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