Day 261 of retirement

Hi All

Sunday 24th October:

Guy’s Mahjong day and my expat day.

First job was to give the Thunder Monster a nice fresh wash and wax. After all the wind this week she had a nice salty film covering her shiny bits, but all good now.

Dropped off Guy at the den and meet up with the usual “United Nations” gang at the Barbarossa for the afternoon. We solved the problems of the world…… Again… After a few beers were consumed.

Back home in time for a quick stroll up the beach before a light dinner.

My flu is still hanging on (chesty thing now) and it hits me in the evenings (get really tired). So had a little nap on the couch, showered and then off to bed.

Early start tomorrow as we head back to Santa Cruz for Guy to see the ear doctor after last weeks no show. Ron is picking us up at 7:00am, which is very early for us.

Monday 25th October:

Another Public Holiday today on the island so all the schools, government offices and banks are all closed. This one is for the Barangay (council) elections. Each Barangay on the island elects a Barangay Captain and his Kagawad’s (deputies). The term is for three years and you can be elected for three terms (9 years in total).

These people are the grass roots mediators in the local community for disputes as in noise, property boundary’s, squatters, drunks, parties, live stock, youth misbehavior, etc. They even have a van that travels round the Barangay collecting kids out too late and being mischievous and delivers them home to their parents.

If you have a dispute with anybody you go to the Kagawad’s first and they attempt to mediate a solution between the parties involved. If that doesn’t work you then go to the Barangay Captain and if that doesn’t work you then go to the police.

The system works quite well here in that the local community basically police themselves.

Early start for us as Ron picked us up at 7:00am and we headed for Santa Cruz to see Dr Almonte the ear doctor for Guy. Made it at 8:00am and he had arrived so all good. This is the Dr trained at Harvard in the USA and now has his practice in Manila but comes to Marinduque each Monday to see the locals (he has family here). A really nice guy in his 30s.

He saw Guy and determined that the extended use of cotton buds, over many years, to clean her ears has damaged the middle ear thus causing some hearing issues. But it is repairable given time and NO more cotton buds in the ear and he gave her some natural remedy pills that will help in the ear recovery process.

She has to go back in two weeks for a further check up so I will have my ears checked as well. His consultation fee for this was P200 ($5.00 AUS).

So to all of you who use cotton buds to clean your ears, DON’T…..

We then went exploring as we had some instructions on how to get to the Kawa-kawa waterfalls just outside Santa Cruz. Well as it turned out the directions we had were all wrong but after talking to half a dozen locals we finally found them. Great spot where they have developed a swimming rock pool at the base of the falls, which is fed and flushed by the falls’ flow. It has a large shaded walkway over the pool where you can enjoy a picnic.

We will certainly be back for a swim and picnic some day soon.

Then went bush again looking for a partly built power station (Ron is an ex power worker from the USA). Drove for ages back into the bush and finally found it. It was started a couple of years ago but came to a halt with, shall we say, some money issues (it was being funded by three private companies). So the partially built structure has just sat there all this time.

But it looks like work has recommenced and talking to one of the workers they hope that it will be producing power in 2012. Be fantastic when it come on line and will certainly help with the brownout issues.

Back to Boac for lunch and Ron showed us where you could get Bacon. So guess what was for dinner, Bacon burgers and dam they were good.

We also got eleven more Buko from Ron’s wife, Vicki, so fresh Buko juice for the next 3-4 days. Some in the fridge chilling right now.

So all in all a very busy day. Rest day tomorrow……

Tuesday 26th October:

Rest day today after our big day out yesterday. Had a leisurely breakfast watching the fishermen go by. Then headed for the Gasan Tuesday markets at 10:30am ish. About five hundred metres down the road we felt a few rain spots and looked up to see a huge storm coming our way from over the mountains. So a quick turn around on the Thunder Monster and back to the cottage.

Just as we hit the veranda down it came. Rained for an hour or so, so we decided to have lunch and a little siesta while we waited for it to clear. 2:00pm ish we headed for the market in nice blue skies.

Got all our supplies (getting good at balancing them all on the bike with the two of us now) headed home. Prepared the Pork for cooking this evening and I did a quick trip back to Barbarossa for an email check and still trying to fix their Wi-Fi connection to my MacBook. No luck yet.

Back home and we headed up the beach for our evening stroll.

Started cooking the Pork Adobo for dinner and processed some more fresh Buko Juice as well. We are freezing some this time to see how it goes. Should be okay but time will tell.

Pleasant evening as they are starting to cool down just a bit now (high 20Cs to low 30Cs).

Wednesday 27th October:

Cherry the washer lady was supposed to turn up today but at 9:00am no Cherry. We then learnt from one of the boys, who are working at the cottage today, that her husband is ill and she will try and come tomorrow. She did drop by later in the afternoon to see Yolanda and us to let everybody know what the go was with her husband. So hopefully we will see her tomorrow for our washing.

Today was “Clean up the beach day”. The weather has now settled back down to nice calm days so time to clean up the beach. I decided to pile all the debris into one big heap hoping that it will burn better. It meant carrying some of the debris some distance so I had lots of rests and drinks in between shifts.

The locals tend to make lots of small piles (so you don’t have to carry the stuff too far) but they don’t burn up very well. This is due to the debris being damp and salt encrusted from the ocean. And the humidity also makes it hard to burn anything.

Got the pile burning nicely with the addition of some bamboo and a few tree branches. By 7:30pm there were some very nice coals, just right for a good old aussie Barbie. But sadly no Barbie plate, spuds, onions, snags and steak, so I had to dream.

Guy and I went for our evening walk and I delivered another photo. The guy who was playing “air pool” was the recipient of this photo. Saw the kids playing on the street but he wasn’t there. He was inside one of the houses so they rounded him up and we gave him his pic. He was very thankful for his “action” pic and loved it.

Guy cooked up some very nice snake beans and pumpkin and pumpkin mash, which we had with rice and adobo pork from yesterday. Very yummy after a hard days work and washed down with a nice hot cup of tea.

Thursday 28th October:

Up at 9:00am ready for Cherry, the washer lady, but she was a no show. She had told us if she wasn’t there by nine she wouldn’t be coming so hopefully tomorrow now.

Guy was off to Mahjong for the afternoon with Vicki picking her up at midday. Right on midday we had a brownout. Wasn’t too bothered as I was going exploring anyway. 12:30pm ish got a call from Guy that Ron was off exploring and wanted to know if I wanted to join him. Yep happy to be chauffeured around so meet him on the road and off we went.

First stop was the Gasan cemetery. Next Monday it is “All Saints Day” (ooohh and it is another public holiday) where you go to the cemetery and honor the dead with a party at the graveside. So right now everybody is cleaning up his or her families’ graves ready for the party next Monday. You pay somebody to do the clean up or make a day of it with the family and do it yourselves.

Apparently it is quite a beautiful scene at dusk on all saints day with all the candles burning in the cemetery so I will certainly be back next Monday.

Now this cemetery is one where 99% of the bodies are encased in concrete on top of the ground (not buried). Also the entire “fence” around the cemetery, and it’s a long one, is made up of caskets stacked on top of one another and concreted in. See the pics and you know what I mean. A very fascinating place indeed and looking forward to next Monday’s celebrations.

Next stop was “Paradise Valley”. This is a private residence built by Jan (Dutch I think) who has built this huge residence back in this beautiful valley. There is a swimming pool with bar, huge house overlooking the valley, tennis court with covered entertaining area (as big as the tennis court), horse stables and equestrian yard, large monkey cage, two garages (for 6 jeeps and about a dozen quad bikes plus 18’ boat), two generators (16KVA & 8 KVA) and a man made water fall (huge pump to make it all work) with a Japanese Restaurant at the top.

Jan isn’t here at the moment (he’s back in December) but we were given a grand tour of the property by the caretaker, a really nice guy. There is a staff of about 10 who maintain the place while Jan is away. He is only here for about 6 weeks of the year. The story is he has spent about P50,000,000 ($1,250,000 AUS) on the property. It is very impressive.

Then off to Boac to get some more bacon and back home at 4:30pm and the brownout continues.

At 6:30pm (6.5 hours of brownout) the power came back on. And of course this is after we had cooked up dinner in the dark (well headlight dark) on the gas stove. Ooohhhh well good to have the power back for the evening.

Friday 29th October:

Cherry turned up at 9:00am so all good. Was a bit worried that we might have to do some washing ourselves.

Late morning we headed into Boac to catch-up with Eric (late 40s – Swiss German) who has been here for the last 18 years. Eric is the greenie in the group but he does practice what he preaches and he knows his stuff. Eric was married to a local but they separated many years ago (she moved to AUS) and he has stayed on, as he loves it here. He has 8,000sqm on the beach, outside of Boac, that is mostly mangroves. He lives in a bamboo house on the beach that is actually very nice and has a really good feel about it. He is trying to protect the beach and mangroves and educating the locals as well on how to live in and sustain the local environment.

He is also the only other gadget buff I know here who I can talk about techno stuff to. He has a DSL connection at his house so I took my MacBook along to confirm that my AirPort and Ethernet ports are working okay. I’m still having issues connecting to the Wi-Fi at Barbarossa in Gasan. Anyway was able to connect to his network via the AirPort and Ethernet connection so my MacBook is fine.

Back to Boac where I got some more of my Pics for People printed and I will deliver them as I’m out and about. Got a few supplies as well and called into our favorite bakery at the Gasan markets for a few goodies.

Been a rainy day all day today. Luckily we have been able to dodge the down pours right up until we were 2km from home. Alas we got hit by a shower and got wet but the good thing is that it isn’t cold. Bit like taking a cool shower. I have a dry bag that fits inside my pack so the MacBook, camera, phone, wallet, etc., are all kept dry.

Our washing is also getting a nice fresh water rinse as well so all good.

Saturday 30th October:

Yolanda and the boys are back at the cottage today working and they delivered us a new TV (well new secondhand). The one that was here is an old Chinese one that had really bad sound, crap picture and no remote. So Yolanda changed it over to a smaller Sony, which has good sound and picture and a remote.

We need an okay TV as we are looking at getting “Dream Satellite TV” here so we can see what is happening in the world. It even has an Australian channel with news so be good to see what is happening in our old homeland.

I made a quick trip to Joseph’s Mini-Mart (opposite the Municipal Offices & Hospital & 20km from home) up Boac way to load up the pics for the blog post tomorrow and download some email attachments. I have Broadband access in Gasan but it is slow and suffers from dropouts (okay for email & only 5km away) so currently any heavy net use it is off to Joseph’s. Joseph’s Wi-Fi is fast and stable so a quick 40km round trip is worth it for good access. Plus it was a beautiful day and 40km on the Thunder Monster is great at any time.

Hooked up the DVD and we watched two crap DVDs in the afternoon / evening. Most we have watched in one day since being in the cottage.

A very leisurely day indeed.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy

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