The Library is Open!

Well, sorta.  And, we had our first truly major, horrendous, near disaster of the trip.  Read on.


The boxes are unpacked finally and sitting on fresh coconut lumber.  These three ladies volunteered to unpack.  I was relieved. 

I don’t know their names, but the lady on the right is a high school geometry teacher.  She was hoping she’d find a geometry textbook, which she did.   And quietly asked if she could have it.  Of course, that was the whole idea.  All the textbooks are available to any and every teacher that wants them, no matter if local or miles away.  About the time they were finishing up, another lady showed up with little Emma.  Mommy, the teacher, was not home and Emma wanted so see her mother.  After all, there was no school today and she knew it.  So in trots the babysitter with Emma in tow.


The kid in the candy store.  Colorful children’s books everywhere.  She looked them over as we straitened up the room and found…


“Tink-a-Bell”.  It was a large colorful Disney book with five princesses, Jasmine, Snow White, Belle, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella.  On the left side by her right hand are buttons a child can push and each princess says a little something.   She toted the book all around the house, would set it down, then explain to us what was going on, all in Waray of course.  I didn’t understand a word of it other than “Tink-a-Bell”, but I knew what she was saying anyway.  Hilarious and enchanting.  Meanwhile mom and the other lady were packing up several books each for school and reading to their children.  No Problem.  But, for some reason they decided to leave “Tink-a-Bell” behind.  Maybe guilt because they had already barrowed several each.  It was still laying on the floor after they left and I put it away.

As I watched them walk away, I turned and told Praxy, “This is FAR FAR from over.  That little girl is going to throw a fit when she finds out “her” book is not in that bag.  I’m glad I’m not going to be there when she figures it out.  They might have to come back!”

Two hours later, they were all back all right.  Both ladies were totally embarrassed about asking for the Disney book, but they had to fess up.  When they got home, Emma discovered after carefully going through both book bags that “Tink-a-Bell” was NOT THERE!  She cried and cried, totally indignant and devastated,  “WHERE IS TINK-A-BELL?”  Finally, they put her down for a nap and she cried herself to sleep.  Upon awakening, another inspection of both book bags, and the crisis exploded.  The household disintegrated into chaos.  No choice but to return, sheepishly, and ask for THE BOOK.

I could see Emma’s point; I’d read her perfectly when they left.  “Mommy got her books.  The other lady got her books.  Where is MY book?”

I put on my best strait face (I could have literally rolled on the floor laughing at both Emma and her mother), solemnly walked her into the book room, and handed the source of all that angst over to her.  She carted her prize out the door, soberly thanked me after a little prompting, and everyone went home happy.  Mom says she will try to return the book later.   I doubt if we ever see it again, though.  It’s gonna get “loved” to pieces.

Praxy and I are still laughing about it the next day.  We’re both ecstatic.  One book made a huge impression on one little girl.  A library?  We’re hoping it will make a huge and good impression on everyone in this region.  This one little experience made it all worthwhile.  Worth all the work and hassle of gathering the books and shipping them over here. 

I returned to the unboxing from Guiuan, having spent a night there.  Graham and Rowena drove out and picked us up for lunch at the Misty Blue Boathouse Resort.


Greg, an Australian, and his wife run the place.  Outstanding food and a well used bar.  Which we “well used” all day and into the night.


The Aussie burger.  Huge.  First hamburger I’ve had since I left home.  Perfectly cooked french fries as well.  And pizza from a wood fired oven.


It was 24 hours until I could eat another bite.  I guess I’d missed foreigner foods.  Imagine that.


The mascot of the place, a Philippine macaque.


Pool was being cleaned and wasn’t ready for use until the next day.


And the view to the north, the bay north of Guiuan proper.   There is an island nearby, off to the left.  This is where people embark/disembark for the tricycle ride to the Guiuan market.

Graham left before dark, but Greg and I drank “duck farts” and sampled various liquors from around the world until 8pm or so.  I owe him.  Next chance I get, he’s getting a fifth of my homemade blackberry brandy as he refused any payment for the liquors.  Might send some over in a balik bayan box next winter.  Too late to send much this year.  We’ve already gone through all that brandy I made this year!

One thing I was looking forward to, a night in an air conditioned room.  $1,000 Php there at the Misty Blue.  No problems!  So, I’ve brushed my teeth and searching for the floss in my backpack and…the lights go out!   SHIT!!  But at least I was holding on to my bag.  After a short, alcohol befuddled search, I had my little flashlight in hand.  Greg showed up with a lantern minutes later and I was back in business and took my shower.  Twice the lights flickered, then nothing.   Ugh.

A blackout like that means an extended period of no electricity.  Someone, somewhere, tried to reset a breaker twice.  Not good.  Come to find out later, power for this area is generated in Tacloban.  It goes north to Catbologan, around the periphery of Samar island, and finally south along the Pacific ocean to Guiuan.  So any problem anywhere along the line means that Guiuan is the last one to have power restored.  A new line is being completed along the south side of Samar island.  Should help the power problems here tremendously.

Greg had a generator!  Lights back on and AIR CONDITIONING!   YAY!  I drifted off to sleep cool and comfortable.  

1am, I woke up to no generator, no air conditioning.  Sigh.  Since the mosquitos were bad around the bar, I elected to finish the night with the windows closed.  Sad smile  I slept OK, though, and took a shower the next morning to wash the nighttime sweat off of me. 

Over morning coffee, Greg was horribly embarrassed.  He knew I was looking forward to a night of aircon, but he forgot to fill the tank with diesel and had none on hand.  So he was forced to shut the engine down rather than run the generator dry.  Fueling hassles result when you try to restart a diesel engine that has run dry.  Unlike a gasoline engine where you can just fire it up.  He knocked half off my motel bill as he apologized profusely.  I had laughed it off and still do.  I would have been without power in Asgad as well.  I also would have paid the full thousand pesos for the room without question.  (Power returned at 3pm the next day).

Greg was also grumbling at himself, an unhappy camper at his forgetfulness about fuel.  He always uses aircon similar to my plan.  Takes the edge off the heat and humidity and you sleep better.  But it has another great benny, white noise that covers sounds coming from the people (music, quarrels, and drunken parties) and animals (crowing roosters, barking dogs, and grunting pigs) around you.  He opened his windows to barking dogs, next door, and a poor night’s sleep.  Normally a very nice man, his under breath mutterings directed towards the dogs were ominous.

Maybe that thing about missing the dogs on the road has no merit after all.

But I’m beginning to feel like a jinx.  One of my big plans was to get in touch with home that morning.  Cell phones worked during the outage, but internet was totally down.  When we leave here in a week or so, we will spend a couple of nights in Tacloban as I shop/hunt for supplies for house repairs. Now if the internet goes down in Tacloban a week from now…

GGRRRRRRR!!!  Because…

We are planning to visit Palawan and El Nido for our true vacation.  Asgad has been busy with work and planning, El Nido will be the relaxation part.   I need to find a motel and book flights on Cebu Pacific.   I wanted to do a little searching here, but the only chance it seems will be Tacloban before we return to Cebu.  We have to spend at least one night in Cebu to ditch our large luggages and cold weather travel clothes.   We can leave them either at Chona’s Mactan house or at Martin’s in Mambaling.  We only need the carryons in El Nido, maybe one other small luggage.

I hear the snorkeling is good in Palawan, but what I really want to see is the underground river.  We talked to a couple of relatives that have spent time there recently.  A nice resort with lodging and meals, including all tours, runs around $400 Usd.  Less than $60 per night.  If you book it locally rather than through the internet “travel sites”.  Sounds fine with me!

10:15am  Christmas eve, Asgad, Eastern Samar, Philippines

PS  I’m sitting in perfect 75-80 degree weather typing away, clad in shorts with no shirt on.  You folks in the USA now have my permission to turn the thermostat up a notch or two on your furnace.   Think of me while you do so.    HA HA HA HA!

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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