Two of the first four images are mine from google earth. I’ll put more in soon as I get the chance.
I haven’t felt like writing until today. The reason will be obvious as you read on.
Our trip nearly ended before it began. Two weeks before we left, I noticed a blurring in my left eye, my good eye. I decided to let it go as I figured it was temporary and we had a lot of company coming to visit. Daughter Leslie was coming for Thanksgiving and daughter Devin and her fiancee Will were coming for the whole week. A lot of turmoil, Devin also had to spend time with her mom’s family in Moscow. So, I let the eye thing go.
We had a Thursday dinner with Leslie at our house, with a big dinner planned for everyone at the farmhouse on Saturday. That night, I decided to try to have my eye looked at the following day. A fateful decision.
We showed up at Costco in Clarkston at opening time on Friday and they were able to get me in at 10:45. I immediately hit it off with Dr. Hattan the optometrist and we had a lively conversation about a common interest, pistols. Then he looked at my eye. Dilated it and looked again. Then, a further dilation and more scrutiny. 2 hours later, shaking his head, he started looking for ophthalmologists for a second opinion. I had a floater, the type of which showed an injury risk, and he was very concerned about a possible retinal detachment while we were in a pressurized cabin for 11 hours over the Pacific ocean. After calling every doctor in the area, he found that EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM was unavailable on Friday. Not even one on call at either hospital. We drove home thinking our trip was over.
But, when I got home, a phone call. Dr. Eggelston had left a message on our land line. We talked and agreed to meet in his office Saturday morning.
At at his office in the parking lot and here he comes at 9:15am. With his son and a friend towing a fishing boat. I had delayed a steelhead fishing trip that morning and they were concerned enough to check he out. I felt bad, but I had to know the verdict.
Caution, medical content follows.
Extremely myopic (nearsighted) people are prone to floaters and retinal detachments. There is little or nothing that can be done about it. Lasix surgery masks the inherent problems. My lasix correction was 6.5 diopters in my left eye and 8 in my right. Basically, I could see a bit better than a bat before surgery. Myopic was an understatement.
There is no known or researched link between high altitude pressurized aircraft cabins and retinal detachment. Most of these problems are the result of a blow to the head or aging.
I’ve started on a long process of degeneration in my eyes. Perhaps later on there will be a cure. But for now, nothing. If the floaters get too bad I believe there is a surgery to remove them. If I get a retinal tear, I will have to get it lasered as quickly as possible. And I now know the symptoms of retinal detachment, very very important. It is about a 24 hour window for treatment or blindness can result.
This could have been a blessing in disguise. The doctor cleared me to fly, but I will go in for a follow up in February. Normally when he sees something like this, he tells the person to return in six weeks. For someone like me, heading off to perhaps a 12-24 hour arduous trip to the nearest treatment, a quick check was prudent and the doctor was glad to do it, even on a day off.
End of boring but important medical content.
As we talked, I found that they were learning to fish for steelhead. I was glad to repay their kindness by sharing how I/we used to catch them years ago from a boat. Yeah, I know where the fish hang out and what to use. And the answer is? Hah, not on my blog. Go figure it out yourself. I invested years learning the ropes. The tip I gave them was something I personally noticed while we were out and we started slaying those fish everywhere on the lower Snake and Salmon rivers. They also got jars of my own personally canned hamburger and omelet relish, recipes from the Great Depression.
Since we lost a day, it was a mad scramble to get our final packing completed. But we managed. And, I packed a bonus. A head cold.
Which turned into a sinus infection from the pressure changes going to the airport and flying to Seattle. By 1:00am Monday morning I was in agony and broke out—-TA DA—-my emergency stash of high powered antibiotics. Saved my ass. Yes, I know the symptoms. I’ve been prone to this my entire life. Those antibiotics were for intestinal problems, but they work great sinuses. I was still miserable, but on the mend while flying across the Pacific. By touchdown in Korea, my head had cleared and after a few days in the warmth of Cebu, I am pretty much back to normal. A shout out to my doctor in Colfax, Mark Parsons. Thank you for being so kind as to allow me to prepare properly for my ventures into the sticks of the Philippines. I’m going to the local doctor today to refill my stash. They might not be available here in Can-Avid, but there will be some in Borongan.
First day in Cebu was the usual. Buying things that we forgot to bring. The pharmacies wouldn’t refill the prescription, a minor hassle. Getting pesos. Praxy had cracked her old bridge and we visited Chona’s dentist. He said to fix it in the states. Manicure Pedicure for Praxy. $45 in the states, 300php ($6.50) at Guisano Island Mall in the fanciest salon, and 45php ($1.00) here in Can-Avid on the street. A belt for me. Toothpaste and bottled water. Hand lotion, shampoo, and snacks for the flight on Friday morning.
Back to the motel, MB’s Garden Inn Mactan. A beautiful place with great prices and even better food. Expats flock to it and there was never a shortage of people for me to talk with. Pool table (heaven), a pool, and a well used bar that I never got to use. A quiet and remote location near the south end of Mactan airport. The noise from the runway was not a problem. We had a hassle on arrival as the manager didn’t get out arrival date right because of the confusion with an arrival at midnight. The only rub on the place. Our room was not fancy, but neither of us cared. It was the best accommodations we will see until we return to Cebu.
Next day was reserved to visit our friends in Cebu. Martin, Jean, and Lyndon. So a 75 minute taxi ride to Mambaling, there we were.
Not hard to find now. Go out the back door of the new Guisano Jai Alai mall. The house is across the street. Less than a quarter mile to the giant new mall, SM Seaside. The biggest mall in Asia. Not going there yet. It had opened a week before. We’ll check it out in January after the holidays. Too crowded.
Praxy, Martin, and myself. At 83, Martin says he is getting tired. I met him on my first trip and it is a priority for me to visit him every single time I’m in Cebu. He was flattered that I would take the time, but this is important to me. He is the father of many of my good friends both in Cebu and in America. My first city tour of Cebu with him showed me special, interesting sites around the city. Some places I doubt if I could find them again.Praxy, Jean, and Livia. If you’ve read my blog, you know that Jean, along with husband Lyndon, are fabulous cooks.
A sale’s lady was also in the kitchen. Even though I don’t know her name, there is a story worth telling here.
Here is her store, a basket. She was shy about having her picture taken. But the story is interesting, at least to me. She stops by two places, a bakery and Jean’s, to pick up food to sell on the street. Jean makes empanadas, A Philippine treat like a fried dumpling. They can contain whatever you want. These had carrot, potato, and eggs, I think. Maybe rice. Inexpensive as the local clientele can’t afford chicken or pork.
Cooked and wrapped carefully, this version of street food is totally safe for tourists to eat. No hands touch them after they come out of the fryer. Tasty, too. A bit bland by Maravic’s standards (fantastic is almost an insult because those are soooo good), but the real fabulous tasting ones would be too expensive to sell easily. Might have to go for 20 pesos or more.
I was given three plus a package of bibinka, a cake made of cassava or rice I guess on a banana leaf. Sweet and tasty. After I ate it, I realized I was cutting into these people’s livelihood. Neither would have dreamed of asking “friends” or “guests” to pay, but there was NO WAY I wouldn’t buy these. So, I shelled out 20 pesos for the bibinka and 12 pesos each for the empanadas to the sale’s lady, about $1.20usd. They laughed and laughed as both got paid for something they would have given us for free. But I insisted and Jean knows me very well. She knows that I know that this is their only source of income.
Jean was charging 8 pesos each for 59 empanadas. 472 pesos. They were being sold for 10-12 pesos, 12 if lucky, 10 if getting towards the end of the day. 580-708 pesos if my ciphering is correct. So each of them is making about a dollar or so for a quarter day’s work.
Humbling, isn’t it?
An hour later we were back at the motel. I shot pool for a few hours, we ate dinner, then went in to pack our luggage. This pack was important, the most important on the trip so far.
The flight the following morning was on Cebu Pacific Airline. A good budget carrier, but if you stray, the “budget” goes away. And this stray is excess baggage charges.
A traveler can purchase up to forty kilos each for a reasonable $14usd. But, every single kilo after that is a whopping 500php, or $12usd! This is a budget breaker and the rules are rigidly enforced. There is much complaining on line about this and other Philippine carrier’s policies, but this is the reality. Comply, and all is well. Stray and pay.
MB gave us a ride to the airport at 5:00am, the owner’s son. Tipped him well, he was pleased. A lucky porter gathered our luggage with alarm saying “You get extra luggage?” I replied, “Yes, 40 kilos each”. He shrugged nonchalantly. His body language? ‘Lucky you!”
Through the first security, and an angry Americano was stuck there trying to get a diving regulator through the line. The officer wouldn’t budge, not allowed, PERIOD. The officer was saying “I do not have the authority to waive this item, it is the law! I cannot do this! You will have to check it! It is not my call! It is my job!” and the foreigner was having no part of it and getting belligerent. Sensing a battle was developing, I cleared us out of the area as quickly as possible. No way I wanted to even get close! I also did not want to see someone dragged off to the dungeon.
A place I never want to even THINK about visiting and/or seeing!
Up the check in counter for the luggage verdict. Four huge and heavy suitcases. And…80.9 kilos. One more tenth and we would pay 200 pesos or move something into a carry on. The counter agent flashed us a huge smile. I’ll bet he doesn’t see that once a month, maybe the first time. He was still smiling as he tagged our luggage 3 minutes later. The scale didn’t budge. Our luck had brightened his morning.
Through the second security and…
Off to Tacloban.
12/5/2015 8:50am Can-Avid, Eastern Samar, Philippines