Day 184 of retirement

Hi All

Sunday 8th August:

The third day of the Habagat (very strong southerly wind and king tide) is here and it can stop anytime it likes. Had some minor flooding down in front of us but the cottage is fine as it is up on a rise well away from the water.

Did another quick trip to our block but it is fine. Water wasn’t even close to any flooding so relieved with that.

Then off to Gasan for the afternoon so Guy could play Mahjong. She broke even for the first time so happy with that as they play slightly different rules that she is used to.

I caught up with the expat Sunday afternoon gathering in the Barbarosa restaurant (German food and very good). Usual group but I did meet a new guy Ron, an American, who has been here for 20 years. Had a good chat to him.

We arrived home on dark and wouldn’t you know it, our new water system had sprung a leak. But at least we were able to shower before I had to turn it off. Looks like the plumber will be back tomorrow to fix it.

Monday 9th August:

Man what a hard day. We are trying to open a bank account here on Marinduque as our current bank, BPI, don’t have a branch on the island. Our choices are LandBank or PNB. Now LandBank wants Guy’s citizenship (hope to have that in the next few weeks) and passport and two passport photos to open an account. PNB only want a copy of her Philippine driver’s license and two passport photos. So off to PNB we go.

Asked all the usual questions on international transfers and yep all good, or we are lead to believe. To open the account we needed P5,000 ($125.00 AUS) which is not a problem. We were in town to stock up on cash anyway.

Now there are 3 ATM’s on this side of the island and they are all in Boac. So off I go to get cashed up. Well as it turns out all three ATMs are down. The two LandBank ones were out of cash and the PNB ATM was “not working”.

Anyway the good PNB lady created the account for us (we will go back tomorrow and hopefully the ATMs are back online to pay her the P5,000) and gave us the “Swift code” which is needed to do international transfers. Off we go to the free Wi-Fi and attempt to give it a go. Well you guessed it the Swift code doesn’t work and they don’t seem to understand that we need a Bank ID (BSB) and account number as well. All we got was a big long number and they said “just use it”.

So back home we come. Luckily with still some reserves of cash to fall back onto. The Plumber was here when we arrived and “touch wood” the leaks are now all fixed.

The boys (Yolanda’s workers that we are using on and off) were here also working on the materials for our Nipa Hut on the block. They are doing what they can here at the cottage and tomorrow they will take the materials to the block (all on a Trike) and start building. We are building a 10’ x 10’ raised bamboo floor with a 12’ x 12’ thatched roof to cover it with no walls. This will be there for shade and to get out of the rain when the boys and us are working onsite. Our first structure on the block.

We are learning that things happen here when they happen. You can’t change it, cause that is how it is, has been and will be forever. So you just have to live and work with it. We are adjusting…… Slowly……

Tuesday 10th August:

Back to the block this morning with the boys to show them where to start building the Nipa Hut. They loaded up all their gear on a Trike (after negotiating the price of P150 ($3.75 AUS) and off they headed 6km down the road to the block. And man did they have this poor Trike loaded. They had bags of concrete, steel reinforcing, timber and all their tools

Then another meeting with an architect in Buenavista, who was recommended by Vern (our Germany neighbor at the block). This is also the area that our land is in so was worth a good chat. More food for thought.

Off to Boac to sort out the PNB account. This time the ATMs were working so all now fixed.

We are going to slow things down a bit for now.

We have the preliminary sketches done for the house so will sit on those for now. We will continue to work bit by bit on the block which includes the Nipa Hut, gravel the roadway in and get the well dug. But that will be it for the next 6 months or so. Also we will be away for 3 weeks in October, 5 weeks in December / January 2011 and several weeks in March 2011.

How things are done here are very different so we need time to adjust and get our minds thinking “like a local” before we continue. We didn’t come here to change anybody. We came to change ourselves into locals.

Everybody has horror stories of building here so we want to take our time and get to know the locals and their way of doing things before we go too much further.

We also really want to explore Marinduque further and get to know “our” island.

I am really enjoying getting back into my photography and want to pursue that further which requires “time”.

The rental cottage and area around it is fantastic with all we need to live comfortably. So we will just rent here for sometime now and “acclimatise” to Marinduque life. This includes me experiencing my first full Typhoon.

And we have a spare room for visitors so all is good.

Wednesday 11th August:

Rest day today. Cherry (our “maid”) came today and did the washing, cooked up some Pork Adobo, veggies and rice for us. Enough left over’s for several days so all sorted for food.

We are now back to one main meal a day which is lunch. Snacks for breakfast and snacks for dinner (fruit, nuts, raw veggies, local bakery delights, etc.). And tea for breakfast and dinner. Have found some good tea bags but have to use powdered milk as no fresh dairy products are available which includes cheese (I loveeeed cheese…). A good Double Brie King Island would go down realllll good about now.

And I haven’t had any chocolates in 90 days and nights……  (I loveeeeeed chocolate). Hey Alina some Haighs would really really go down nice about now.

Quick trip to the block to checkout the Nipa Hut construction and all good.

Then the afternoon rain came so quiet one indoors watching the world go by. Guy on the Nintendo / Sudoku and me on the Mac playing with photos.

Rained stopped late afternoon so quick wash of the Thunder Monster and tucked her into the shed for bedtime.

Ooohhh and topped up the Thunder Monster yesterday with gas. 350km and 7 litres of gas. So about 50km to the litre and gas is about $1.00 per litre. And all this on a brand new bike with Guy on the back 99% of the time. Love the Thunder Monster……..

Thursday 12th August:

Another rest day today. Got up briefly at 7:00am to let the boys into the tools shed as they are working on the boundary brick wall with the neighbors. Then back to bed till 10:30am ish.

Brownout till midday but luckily came back on for lunch so we could warm up (using the microwave) some of our food stash from Cherry’s cook up yesterday.

The Banana lady returned so of course we have to support the locals and bought a couple of the Banana Que’s. Very nice for afternoon tea.

Then I went for my first big walk up the beach and back down the road, camera in toe. Lots of “Hi Joe” along the way.

Meet one old guy, in the middle of nowhere, who asked where I’m from. When I answered Australia he proceeded to tell me that I was living in the Yolanda cottage and buying land next to Vern and talking to Alex the architect. He went to school with Alex.

Everybody in this Barangay knows what everybody else is doing, especially the new residents in town.

And the best news yet. Guy received news today that her dual citizenship has been approved and is awaiting her pickup. Wwooohhhoooo we can now have the title to our block finalized. Going to Manila next week to pick up the document and make the final payment to Laura. Then back to Marinduque land office to have the title issued in our names.

Friday 13th August:

Another meeting with the architect from Buenavista. He showed us some sketches and we discussed the cost options. As we are putting things on hold for a while we will go away and look at the house plan and try and digest all the costs that have been thrown at us. They vary wildly.

Raining so caught the Jeepney to Boac and finalized our new bank account. All working now.

And the ATMs were working so got cashed up. As I said previously everything is done on a cash basis here. Credit cards just don’t work anywhere and with the doggie ATMs we need to keep a reasonable amount of cash.

Saturday 14th August:

Quick trip to the block to see the progress of the Nipa Hut. All good.

Then down to the “fast food” shops. Within 2km of us there are a number of roadside food vendors who cook up fresh food each day. There is also a school in this area hence the larger number of vendors who feed the kids. Works great for us.

You have a little choice in what is available but most vendors cook the same thing each day so you do the rounds to see who’s cooking what.

Today we had fresh pumpkin, string beans, fish, garlic and okra cooked in coconut milk. This was followed by a desert of freshly cooked pancakes with butter and sugar (hot off the cooker). All this for the total princely sum of P30 ($0.75 AUS). We had rice already in the fridge. This was our one large meal for the day.

Tonight for our “snack” dinner we have fresh cucumber and some of lunch left over’s followed by some nuts. It will be a small meal.

So with fresh food being available every day for prices like these we will not bother cooking ourselves. We will support the local community.

Being Saturday it was payday for the boys. They work 6 days a week here and payday is Saturdays. Just finished sorting the cash pay packets, as they will knock off at 4:00pm.

Other Stuff:

Water Facts:

Okay here is how the water system works in the provinces. There is no reticulated water here in the bush.

For drinking most people get filtered water delivered for P25 ($0.63 AUS) per 20 litre plastic jerry can with a tap (which is what we do). So that takes care of drinking water.

Everybody has a well and either a hand or electric pump (most people have a hand pump) to access the water for other purposes. Here at the cottage we have a well with good clean water (no salt) that is on an electric pump pressure system.

Some of more industrious folks have an overhead water tank that gravity feeds the house. This means that they have a supply of water during brownouts.

So while we have power we have water. Now when we have brownouts (which is quite a lot in bad and hot weather) that means we have no water for washing, toilet & showering. These brownouts can be from several hours to 24 hours. Current brownout as, I write this, has been for the last 8 hours.

So we have 3 drums of water at the back door, that I keep full when we have power. With the brownout I can put a smaller drum in the bathroom that is filled using buckets and it is used for flushing the toilet and scoop showering.

When these drums get low in a lonnnnng brownout I can refill them from the local Barangay well, which is about 50 metres away from the cottage using carry buckets and hand pumping the water. Never thought I would be pumping water from well to survive but it is actually a very efficient system.

Ooohhhh and there is no hot water. Hot water systems don’t exist, period. With the hot weather they are not really required. But I must admit that our well water is rather fresh (cold) when it first hits you.

So after you read this and go to your tap for a “safe” drink of water, go to the loo and flush it, then take a nice long hot shower with uninterrupted electricity supply, spare a thought for Trevor & Guy and how doing some of those things requires some planning and muscle power to complete.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy

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