black belt! She gave me some breakfast on the boat, almonds and a 1/2 a Kit Kat bar. No coffee in her bag. LOL! She and Praxy ate at the Cebu side terminal and wasn’t ready for anything stronger than Pepsi at that point.
While on the ferry, I was able to contact Presco and Lita by text and voice. We set up for the bus to drop us and our luggage right in front of their little store on the main drag between the terminal and downtown Dumaguete. This was hairy unloading the bus on the traffic side. The traffic is fast and passes close.
After a 30 minute break and three San Miguel beers, we took off for lunch.
Here we are, gazing at the ocean. Presco has his back turned, then Praxy and Lita. Grandson Zach is on the right. And we are looking towards Cebu and Sumilon island. Siquijor is just behind the trees on the right.
Zach is quite the little character. Here he is with a local fruit treat, a halo halo. I’ve never seen it served in a carved coconut shell before, it is a nice touch.
He worked that big serving down over the space of about 3/4 an hour with determination. He sure is cute!
And that is all for today. And it is enough. I had a little bout with Montezuma’s revenge this afternoon; I had no idea he worked the Philippine travelers as well. Maybe it should be called chief Lapu Lapu’s revenge. At any rate, it spoiled a nice walk on the nearby beach. I’m still a little woozy as I’m writing, and hurrying through so I can go to bed. Presco and Lita’s house has no air conditioning. This is a test run tonight to see if I can get by without it. So far it’s pleasant at 7:00pm, I think I will be just fine. I had a cold water shower and it felt GREAT!
Happy trails, a new post coming soon.
Adding on. I will upload this post this morning (didn’t happen). There is an internet cafe across the street from the store and the owner was kind enough to let me plug into his network and upload. He isn’t even going to charge me, but I’ll pay. He won’t be there this morning, he had two sons born 2 months premature and one has died. Looks like the other will make it. So sad. He is quite concerned about the hospital bills, but he is glad his boy is coming around.
This kind of travel is not for the faint of heart. There are dogs barking, rooster crowing, heat, and the people here do not live in a fashion we in the US are familiar with. There are no flush toilets, the shower is a little bucket in a big bucket, food is tasty but unfamiliar, traffic fast and reckless, and everywhere are people with little or no money. They upload cell phone time at Presco’s store less than 50 cents at a time. Vavan and Lyndon were absolutely astounded that we uploaded 500 pesos of time at once, roughly $8.50. That kind of buying power is just not common in this country.
Another case in point. Presco and Lita have a charming young girl working for them named Marylou. She is 16 and so young looking, always with a beautiful smile, just graduated from from high school. She is working and working hard. Always busy. Sweeping the yard, dishes are done when we set them down, floor always swept in the house, washing clothes by hand, caring for little Zach. They pay her nothing except for food. Sound cruel? Nope. She is thrilled with the chance and has that big smile just pasted on her face. Because…if she proves that she is diligent and reliable and honest and hard working for one year, Presco and Lita will send her to college for a nursing degree, and pay for it all. She will have a chance to escape the abject poverty she grew up with.
We sent to downtown Dumaguete yesterday and took in the sites. I still didn’t have a lot of energy, so the pictures are a little scarce. But, I finally figured out why I was struggling. Not drinking enough water. I tried pounded down water at every chance; yesterday and today I finally have energy and can cope with the heat and humidity. YAY! Working on my second cup of coffee and fourth cup of water 1/2 hour after getting up.. It’s hard to get pictures while stuffed in a jeepney with 18 other people, or in a tricycle in the downtown area, but here is one.
Peering through the windshield. Chaos. But not too much problem. A cab driver once told me that driving in Cebu was like dancing with many partners at once. A very good description. A dance of traffic. Case in point…
We are passing another tricycle on the narrow street with a cab upcoming and a pedestrian on the left. No problem, everyone will work it out. After all, a wreck will cost you your day’s wages at the very best. Probably cost you your job. We walked over by the ferry terminal and Praxy clowned around on the sea wall while I took a break. I had just started the water thing and I was still weak.
We walked around downtown, then met up with Lita and Marylou at the local Chow King Chinese fast food restaurant for lunch and a halo halo. I’ll show you one of those treats some day. I always start greedily scarfing it, then say, “Darn I should have got a picture”. Every time. The halo halo (literally “mix mix”) at this particular Chow King was exceptionally good, the best I can remember. They are made with fruit chunks canned and/or fresh, crushed ice, sweet beans, sweetened canned milk, jello cubes, small candies, and a scoop of purple ube (yam) ice cream on top. Perfect for an overheated American man. Slurp slurp, there is no correct way to eat one except to eat it completely. 55 pesos for a regular serving which was about two cups, $1.25 or so in US dollars. And Chow King is a little high priced. Remember what I said in my first entry about prices here in the Philippines? I wasn’t kidding.
Looks like everyone is getting restless to go to the store for breakfast.
so I better wrap up. Yesterday’s breakfast was sausage, fried eggs, bread, and a papaya that Praxy knocked out of a tree in the yard the day before.
Today is a trip to a fiesta, then a cock fight. Yeah, there might be some animal rights types reading this. Too bad, tough it out. These people lead their lives, you lead yours. Don’t be judgmental.
11/30/2011 7:16am local time