Day 226 of retirement

September 26, 2010

Hi All

Sunday19th September

Usual Sunday activities today. Guy’s Mahjong and my expat gathering.

Guy is feeling a little better today so hopefully the antibiotics are kicking in and she is on the mend. The fact that it is Mahjong day might help a bit tooooo.

Washed the Thunder Monster before we headed into Gasan. Gave her an extra special treat today with a wax job after the wash. Waxed the tank, side panels, front mudguard and exhaust just to give them a little extra protection from the sun and salty sea air. Will slowly work over her and get everything waxed that I can. You can never have too much protection…..

Had an interesting day at the expat gathering. Today it was the Germans stirring up the Poms. All in good fun of course but as you can imagine some very “entertaining” moments for the aussie boy sitting back taking it all in. Just remember these are all older retired gents who have been around and know a thing or two.

And Guy had her first win today at Mahjong.WWwwwooo hhhoooo. Not a big one but her first here so she is feeling very happy with herself and rightly so.

For dinner tonight we had the Trevor Filipino Rice Special.

You get the left over rice and spread it out on the plate. You place some cream cheese lumps (or any grated cheese of your choice) on the rice (as little or as much as you wish) and heat up in the microwave for a minute or so. Then add some Soya Sauce and mix up the rice, melted cheese and Soya Sauce. While mixing add some Kalamansi (Squeezed Lime Juice) to taste.

And there you have my Sunday night special rice dish. Pretty exotic hey???

Monday 20th September:

Up early today as John the Pom is arriving at 9:00am for a visit and a tea. It’s the done thing here that you hop on your bike and go visit people (arranging it before hand). He is here at 9:00am then goes to Jeff (another Pom) and then Kevin (the aussie), all just down the road from us.

Lucky I was up early as John arrived at 8:30am. Stayed for a cup of tea and a chat and left at 10:00am ish. Just after he left the sky opened up and we had a huge down pour. I think he would have gotten very wet by the time he got to Jeff’s.

Guy is feeling a little better today but we stayed in to let her rest. I did my usual walk down to the fresh food vendors and came back with some freshly cooked delicacies. Lunch and then a siesta was in order.

Made a fresh batch of Buko juice and then a couple hours more on the landscaping. Slowly getting there after many more buckets full of pebbles.

And to finish the day a cup of Buko went down a treat followed by a nice cool shower.

Tuesday 21st September:

Guy is off playing Mahjong with Vicky at midday so got the afternoon to myself. Quick trip into Barbarossa for Wi-Fi to catch up on the happenings of the world then off to Boac and try my luck at the ATM machines (we gave up last week as only one was working).

All good and had no issues at all with the ATMs today as they all were working. All cashed up again so got to be happy with that.

Quick wander round the Boac markets and then an afternoon storm hit. I waited for the heavy rain to stop before heading back to Gasan. Got wet but it was sunshine by the time I hit Gasan,

Into the Gasan markets for some fresh corn and Lansones and once again just as I was riding off another downpour hit so wet again. Ooohhh well at least it isn’t cold and it does offer a brief respite from the heat.

Guy returned from her Mahjong and sadly was unable to continue her winning streak of Sunday.

Brown out greeted us for dinner but was only about an hour so didn’t have to eat by headlight.

Wednesday 22nd September:

Usual Cherry day today. She did the washing and cleaned the bathroom. Love that woman.

She finished just after midday so we sent her home. She hasn’t been feeling well lately so any rest she can get is a bonus. She has been to the doctor and is waiting on some test results.

I headed for the block in the morning and did another couple of hours burning up the piles of cleared vegetation and slashing back the jungle regrowth. This is hard work especially in the heat and humidity. Two hours of sweating profusely and I’m done. The cool shower on my return home is grand.

Guy made a 2:00pm appointment in Gasan for her usual manicure and pedicure pampering and all for the princely sum of P80 ($2.00 AUS). I headed for Barbarossa for the Wi-Fi and a nice cold Coke.

Quick trip to the market and then home before the afternoon storm. Oohhh and brownout later in the evening, but we had eaten by then so all good.

Thursday 23rd September:

Due to the Manila trip on Saturday Guy played Mahjong this afternoon and I went exploring down round Mt Malindig, the highest point on the island, which is about 20km from here.

Was quite cool up in the mountains compared to the humid coast. Really want to climb this baby as I recon that the eco system on the summit would be very interesting. The summit is often clouded in mist and cooler so will get there one day and see for myself.

Rode over the top of the pass and down the other side till I hit the coast then back. Great ride on the Thunder Monster dodging chickens, goats, buffalos, dogs, cows and even a snake. Lots of “Hi Joe” in the villages on the way.

Also found the Sulphur Springs that people had told us about. But sadly they are run down and in need of repair work. Pity really as they have potential in the same vein as the Hot Springs just up the road from them.

Kept my eye open for the any Puggots but didn’t see any Benny.

Love exploring where you get on the bike, ride, take the camera and get some great pics. The ultimate retirement adventure……

Called into Gasan markets on the way home and got some nice fresh Tuna steaks for P50 ($1.25 AUS). Simmered them in Soya Sauce, Calamansi and a bit of water then eaten with rice. Very yummy. Bit like Adobo Tuna. Another of my Filipino specials.

Ooohhh and Guy had her first good win today at Mahjong. She won P500 ($12.50 AUS) so is very pleased with herself and rightly so.

Friday 24th September:

Up early (7:00am) as we were meeting Yolanda to pay the rent. Her and Guy had a good old chin wag before she headed back to her farm.

And of course a brownout at about 8:30am. So we decided to head into the Gasan markets for some more fresh fish. Passed the power line workers replacing a transformer hence the brownout. Got some nice fresh Tuna steaks again and cooked them up the same as yesterday. Heated up the rice by steaming it on top of the cooking fish. Tasted even better than yesterday.

Power came back on at about 1:00pm so another quick trip into Gasan for Wi-Fi as we head for Manila tomorrow. It’s a 10-12 hour trip consisting of a Jeepney, Ro-Ro and Bus ride, leaving the cottage at 10:00am.

Also gave the Thunder Monster a wash and wax and she now sits inside our little lounge room all clean, shiny and smelling nice and ready for her two week sleep. She will be safe, out of the rain and salty spray here. Always wanted to have my bike in the lounge room so I can just sit and stare, Yea I know, eccentricity is kicking in…….

Saturday 25th September:

Off to Manila and the usual 12-hour road trip consisting of a Jeepney ride, Ro-Ro cruise and bus trip. Made it safe and sound and even managed to get a few hours sleep. We snagged two padded bench seats in the air-conditioned section on the Ro-Ro. They were quite comfy so got a bit of sleep in the 3.5-hour crossing.

We are staying in a hotel just down the road from Guy’s sisters/mums place as Guy’s other two sisters (plus kids) from Australia and NZ are here as well for a family reunion.

Sunday 26th Sunday:

Family reunion day today. With all 23 of us loaded into three mini vans, we headed for the cemetery where Guy’s dad is buried.

The tradition is to setup round the gravesite with food and drink. You serve up a plate of food and a drink for the deceased, say the prayers (Catholic) and then everybody sits round and eats and drinks and has a great family gathering.

Today is rather special as it is the first time in many years that the whole of Guy’s family are together. She has two brothers (both in the Philippines), and three sisters (one in the Philippines, one in NZ & one in Aus (Qld)) who are all here with their kids. Was a great day for her mum with all the kids and grand kids round her while next to her husband.

Then we all loaded up into the vans again and headed for Rizal Park in downtown Manila. Went for a wander round the park and also visited the Chinese gardens.

Dinner was a stop off at Chow King for Halo-Halo and Cokes. With 23 in the party it was a military operation to get everybody organized and orders placed but all proved successful. Nobody went hungry or thirsty all day.

Guy awaits the arrival of her 15-year-old son tomorrow to spend two weeks with his cousins and us. Needless to say she is excited.

Exhausted tonight and I shall sleep well after a great day.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy

Day 219 of retirement

September 19, 2010

Hi All

Sunday12th September

Today Guy’s Mahjong day and my expat catch up day.

But before we headed into Gasan I did some landscaping at the cottage. Have built a rock ramp up to the front door so you don’t fall off the veranda when exiting round the screen door. Had to carry all the big rocks by hand (one at a time) and then the smaller ones were shoveled into two buckets from the beach and then carried by hand back to the ramp (50m up hill).

No wheelbarrow or rake here. All I had was a shovel and buckets.  But I took my time and got it all done. Sweated like a pig though and the cool shower after was soooo good.

Dropped Guy at the gambling den and caught up with the usual gang of expats who spent the afternoon solving the problems of the world.

Back home and a one-hour walk up the beach was in order to finish up the day. And for dinner, yep corn again……

Only one more day of corn to go and that will be 42 cobs of corn eaten in 4 days (10.5 cobs per day between the two of us).

Monday 13th September:

Another public holiday today on Marinduque. This one is for the celebration of the battle between the Spaniards and the locals, which the locals won (back in the 1800s).

We had a bit of a late night last night (12:30am to bed) as I watched the movie “Patton” and Guy was playing on the Nintendo. At 8:00am this morning we were awaken by a knock at the door. It was Ron (the yank) and his wife Vicki (Guy’s Mahjong buddy). They had a Lobster for us so didn’t mind being woken up for that.

Quick trip into Gasan town and then the market for some supplies for the next few days. Then a quick siesta before lunch after our “late one” last night.

For lunch today we made Pasta (our first one since leaving AUS). Cooked up some pasta and mixed in some sauce that we brought with us from Manila and topped it off with some Parmesan Cheese from Australia (that we also found and bought from Manila). Must say it tasted a bit weird, especially the cheese after not having any for 5 months. But went down pretty good I must say.

I made a trip to the block to do some slashing with the Bolo and burning up some of the piles of vegetation cleared by the boys some time ago. Bolo worked a treat as I slashed my way through the jungle, well the re-growth anyway. With the wet and the sunshine things are growing out of control at the moment.

It is actually quite hard to get a fire going. The piles are dry on top but wet underneath. I did manage to get two fires going at each end of the house block and then spent 1.5 hours dragging the dried / damp vegetation to each fire. Got about half of the piles done before I had it in the heat (from the fires and sun) and humidity. I don’t normally sweat much but man I was swimming by the time I called it quits. Did have a couple of drink stops in the shade of the Nipa Hut. Love our Nipa Hut.

Back home to a nice cold Coke and cool shower. All completed just before tonight’s brownout (3 hours long). Feels dam good to be tired from working on our block for us.

Dinner by Petzl headlight was Lobster marinated in coconut vinegar with salt and sugar. Eaten with crackers and cream cheese (Philippines cream cheese which is a bit like soft chunky cheddar cheese). Very very nice.

And of course followed by more, you guessed it, CORN….. All gone after tonight so a few corn free days are in order thanks.

Tuesday 14th September:

Off to Ron (Yank) and Vicki’s (Guy’s Mahjong partner) for lunch. These are a great couple that have been here on Marinduque for the last 14 years and are now “locals”. Ron is about to turn 75 but is fit as a mallee bull. They have taken Guy and I under their wings and are helping us to also become “locals” with some fantastic advice and willing to help out with talking to the locals about any issues we might have.

Ron is actually what I would call a Yank-Aussie. He has a real sense of adventure and mischief about him but in an aussie kind of way.

Into Boac this afternoon, looking at a house on the way. Nice house but in the wrong suburb. Building on our block is looking better and better (despite the trials and tribulations we will go through) as we can get exactly what we want.

The main reason for the Boac trip was to get cashed up. And wouldn’t you know it. Two of the three ATMs were “Offline”. And the third had about an hour-long line up (ATMs and brownouts, the 2 biggest joys of Marinduque….). We weren’t that desperate for cash so gave it a miss and headed home to beat the afternoon rain (started 5 minutes after we got home).

Wednesday 15th September:

Cherry here today to do the washing. She has been a bit crook this last week so once the washing was all done (just after midday) we sent her home.

Guy also has picked up a bit of a head cold. Actually watching it very closely as Dengue Fever is affecting a number of folks on the island. The Dengue symptoms are flu like (headache, fever, joint & muscle pain, rash and strange taste sensations) and you know it is Dengue if a rash appears. So far so good as it appears to be flu only.

Laura’s (woman we bought the block off) son had it a few weeks ago and finished up in hospital on the mainland for a few days.

There are no vaccinations for it and nothing to treat it if you get it. Rest and lots of fluids is the cure.

At lunch time I walked down to the local fresh food vendors 1.5 km down the road. Got some snake beans & pumpkin cooked in coconut milk to go with our other bits and pieces. Lots of big cheery hello’s and “hey Joes”. I think the locals now know that I’m living here and not passing through.

Did a few more hours of my landscaping at the cottage as well. Carting rocks and pebbles from down by the beach to landscape round the front door and to the front gate. Everything gets carted in two buckets (no wheelbarrows here) so lots of trips back and forth. One more day’s work and should be done.

I find it quite hard in the heat and humidity. Moving very slowly and taking my time. About 2 hours a days is enough for me……….

Thursday 16th September:

Five years ago today I met this amazing lady, Guy, in a coffee shop in Chastwood, Sydney.

Who would have thought that 5 years on we are married, retired and living in a cottage on the beach on a remote island in the Philippines and loving it.

You never know what destiny holds for you just round the corner.

We were going to celebrate at Barbarossa with their special sausage platter for two but with Guy’s cold now in full swing we decided to wait till she feels better and can enjoy the taste of the Barbarossa special.

But she did go into Gasan and have a hair wash, colour and blow dry, just to pamper her self a little. I took advantage of free Wi-Fi. Back late afternoon and I finished the day with some more landscaping working round the cottage.

Still keeping an eye on Guy’s cold but so far (touch wood) it is just a cold. The next few days will tell.

Friday 17th September:

Off to see John (the pom) this morning to take some pics of his Labrador puppies. John and Yolanda breed them and he wants some pics of the 8 puppies for his Christmas cards. All good as I got some pics but man trying to follow 8 puppies and get pics of them was a challenge. What is it they say about working with kids and animals……..

Then followed John on a bit of ride to explore behind the airport. John had seen this big new house going up from the plane so wanted to see whose it was. Found the house and discovered it belonged to an American guy. He is away at the moment so spoke to the caretaker. Then a short cut back through the airport (riding across the main runway – looked left then right for planes…) to the main road.

Into Gasan for our Sausage Platter (to celebrate 5 years together) at Barbarossa as Guy was feeling at little better today. Very nice indeed and all washed down with a nice cold Coke.

Just down the road from us is a sign that points to a school some 8km inland. So we decided to explore this track on the way home. Followed it up the side of this mountain and then down the other side to the school. Checked with the locals and this was the end of the road. It doesn’t link up with any other roads just stops at the river.

Was some fantastic scenery and great fun riding over this steep, rough, washed out narrow track (in places) (reminded me of Macquarie Pass but all in dirt, for the Sydney folk). But the Thunder Monster handled it all in its stride.

Got back to the cottage mid afternoon before the storms and by this time Guy was exhausted from her flu so a hot cup of tea and a lay down were in order.

Went to download my pics of the puppies and the ride and the card kept crashing. All the pics were visible on the camera and in Finder on the MacBook. After some very nervous moments I tracked it down to one image file that was corrupt. So managed downloading all the pics other than that one.

Then formatted the card in the camera, took some pics, downloaded them, formatted again, more pics and downloaded. All good. I have had this happen before on another card where I only ever deleted the pics and never formatted it. The card in question hasn’t been formatted since new some 12 months ago so lesson learnt, again.

Finished up the day with a walk up the beach on sunset. Another glorious one, as expected…

Saturday 18th September:

Rest day today so Guy can recover from her flu. She has this nasty chesty cough so broke out the antibiotics (a 3 day course) this morning. The everyday flu drugs are helping but the cough is not good.

I went for a walk down the road and got some fresh hot food for lunch (Pinakbet which is snake beans, bitter apple, pumpkin, egg plant and herbs & spices). Eaten with rice and very nice once again.

I ducked into Gasan (Barbarossa) for Wi-Fi this afternoon to post the blog pics ready for tomorrow. Back home after the afternoon storm to find Guy snoozing which was good. She needs all the rest she can get right now as we head back to Manila next Saturday for 2 weeks as Jordan (her son) arrives for a two week visit (School holidays back in AUS).

We will be doing the family thing with Jordan (some of his cousins from AUS will also be here) plus shopping plus going to the Tamarraw Beach Resort on Mindoro with his cousins for a few days.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy

Day 212 of retirement

September 12, 2010

Hi All

Sunday 5th September

Sunday is Guy’s Mahjong day and my expat catch up day.

Thunder Monster got a wash and a polish this morning before we left. We rode through the roads works yesterday right after they had watered it. There wasn’t enough mud so they decided to create some more……..

Meet the usual gang (American, German, Danish, English, Swiss, Aussie) at Barbarossa in Gasan for an afternoon of solving the problems of the world and grand job we did. You can all sleep safety knowing that we have every thing under control. Never a dull moment when these guy’s all get together I assure you.

Barbarossa now has Wi-Fi so in between the problem solving I manage to post each week’s blog update, catch up on emails and surf the web for “useful” stuff.

Back to the cottage at 5:30pm and just in time to sit on the beach and watch another glorious sun set go by. Then good old Sunday night leftovers for our light dinner. Made a fresh Buko Juice batch for tomorrow and an early night after our big day.

Monday 6th September:

Off to look at another house this morning just the other side of Gasan. House was actually okay but it is in the middle of a group of strata type housing. Your neighbors are just 2m away from you. And with all the dogs, pigs, chickens and karaoke, not the place for us.

Called into Gasan market to get a few supplies as Guy is cooking today (for the first time). She is doing the “Chicken Rice” from the recipes on the blog. Looking forward to it as it is pretty dam good.

Caught up with Jeff (the pom) at the market and organised for our hiking trip tomorrow morning into a waterfall so looking forward to that.

Afternoon siesta followed by a swim in the warm waters, a glorious sunset and more corn on the cob for dinner.

Tuesday 7th September:

Up at 7:00am (early start….) and made my way over to Jeff’s house which is 10 minutes away, arriving at 8:00am. We headed off on our bikes for a 5-minute ride to the road taking us into the river.

We cheated a bit as we rode the 2km in instead of walking. A bit of off roading was in order but fun (would have been better on the mountain bike). Left the bikes at the end of the road and hit the river trail.

Followed the river, crossing it many times (wet feet so TEVA’s the go) to get to the waterfall turnoff. The waterfalls are actually on a side stream and flow into the main river. All you see is a small set of falls through the jungle and then once you enter the canyon there are three 15’-20’ falls on different levels going up the canyon.

There are some steps cut into the rocks but they are all mossed over so rather slippery. Lots of vines to hang onto though. Reminded me of my old adventure racing days, canyoning up some remote canyon (Margaret no ropes required and by your standards very tame but oohhh so much fun).

We climbed up to the top falls and back down by which time we were very hot and sweaty so a dip under the bottom falls was in order. Very very refreshing indeed.

Then we headed further up the main river to this place where there is this grotto in the cliff. In the grotto there is a mineral stream that has been flowing down over some big old tree roots for many years and it has calcified round the roots. So you have these stone tree roots. Very prehistoric and spectacular. The Photo I took doesn’t do it justice so come on over and I’ll show you.

Lots of beautiful butterflies about and saw a very brilliant blue Kingfisher with an orange chest. Wasn’t afraid of us at all. It really was a beautiful hike in and out along the river. When you all come visit us this hike will be on the agenda. Half a day is all that is required for a picnic at the falls.

Back to the bikes and headed for Kevin’s block just down the road (fellow Aussie building here on 10 hectares in the foothills). Had a look at his farm and had a chat on what he is proposing to do. Then called into Ron’s place (a good Yank) and had a chat to him over a coffee and cold drink for me.

Vickie (Ron’s wife) plays Mahjong with Guy and actually picked up Guy today to play Mahjong with her and the gang in Gasan for the afternoon. So all good.

Back home for lunch and then into Gasan for some Wi-Fi but as I arrived a brownout hit. So got gas for the Thunder Monster (gas station has a generator), corn at the market and some more sweet Lansones and headed home for a very leisurely afternoon / evening.

A great day all round for us both and we are “slowly” getting very used to this relaxed and leisurely life style.

Wednesday 8th September:

Cherry is here today for the washing and cleaning so a leisurely one for us.

I am actually feeling it in my legs from the hike and climb up the waterfalls yesterday. Must admit that I am not doing any training at the moment. Just walks up the beach, which is pretty casual. Might have to get back into some “light” training for my hiking activities up in them their hills.

Yolanda sent over a very nice chicken curry for lunch, which is my early birthday present for tomorrow. This is the first time in our lives where our landlord is cooking for us. Bring it on I say.

As we have been out and about looking at houses we now have people contacting us re selling their houses. And once we visit we have them chasing us up asking what we will offer them for their houses. The rich westerners have hit town.

Certainly is a buyers market here right now.

We are going back to have a second look at a very nice house on Friday from one of Guy’s Mahjong mates. This particular family has kids now living in the USA so want to sell their house so they can move over to be with the kids. It is just the other side of Gasan about 100m from the beach and was designed and built (well the supervising and buying of materials) by the wife.

Thursday 9th September:

Big 55 birthday today…… Wwwooo hhhoooooo. I am now officially retired.

Being 55 now allows me access to one of my two Super funds to pursue my retirement adventures to the max (have to wait another 5 years for the other one). When I started working in Local Government a VERY long time ago I qualified for retirement at 55 with no penalties so I am now going to / are taking advantage of this little perk to the fullest.

I’ve always (from the age of 19) had this dream of retiring at 55 but never really thought it would come true. Thought that I might be able to work part time but not be fully retired at this age. But with the huge support of Guy, my beautiful wife, we have been able to make it happen right on cue.

Today is the most memorable birthday of my life and Guy and I are sharing it together in our own little piece of paradise…. RETIRED……

Each and every one of you has been (and still is) a great part in both our life journeys. We have shared some dam good and challenging times together and have been able to maintain these life long friendships through it all. Man we have had some fun times together.

Take a moment and think of one thing that we did together that brings a smile to your face.

I just did and it was “Dunn’s Swamp”. Those who were there will know what I’m talking about.

To each and every one of you I wish you a speedy retirement so you too can enjoy your very own retirement adventure (what ever that maybe) like Guy and I.

Had a great leisurely day. Guy made me breakie and we sat on the veranda and watched the light rain fall (heard of watching paint dry and grass grow so we have added watch the rain fall). All cleared by midday so we headed off to Kurba restaurant, which is up by the Hot Springs. Had Crispy Pork and Noodles (good luck to eat noodles on your birthday) and all washed down with a Coke with a slice of lemon.

Then back to Gasan with the laptop to Barbarossa for free Wi-Fi and Halo-Halo for desserts. Home and a walk up the beach was in order. Cooked up some fresh corn from Yolanda for our light dinner and finished off with a nice hot cup of tea.

Life doesn’t get any better than this.

Friday 10th September:

Off to have a second look at a house this morning. It’s the one the other side of Gasan and belongs to one of her Mahjong buddies. This is the one with kids overseas and they want to move off the island. It is a very nice house but just isn’t us. And it is also in a very populated neighborhood (pigs, chickens, dogs, etc.). Nice but not for us.

We then braved the road works and headed into Boac. You see I’m trying to get a tire pressure gauge for the bike and can’t get one anywhere on the island. Got a lead that this one place in Boac might have them. They didn’t have any but they are getting some on Saturday (just can’t say which Saturday…..). So will try again next week.

Headed to the ATM to get some cash and number 1 was “out of Service”. Number 2 had a lineup with about an hour wait and number 3 was closed (in a government building). We discovered that it was a public holiday (the end of Ramadan even though the Philippines is predominantly Catholic) so the banks and government offices were all shut. The best public holiday we had was one for the “Ex Mayors birthday”.

Guy came back from the market with a bag full of 42 cobs of corn for P100 ($2.50 AUS). Bargain. Actually I have cooked up the first batch of 12 and it is very sweet. It is the smaller variety and a lot sweeter than the bigger variety. So guess what will be eating for the next few days.

Called into the “Goat House” (their specialty is Goat meat) on the way home and got some Kari-Kari. This is a Marinduque special recipe made with mince pork, blood jelly and herbs and spices (bit like a stew). It is very very nice with rice so we got a few serves of that along with some Pork Meatballs and green jack fruit with snake beans cooked in coconut milk.

A great lunch was had by all.

While Guy enjoyed a siesta I went for a walk back into them their hills behind us. We found this track the other day so I decided to follow it for as far as I could. Got about 3.0km back into the jungle and it got too over grown to go any further. Will take the Bolo next time. And see if I can get to the ridge top.

On the way home got hit by the afternoon tropical downpour. Made it home while still pouring so did the old shampoo and wash under the downpipe in the nice fresh water. Very refreshing.

And guess what we had for dinner? More corn on the cob and a brownout to go with it.

Saturday 11th September:

Very stormy day today so decided to “stay in” for the day. Huge storm hit us mid morning. Was thinking of going to the block to do some work but gave that away.

We were about to warm up lunch when wouldn’t you know it, brownout. So cold rice with the Kari-Kari that we did manage to heat up was all that we had.

Power came back on a couple hours later (after my siesta) so we resumed a late lunch. Also cooked up another batch of corn for the next 24 hours. Still got 30 cobs to go.

Now Saturday is my “rubbish” day. There is no garbage pick up as such here on the island. There is an old poly bag down on the road where you can put your rubbish bags. This is collected by a private guy on his Trike when ever he feels like it. He recycles what he can and I probably don’t want to know what he does with the rest.

So at the cottage we have a compost heap for all the food scraps that the boys tend and then use the compost for planting, as the soil here on the coast is sandy and not to good.

Anything that is burnable is burnt in a homemade incinerator that the boys built. It is actually quite hard to get a fire going here due to the humidity and things being wet from the wet. Old Coconut palm leaves work the best so I collect them up, then strip the long leaves with the Bolo and fold them up into a tight bundle. I know that things like plastic bags shouldn’t be burnt but we have no other option here. Burying them is not the go so sadly burning it is. Any tins or solid plastic go to the garbage bag for the man. This is my Saturday job.

Actually we only generate about 1 ½ Woolies bags of rubbish each week (a few tins and packets), far less than back in AUS. When we go to the markets we have our own bags. When we get food from the roadside vendors we supply our own containers. Food is a day by day thing here as the road side vendors cook up a batch fresh each day. We plan only about 2 days ahead at the most. And there are no Supermarkets here anyway. Very simple food chain process and I like it.

The other food varmints we have to contend with are ants. You cannot leave ANY food out, as the ants will find it. All food and food scraps have to be in the fridge, in a sealed container or we hide them in the Microwave (short term solution). These little buggers can find food in a matter of 30 minutes so even when preparing food you have to be careful. Surface spray seems to keep them at bay for a while but when you spray one path they just find another one.

We thought we had them beat and this morning they had got to the rubbish bin. So I tracked them right across the floor to the bathroom when they had found an opening. We had surface sprayed the entire door openings so they just went elsewhere.

But given all our little trials and tribulations I would swap it for anything.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy

Day 205 of retirement

September 5, 2010

Hi All

Sunday 29th August:

Awoke to another brownout (went off at about 5:00am). Didn’t come back on till about 3:00pm so a long one, again.

Off to Gasan for Guy’s Mahjong session and my catch-up with the expats at the Barbarosa. Had a good turnout today (8 all up consisting of 2 Americans, 1 German, 1 Swiss, 2 Pommies and 2 Aussies). The other Aussie is Kevin the plumber from Coffs Harbour. He has arrived to build house and live here with his wife on 5 hectares (a coconut and rice farm) just up the road from us. This is his retirement at age 55.

Of course we solved all the problems of the world and Marinduque. Never a dull moment when we all get together with a demographic like that.

Back to the cottage (5:30pm) and power so topping up the water containers was number one job.

Walk on the beach and watch the sun go down (nothing spectacular as all cloudy) and then a quick shower, just incase we lose power.

Light dinner consisting of some cucumber, tomatoes, rice and canned adobo Tuna followed by the last of the Lansones.

Relaxed and ready for my cup of tea before bed. Aaaahhhhhh……..

Monday 30th August:

Quiet day today after the hectic weekend.

Yolanda and the boys are here working on the block behind the cottage (Yolanda owns that one as well). They are planting Banana’s and more coconuts and trimming the grass.

It’s really great when they are working here as Yolanda cooks lunch for them and always has enough for us as well.

Today we had a homemade soup recipe, which consisted of Malungay leaves (local tree which is growing here at the cottage), corn (from Yolanda’s farm and shaved off the cob), chili, garlic and some dried pork. All brewed up and boiled for a while and then eaten with red rice. Very healthy and tastes dam good too and our one big meal for the day..

Quick trip to the block and on the way home got some more corn on the cob (both cooked for dinner tonight and un-cooked for tomorrow) from our “supermarket” just up the road. The corn is all in season now and is very sweet. You can buy it cooked or uncooked, 3 cobs for P10 ($0.25 AUS)

After our leisurely evening walk up the beach some nice hot corn on the cob washed down with a nice hot cup of tea was in order for dinner. I have found a really good powdered milk (no dairy available here on the island (milk or cheese)) so the tea isn’t too bad at all

Tuesday 31st August:

Quick 7:30am trip to the Gasan Market as it is Market Tuesday. The one big day where all the hills people come to town so the market doubles in size. We meet one of the boys there so he could buy me my very own Bolo. Got the blade for P150 ($3.75 AUS) and he will make me the handle and the sheath to go with it.

Then I can slash away in the jungle to my hearts content. Actually need it at the block as some of the area that the boys cleared has already started to re-grow so needs a trim.

Third time lucky. The Thunder Monster got her first service today (500km with 750km on the clock). The mechanic turned up on time (9:00am) and with the correct parts. Miracles do happen. While we were waiting we wandered back to the Gasan Markets and stocked up on some fresh produce (took some pics as well as I love markets).

Made it back home in time for one of Yolanda’s lavish home cooked lunches as the boys are working at the cottage today doing some fencing. Today we had a veggie soup that consisted of snake beans, bitter apple with some other herbs and spices. Also a Fish Sinigang all consumed with red rice. Very nice and healthy.

Quick trip into Gasan to the Barbarossa Restaurant for free Wi-Fi later in the afternoon, then home for fresh corn on the cob for dinner (we boiled up the fresh cobs ourselves). We had three cobs each at a cost of P2 each ($0.05 AUS). So we feed ourselves for 15 cents each and it was dam good.

Made up a fresh batch of Buko Juice as per the recipe in the Saturday 28th August post. It’s in the fridge chilling ready for tomorrow. Small sample was taken just to be sure it was okay. See the pics for a pic of the Buko Juice.

Wednesday 1st September:

Guy’s birthday today. Nice hot cup of coffee (well 3 in 1) for her and a tea for me to kick start the day. Then for morning tea we sampled the Buko Juice from yesterday and yep it was outstanding. Man I love this stuff, I could live on it.

Cherry is here doing the washing and cleaning the house so Guy is indeed in for a leisurely day.

Into the market to get a few supplies and some “pastries” for afternoon tea with the boys who are back fencing today.

Yolanda made us another outstanding lunch with all her own produce grown here at the cottage and her farm. She does spoil us but hey, who are we to argue with a local.

Into Barbarossa for Wi-Fi for Guy to catch up on her birthday wishes and back for afternoon tea. Yolanda outdid herself with a great spread where everybody joined in. Noodles were served as it is good luck and will give you a long and prosperous life when eaten on your birthday. All followed with our “pastries”.

Oohhh Alina we had a red wine to celebrate. It was a “Californian” red from Argentina. It was okay but would have killed for a good old aussie red. The boys finished it off and then sang happy birthday to Guy in English and Tagalog so it must have been good.

And right on queue there was a brownout and a big afternoon thunderstorm hit. Been two days without a brownout so I guess it was time…. Oohhh well we are all watered and fed so no complaints here.

Thursday 2nd September:

Well at long last the boys will finish our Nipa Hut at the block today. Been a while but now all done. We went to see them mid morning and took them some coconut cake (fresh from the roadside vendors) for morning tea along with their wages (in cash of course). They have done a great job so now we have a place to keep the sun and rain off us when we are working there.

The final cost was P32,100 ($823 AUS at the current exchange rate) and it took 1 month to complete.

Lunch was the left over noodles and grilled fish from yesterday and it was even tastier today. Followed by a nice 1.5-hour walk up the beach and back down the road. Meet Francis (The Hot Springs manager and local developer) along the way for a great chat on all the local gossip (who’s buying what land & houses).

More sweet corn on cob on the stove for dinner. The boys turned up at 5:00pm ish to drop off their tools so Guy got them to get us 4 more Buko. Nato is the coconut tree climber and in a flash was up the tree and had our coconuts for us. They are in the fridge chilling so will make fresh Buko Juice tomorrow (we need more condensed milk).

Cherry turned up to deliver my very own Bolo (local machete) as well. The blade I bought at the market on Tuesday now has a handle, sheath and cord belt. It’s a real one, not one of those tourist trophies…. Had to laugh as the “belt” was made for a local so I will have to add another 6” to it for the “fat” westerner.

Friday 3rd September:

Early start for us (7:30am) as we are going into Boac with Laura who is making the final Land Tax payment so we can then have the block title transferred into our names. All went well and in about 2 weeks (once the tax has been cleared) we will have the title transferred over and the land is then officially ours (at long last). Wwwwooo hhhoooo……

Had lunch in Boac at the free Wi-Fi hotel so was able to upload my pics for Sunday’s blog post and a catch-up on emails.

Stopped past the market and bought a few supplies including some fresh sweet Lansones.

Back home in the late afternoon and after a “few” Lansones made a fresh batch of Buko Juice as well. In the fridge chilling now. More sweet corn on the cob for dinner with some more Lansones and just a taste of Buko Juice.

What more could you ask for.

Now I have been known to be a bit of a spreadsheet man. I keep track of everything. So since we have been here in the Philippines I have tracked our costs just to see what we can live on per day.

Now that we are settled and have a home, we are living on an average of less than P900 ($23.00 AUS) per day. This includes our cottage rent (includes power), all food, treats (Guy’s beauty pampering), Cherry (the wash, clean & cook lady) and running the Thunder Monster.  This equates to about $8,500 AUS per year. We have allowed almost double that amount so are very pleased with our living allowance calculations so far. Of course this does jump up when we go back to Manila or travel round the islands but these trips are now becoming less frequent.

Saturday 4th September:

Bit of a sleep in as it is Saturday. Then off to the market by the airport past Gasan. We were a bit late getting there as the vendors were starting to pack up but did manage to get our fresh sweet corn supplies and a few other bits.

Called into the Gasan market for some freshly cooked Pork blood jelly and sauté pumpkin with snake beans as we were going past. Bought enough for the next two days and will cook up some rice to go with it all.

Then a quick trip to the block to see our finally finished Nipa Hut. Love it and can see us spending many an evening catching the sea breeze watching the world go by.

Spent the rest of the day looking at houses. Inspected 4 existing houses and there is only 1 that we might be interested in. It is owned and built by Hans (German) who due to ill health has to move back to the mainland to be closer to medical help. It is quite big and on a very nicely landscaped block but he is asking too much at present. Definitely worth a look though.

We are still keeping our options open for the next 6 months or so as to whether we build or buy an existing house.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy