Praxy decided it was time to plant her new flowers she bought in Tacloban. Bougamvilleas. (spelling checker can’t find it). And, a tropical rain shower came through. The type that simply dumps on you for about 10 minutes. You can see the rain pelting down on and around her. It put 25 gallons of water in our barrels. And soaked Praxy to the skin. She didn’t care. She was planting flowers. That’s the only thing that counts. Besides, the rain felt good. It’s always warm here. (Am I repeating myself?)
OK, where did I leave off. Hmmmm. Oh yeah. Sunday morning the 27th.
A normal Sunday around here. Some people go to town on the jeepney.
We stayed home and worked bit on the house. Suddenly, an idea popped up. I don’t know where it came from, but a bunch of people decided to head to the beach. Praxy and I slathered sun screen on each other. No way we were going to miss this. Everyone pitched in for some lunch and off we went.
Sorry there are no pictures. Somehow, my waterproof beach/snorkeling camera didn’t get packed and I’m not about to risk my nice Canon SLR or video camera down there unless I’m in attendance. So, a verbal description.
A bunch of us got together and set up a tarp. This was no easy task as the sea breeze was a steady 20 mph or so. Six people teamed up and got it anchored. Then off for the swim. More like a dog paddle. The swimming areas are very shallow, you have to look hard for anything more than a couple of feet deep. The Pacific ocean breakers fall about 200 yards off the beach. No problem. Praxy and I sat and relaxed in the shallows as young children frolicked in the water around us. The kids are not allowed in the ocean unless an adult is supervising. High tide brings rip currents in the shallows, plenty strong enough to run off with an unwary child. Lots of adults, the kids went crazy. And worked up a huge appetite.
Leftovers from the Christmas party were on a table. We all stuffed ourselves. As we sat watching the ocean, the tide went out. The swimming area became inches deep. “Hey Ken, want to go out and explore?” Hell yes!!
We waded out into ankle deep water for the two hundred yards to the break area. The ocean had left a lot of old reef and rocks exposed. I got to looking around and found a snail looking thing in a crevice. “That any good to eat?” A machete was out immediately and a neighbor, Maravic, pried the large snail thing out of it’s hidey hole. They asked if we were looking for edibles. Hell yes again!! It turned into a treasure hunt, with the Pacific ocean crashing 20 feet away. Barnacle looking things. Limpet looking things. More snails. White clams. Soon my hands were full as everyone pitched in to find goodies for us to try. Kids and adults. After about 20 minutes, we had our hands full. It was also obvious to me that I was getting a nasty sunburn. Time to head home.
Clams into water to get rid of sand? Check. Everything else soaking to keep it alive? Check. Appetite? Check. Dinner time? It seemed forever, but it finally rolled around. Time to cook. Neighbors gave us advice on cooking these things as it had been ages since Praxy had done that.
Some of these require long cooking and a lot of preparation. The pill bug looking thing. I’d eaten them before and pronounce them tasty. We gave those away. The non pill bug looking things require a quick blanch and fall right out of their shell. They are delicious, mild clam tasting.
The “eyeball snails” are incredibly good eating. Andrew Zimmern needs to try them. Nothing at all like escargot, which have a bit of a gamey bite in my opinion. Almost lobster like in flavor, eyeball snails have a hard shelled plug they pull in to defend themselves from predators if they are pulled off their rock. I saved the eyeballs as a souvenir of one of the best days I’ve ever spent in the Philippines.
Cooking away. With that many different critters, it was cook and eat on the fly.
The white clams are the best clams I’ve ever eaten. Really. And no, that isn’t because I was hungry or enjoying the day. Mild, no sand, no waste, easy to remove from the shell, perfect with a little calamancy juice(a small citrus fruit similar to a lime). Two pounds would be a perfect meal for me.
I want to go out on the reef again sometime. Maybe when my sunburn has gone down.
New moon is coming, that means LOBSTERS! Maybe next week. They are caught at night by net.
It’s a shame that the people here can’t afford to eat these goodies. If they get them, they try to sell them to people like me. People with big appetites and deep wallets.
Next day, another fruitless trip to Guiuan trying to find supplies for working on the house. We decided enough was enough. Time for a journey to Talcoban. We needed new windows, and stainless steel bars for security. Nothing like that around here.
Up early the nest morning to catch a jeepney. The first one went by at 4:15am. No room. So we waited for the second one. And waited. And waited. Finally, a little after 6:30am, here it came. Loaded as bad or worse than the first. Solid people inside. Three in the passenger seat. Five on the hood. A couple of guys on each running board. (how can the driver see to drive?) 50 empty cases of empty beer bottles on top with maybe fifteen people up there. Boxes and packs as well.
Alright, time to man up. Get on or stay home. We got on. No place for me but hanging off the back. Not even any room on top. Praxy disappeared to the front. Much talking and arguing went on up there and suddenly people were scrunching up inside. They made a tiny bit of room, took the extra “seat” (a board) out of the doorway and Praxy shoehorned a place three people in front of me. (The driver was incensed that Praxy had to ride on a hot jeepney hood [she is very, very popular around here. I had to stand on the back!] and forced people to make room inside, which they did. Don’t ask me how they did it.) One guy crouched on the roof behind the empty beer bottles to make room for me to stand on the back deck. The board was reinstalled, passengers reseated, and we took off.
The guy on top, me, and the guy hanging on beside me were exhausted by the time we got to Bogton. My right hand went numb. The guy beside me, an older gentleman, had his right hand go numb as well. The guy on top, his legs were getting stiff from crouching and dodging palm fronds. He couldn’t stand or sit on the bottles because the tree limbs would have “low bridged” him. Misery. It was a slow drive, maybe ten miles an hour. Those jeepneys are licensed and registered for 30 people. My guess is there was at least 50 on board. Plus freight.
People waiting at Bogton got one helluva kick out of seeing me, the local “cano”, riding on the back of a stuffed jeepney. I was just glad to get out to the highway safely and get off the jeep. Cost was pretty reasonable, about 30 pesos for the two of us. My hand was so numb I could hardly dig out the payment. It wasn’t a limo ride, but it worked!
We waited about an hour and a Duptours van finally stopped for us. We knew the driver, Victor. Paid 150 pesos each for the ride to Tacloban. Note to Philippine travelers. Try to avoid the back row on one of the Region 8 minibus/vans. Very rough ride back there.
The ride in was uneventful and took a little over three hours. In Tacloban at 10 and it was too early to get a room. The motel by the Duptours terminal was nice enough to store our bag so we could do some shopping.
Motel in the back, a nice one. I’ll write up a review for Trip Advisor later. Both restaurants near the terminal are marginal. Better food on the next block east, a Jo’s Chicken Anatto.
Anyway, we took off to a hardware store to pick up windows and stainless rod. Which we found easily. We had all our shopping list fulfilled before we even checked in to the motel! We thought about going back the same day, but decided against it. It was time for me to reconnect with home and Praxy wanted a massage. The masseuse showed up almost immediately, so I decide to take off for…McDonald’s. I hadn’t had a hamburger for over a month except for the one at the Misty Blue Boathouse. No beef hamburger since the states. The place was totally packed, I had to wait in line for about 1/2 hour. Tricycle rides each way were 20 pesos and I got my burger fix. Finally, I uploaded the blogs you’ve already read.
Tacloban is booming. I think it is because of the large amount of typhoon Yolanda relief money that has been pouring into the area. For instance, four years ago there were around 1,050 tricycles registered to ply the streets of Talcoban. This trip, I saw tricycle numbers up to 1,900. That is an almost 100 percent increase in tricycles. Daytime traffic in Talcoban is crazy, almost like Cebu. Lucky for us, Tacloban is a much smaller city than Cebu. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of relief houses and apartments being built in the area. And a huge, brand new, hospital. While everyone still talks about Yolanda, the scars are quickly disappearing.
First trip to Guiuan the next day was at 5:40am. No way! We ate a leisurely breakfast that was included with the room, food quality only fair. Then, Praxy made an announcement to me. “I saw a flower and garden shop on the way into Tacloban and I want to get some flowers!” Oh boy. Rent a tricycle and we retraced our steps.
Sometimes, I kinda wonder. We found the place alright. Right where she said it would be. No way she would have missed a place like this. A huge nursery with greenery and flowers everywhere. Her eyes glazed over as she looked paradise over greedily. Stepping away from the tricycle, she stepped right into a deep, muddy, puddle! No problem, nothing could get her down. Muddy shoe and all, she bought four of those flowers I don’t know how to spell. We returned to our motel room, lucky we didn’t check out, and she washed her shoe and foot
Downstairs to Duptours and we booked four seats. Two for us and two for the flowers, windows, and steel. Someone else had booked the other back seat for two boxes, and another seat for a large suitcase. The gal up front had another seat reserved beside her for her shopping. So the return was half people and half freight. The van companies don’t care what is in the seat as long as the seat is paid for.
I also saw a “firefly” brand fan that runs off of batteries for 8 hours sitting in the waiting area at Duptours. Might have to get one of those on the next trip.
Easy return to Asgad. The van to Bogton, then rent a tricycle for 300 pesos to Asgad. Expensive trip, but the road is rough and the driver is unlikely to get fares for the return to the highway. We paid it gladly.
Next day, we started on the windows. I’m not going there now. The title of the post will be Window Woes. Nothing in the Philippines is easy, except for shopping in Tacloban. And for me, getting sunburns.
4:55pm 12/31/2015 Asgad, Eastern Samar, Philippines.