Asgad, second post

Up again the next morning in Salcedo, we were packed for the trip to Asgad.  Lando, bless his heart, had come to the rescue and wrapped our heavy boxes Philippine style.  One weighed around 20 kilos, the other a staggering 55 kilos.  I wondered what was in it.  Later found out that there were several cans of food that Praxy planned for a feast for her family.

We had our seats booked for the jeepney and suddenly the conductor showed up early as we lounged on Delores’ porch.  Hollow blocks (bricks) were being loaded nearby and he had come for the boxes.  Those heavy boxes had to be hauled about 300 yards to the jeepney.  The 20 kilo box was no problem, it could be carried balanced on the conductor’s head.  The 55 kilo box had to be carried in relays to the jeepney by a couple of men.

Rush, rush, rush; we hurried to the jeepney and clambered on board with several empty seats nearby.  As I caught my breath, we started down the road to the turnoff to Asgad.   At the turnoff, the loading commenced and soon this jeepney was absolutely crammed with people, boxes and a luggage(ours), bags of food and cloths, sacks of fresh fish, beer, rice, bread, fruit, you name it.  On top were several people and a huge load of bricks.

I was hailed by a lady in the jeepney and she absolutely grilled me for information.  She was fluent in English, gabby, and curious to the point that the other riders were soon embarrassed.   I answered her questions as best I could as we climbed up the steep hill and crept down the other side.  She and two other people got off at the base of the hill where the road turns to dirt.  We dropped off people here and there and finally arrived in a small town where most everyone got off.  Time to unload the bricks and cement.

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It is totally amazing how much abuse one of these jeepneys can take.  Look at all of those bricks!  Most American rigs would fall apart quickly with this kind of mistreatment.  The only thing on board that was light in weight was my wife and a few of the women and children.  The jeepney needed a new battery, but push starting worked well.  I helped push after this stop to get us back on our way to Asgad.

In Asgad, we unloaded our stuff…

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and settled down for lunch, rice and fish.  The diet here is pretty much two choices; rice and fish, or, fish and rice.  Vegetables and fruits, other than coconuts, are scarce.  I sure am looking forward to a nice green salad with Ranch dressing!  14 days to wait for that.

With lunch behind us, Praxy wanted to go for a walk on the beach.  We didn’t even bother with the camera,  just the two of us and miles of empty beach.  We walked to the rocks, about two miles north of Asgad.  (Later I found out the locals were quite worried about me.  Seems there are “fairies” out there somewhere that snatch away children and I might be in danger.  There was whispering at the table that night about it.  I asked Praxy why she was immune and I wasn’t.  The answer was understandably vague!  My take on it: Why would fairies be interested in a old, grey, balding, Americano when there might be innocent young children around?)  There was a peculiar plant growing along the beach that had fruits similar to a pineapple.  They must be inedible as Praxy had never heard of it before.  Lots of snails, crabs, and a few shore birds.  That was it.  No people.

“The rocks” marks the end of the old coconut plantation that Praxy’s father used to own.  They once had a house in the area of those rocks, Praxy remembers visiting it occasionally with her dad.  They were the only two that went out there regularly.  That was a big plantation, 2 miles by perhaps 1/4 mile inland.  The family only owns a small fraction now.  Praxy’s father mortgaged the land for money for his children to go to college, then couldn’t afford to pay.  None of the children live here now, they are scattered around the Philippines, as my blog has mentioned.  All are successful and relatively well off, his sacrifice was not in vain.

It has been a big surprise to her family that Praxy has been married not once but twice to Americanos.   I am glad I have been accepted, or at least they sure have made me feel accepted into the family.  There has also been concern that I would not like the way of life in the Philippines or the accommodations that were available.  I am grateful for the hospitality, everyone has given their “best” to try to keep us comfortable.  What more could I ask?

That night, the rest of the toys were given away.  I was writing on the first Asgad blog and the din was incredible.  I’d get up now and then and look outside at the sea of children clamoring loudly for the goodies.

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Everyone was having a blast, but I could hardly concentrate.  The lady on the right is the old auntie I mentioned earlier.  At 86, she is the oldest person in town at this point.  She wants to sip rum with me tonight.  I guess I’ll have to accept.  The last few nights my stomach has been acting up, so I had to decline the drinking invitation last night.  Can’t let the old gal show me up, I have an image to uphold!

A late dinner of fish and rice (or was it rice and fish?) and we were off to bed.

This morning I was awoken by a strange noise.  Looking above my bed, there was a Toko gecko in the rafters staring at me.  Here is a picture of one from the schoolhouse…

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Tokos have the distinctive call, but the local ones in Asgad are quiet except for a little bit of buzzing and chattering.   Maybe it’s because of the weather.  The one above my bed yawned and then froze in place, not even blinking its eyes.  Except for the original little chirrupping  that woke me up, it was perfectly quiet. 

Praxy and I took off for a walk on the beach, this time with the camera.  It was a nice peaceful walk, just two sets of tracks in the sand from an earlier visit from a child and an adult.  We walked to the south this time, the end of the beach is less than 1/2 mile away.

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Looking north towards Asgad.  It was windy and cool this morning.    The waves were breaking hard against the reef, two hundred yards off shore.  Waves have been growing all day and are up to about 10 feet.  Not a good day for swimming.

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Praxy on our morning stroll.

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Me holding down a rock.

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And a local man gazing at the pounding surf nearby.  We are back at the house, me writing and Praxy doing laundry.

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Electric cloths washers are rare.  Electric or gas dryers are even rarer.  Chickens like the one on the right are very common.  I always ask to help and she always declines the offer.  I think she rather enjoys washing cloths by hands, it reminds her of her younger days living here in Asgad.

We are going to try to borrow a motorcycle and visit one of the nearby villages.  There is a Swedish man living there and we might try to drop in a say “hi”.  If the weather cooperates.  Praxy wanted to leave earlier and I declined because of the weather.  She had to move onto the porch with the wash as I write this because another rain shower has moved in and is pelting the clothing hanging to dry outside.   We will have to find cover to dry our stuff.  We need it by Saturday the 7th, that is the day we are planning to leave.  Looks like I have enough material for a third Asgad entry.  I’ll go out exploring and see what I can find to add.

01/05/2012   11:00am

About Ken

I am a federal employee that loves to travel. I don't get any time off during the busy salmon tagging season, March through November. So, I save my leave and explore the warmer parts of the world during the winter.
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