Day 289 of retirement

November 28, 2010

Hi All

Sunday 21st November:

Usual days activities today.

  • Cleaned and waxed the Thunder Monster.
  • Guy off to Mahjong. Ooohhh and no win today. Aahhhh well there’s always next time.
  • Me to the Barbarossa for the expat gathering and a very nice Goulash with mash lunch. Smaller group today so the conversations were a little more “subdued”.
  • Home in time to see the aussie news.
  • And of course a brownout to finish off the night. Early to bed then at 10:00pm.

Monday 22nd November:

Early start as Ron picked us up at 7:00am to head for Santa Cruz so Guy can see the ear doctor for the last time. About 20kms. from Santa Cruz we came across a HUGE boulder that had crashed down the mountainside and was sitting in the middle of the road.

The electricity people were there as the boulder had actually gone under the power lines but had brought down a coconut tree onto the lines. So these guys had to free the lines before any traffic could pass. Thirty minutes later they cleared the power lines.

There was a single vehicle width lane past the boulder so the Pulis did some traffic control and we finally made it past and onto Santa Cruz.

Then just up the road we came upon a crashed Jeepney (crashed 8 days earlier) that had lost its drive shaft and careered down the mountain road and failed to take a corner and plunged into a creek.

There were 21 people in this Jeepney and only 7 were injured. Nobody died thankfully. When you have a look at the pics you will see it is a miracle that nobody was killed.

Finally made it to the doctor and Guy got the all clear on her ears so no more visits required.

Quick look at the Santa Cruz port area and then back to Boac past the crashed Jeepney and the boulder (which was still sitting in the middle of the road).

Lunch in Boac and off to Gasan for coffee and a Coke. Detour on the way to look at a house that is for sale behind the airport. Found the house with the help of a local but not for us.

Caught up with Geoff at the Barbarossa (Gasan) and bought some fresh fish for dinner. Then off home for a nice hot cup of tea and a little siesta.

Has been raining pretty much all-last night and today so plenty of water about and hence the landslides (came across three more minor ones over Santa Cruz way). The Boac River is also flowing the highest we have seen so far.

Tuesday 23rd November:

Off to the Gasan markets as it is market day. Got our supplies and headed home for lunch. We had planned to go to Boac after lunch but John (the pom) turned up just after 1:00pm for a chat and stayed for over an hour.

So we decided to abandon the Boac visit till tomorrow in favor of an afternoon siesta after John left. Very nice little nap.

Later in the afternoon after the siesta, did some more landscaping work and stabilized our satellite dish which is mounted on a pipe umbrella stand. Works for me.

Got some fresh corn at the market this morning so freshly cooked corn it was for dinner. Has been a while since our last corn meal so enjoyed it once again.

Wednesday 24th November:

Brownout this morning from 7:00am ish till 1:00pm. We were going to Boac but with the brownout we decided it was too late by the time the power came back on. Also the afternoon wet was looming.

So after lunch a siesta was in order. Then I continued with some more landscaping works at the cottage that kept me busy for a few hours.

All hot and sweaty from this work so a cool shower was in order and then watched this beautiful sun set before dinner of freshly cooked sweet corn with a few other delicacies.

Thursday 25th November:

Awoke to another brownout this morning but was able to have a hot cup of tea off the gas stove. The power came back on at 10:00am so not so bad.

Guy went off to Mahjong with Vicki and Ron and I went looking at two houses that were for sale.

The first one was 2.5km off the main road on a dirt road and right next to Paradise Valley, the huge private residence we visited a few weeks ago. It consists of 5,780sqm all up including some rice paddies. The house and yard sits on a 2,000sqm plot. The house is relatively new (only a few years old) and is quite nice with big open airy rooms. It belongs to an Englishman and his local wife who have now gone their separate ways so was built to semi western standards.

And all this can be yours for P5,000,000 ($125,000 AUS). Once again nice place but not for us.

Then we headed to the “Gotti” house next to Cawit Port, which is in between Gasan and Boac. A German and his local wife own this. The house was on the market as the wife had suffered a stroke and they were moving back to the mainland for medical reasons. But the wife has made a great recovery so they are now staying on the island and in the house. Once again a nice house on the beach but not for us even if it was on the market.

We then headed into Boac and for a few supplies then back to Barbarossa for a coffee / tea before heading home. Pickup some nice freshly cooked corn from our local supermarket for dinner.

Guy arrived home and had a bit of a loss. So she is now playing tomorrow to break the cycle. Vicki had lost as well.

And of course another brownout at 6:00pm but luckily we had finished dinner by this time and had our nice hot cup of tea.

Friday 25th November:

Off to Boac and the Municipal centre to check up on the final registration of our land paper work. Seems that the one guy who signs it all off is away till the 9th December so nothing further will happen till he comes back. Ooohhhh well no skin off our nose. Will check back after the ninth.

Then over the road to Joseph’s Mini-Mart for some free Wi-Fi. Guy left at 11:00am on a Jeepney to head home to be picked up by Vicki and off to Mahjong for the afternoon. I stayed on as I was catching up with Eric (west of Boac) at 1:00pm as he has a 5KVA generator for sale so going to have a look at it. 12:30pm I headed off after downloading all my MacBook OS updates and doing email stuff.

Got to Eric’s at 1:00pm and had a look at his generator and also his “different” toilet. It is a bowl that he imported from Sweden where the government is promoting them. The bowl has a “basin” built into in the front of it to catch the number ones and then the number two’s fall down the hole at the back. Both are then caught in separate containers and emptied periodically and are used for composting.

It is very weird the first time you use it. See the pic and you will see what I am talking about.

Had a tea with Eric and then headed for the Gasan markets. Huge storm over Boac but I just managed to out run it and only get a little wet. Sun was shining in Gasan at the markets so stocked up on a few supplies including more fresh sweet corn for dinner.

Made it home for a nice hot cup of tea and a little “rest” before Guy arrived home from Mahjong and sadly no win today.

Ooohhhh and another brownout at 10:00pm so off to bed for an early night.

Saturday 27th November:

Washing day and Cherry turned up still limping. Her foot looked much better but still a bit sore. She just hasn’t been able to rest up to let it heal.

John (was here for a chat), Yolanda and the boys were also here cutting the grass and cleaning up. We combined all our food for lunch and enjoyed a nice long leisurely lunch under the Nipa hut solving all the problems of the world.

2:00pm the afternoon rains hit and lasted till 4:00pm ish.

So the only thing to do was relax and watch an afternoon movie. A nice evening walk up the beach where I took some more family pics, which I will print off and deliver, back to the family. They were having a family gathering and once the pics were taken I was offered a drink and some karaoke, which I very politely declined.

Home for a very refreshing shower and dinner.

Don’t get much better than this.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy

Day 282 of retirement

November 21, 2010

Hi All

Sunday 14th November:

Usual days activities today.

  • Cleaned the Thunder Monster
  • Picked another nice big fresh Papaya.
  • Guy off to Mahjong. Ooohhh and she had a win today so very happy with that.
  • Me to the Barbarossa for the expat gathering. Had ten expats at the gathering today (one new guy who is Iris born but worked in the USA and other places). The group is growing which is good but certainly leads to some interesting conversations on religion and especially politics, as you can imagine with a mix of Swiss, German, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, English, Irish, American, South American (El Salvador) and Aussies.

Monday 15th November:

After our hectic weekend we had a bit of a sleep in this morning. Slept till 11:00am and man it was nice. The nightly temperature is now dropping into the mid to high 20Cs so very pleasant sleeping conditions and beautiful crisp clear mornings.

Quick trip up the road to Kevin’s (Aussie from Coffs Harbor) block as he was pushing over some coconut trees for his house plot as we were going to get any Buko off the felled trees. But of course the front loader had not arrived and was not expected till later in the day (if at all). Was also very very muddy at Kevin’s block (his is rice field territory) and after some slipping and sliding we made it in and out but the poor Thunder Monster was covered in black sticky mud. Quick wash back at the cottage and all good.

Lunch was the leftover chicken dishes from yesterday and very nice they were.

Then off to Buenavista to the Lands Title office to finalize our property transfer tax. After a couple of visits to the Xerox shop to photocopy all the required paper work we left it with them to process. Should only be a few days but they will let us know once completed and what fees are payable, if any.

Everything is still done with hard copy paper here. No computer system at all. Just like the good old days back home in my youth.

Back home to afternoon tea with some nice fresh treats from the Buenavista bakery and then siesta time.

Brownout at 3:00pm ish and with it came the afternoon rain. Ooohhh well more siesta time for us. Power back on at 4:00pm.

Nice leisurely walk to the shops up the road to stock up on Coke and back along the beach admiring the sunset.

Tuesday 16th November:

Well another public holiday today (Muslim holiday). Not sure what this one is called but the government slaughters 200 cows and gives the meat to the poor. True story.

John (the pom) arrived at 8:30am to take me to meet Gerald (another pom) and Julie his wife who live down by our block. I have heard about Gerald but never met him, as he doesn’t come to the Sunday expat gatherings.

I meet Gerald and my summation of him is that he is a very English, well-educated, gentleman. He retired here about 14 years ago with his Filipino wife Julie, after working mostly in the Middle Eastern countries as a microbiologist in hospitals.

He is also a keen hiker and computer programmer so we hit it off quite nicely. I now have two fellow techo’s (Eric & Gerald) to talk shop with which is good. He has hiked this area extensively and once the wet is over (3-4 weeks) he will take me exploring into some new and existing areas. There used to be a hiking club here of expats who would go hiking weekly but it disbanded about 4 years ago. We might have to have a look at getting it going again as there seems to be some interest from a few. For you Sydney folk think SBW……

Back for lunch and we had our first Hungarian sausages (thanks Frank & Rosie) with Malunggay and green Papaya (both picked fresh from our yard) cooked in fresh coconut milk (Guy squeezed it that morning). Very very nice, in fact bloody good and all cooked by Guy.

Then off to Joseph’s Mini-Mart for some Wi-Fi as Guy had loads of emails to sort and get up to date with her school reunion blog as they are having a big reunion in December.

Back home and once again we managed to dodge the afternoon storms. Nice leisurely walk up the beach and dinner of rice and the left over Malunggay and green Papaya. Desert was ripe Papaya and Bananas sprinkled with a little brown sugar, marinated in evaporated milk and chilled in the fridge. All washed down with a nice hot cup of tea.

Wednesday 17th November:

Up and off to the Gasan market this morning for some supplies as Guy is cooking Pork Sinigang with a difference. She used Malunggay, green Papaya and Snake beans and it turned out very very nice indeed.

The boys are working at the cottage today harvesting the coconuts so we snagged four for fresh Buko.

After lunch back to Buenavista and the assessors office to finalize our paper work and pay the final P50 ($1.25 AUS) transfer fee. Well not quite finished yet. We now have to take the final copy of all the paper work to the central office in Boac where they will stamp it and then it is all done. We’ll get that done in the next few days.

Called in and saw Kevin on the way home at his block and he gave us three more Buko. And then Vicki dropped off twelve more Buko this evening. Will get the Buko factory back in operation and freeze up this batch.

We have been drinking some of the last frozen batch and it is very nice. You wouldn’t know that it had been frozen.

Thursday 18th November:

Got the Buko factory line up and going this morning. Got all the Buko processed and in the freezer so we now have a freezer full. Should last us a few days or so.

Guy headed off to Mahjong with Vicki and I headed out exploring with Ron. First stop was Boac as I needed a re-charge for my SMART Pre-Paid broadband and phone.

We then headed to the Pulis (How they spell Police here) headquarters here in Boac. Ron just happens to know a few of the local cops so we did the rounds and he introduced me to them. As Ron says, “Get to know the cops as you might just need them one day”.

Also passed the local Provincial Jail where all the inmates are busy making Christmas decorations. Believe me you would NOT want to get locked up in this establishment.

Then we headed for a house of an American friend of Ron’s (Peter & Melanie (she’s a local)) out behind the airport. Peter works abroad so Melanie is building this beautiful two-story house here on Marinduque. Had a great chat to her about island life and building here before heading home in time for dinner.

Just as we finished preparing dinner at 6:00pm ish off went the power. So at least we had a nice hot dinner in the dark.

Friday 19th November:

Off into Boac this morning to drop off the block paper work to get the final stamp. Will go back on Monday and see how it is progressing. When Guy asked when will it be ready she was informed that it will be ready when it is ready and that will be when it is ready.

Also organized our satellite TV installation for tomorrow. We have been without TV since arriving here in June and we are just now looking forward to it, mainly to see what is happening in the world. We both also enjoy the Discovery, National Geographic and other like channels. The Dream company we are going with has an Australian channel which is mainly news so will be good to catch up on what is going on back in AUS.

The cost is P4,000 ($100.00 AUS) for the equipment and P1,500 ($37.50 AUS) for the installation. Then it is P390 ($9.75 AUS) per month for the service. This is the most popular service here with the expats as it has a good coverage of other country’s news and programs (each country has its own channel). Just a tad cheaper than Foxtel back in AUS………

Guy headed off to Mahjong with Vicki and I hit Barbarossa for some slloowwww broadband access.

Ron was there so had a chat to him and as he left Geoff turned up for a coffee. After finishing my email stuff Geoff and I headed to Ron’s place as he has Dream Satellite TV and I had Ron and Geoff proceed to show me all the features including a very cool old rock radio station that is available.

Then back home and I cooked up some Adobo Pork and some of these little local sausages that you cook the same way as the Pork. These were devoured with rice and the left over Malunggay.

Guy arrived home one very happy person as she had her biggest win so far at Mahjong. So with a big win, some very yummy dinner and a cold Buko, life is pretty dam good.

Saturday 20th November:

Got an email from our dear friend Lisa P today where she noted that she enjoyed short periods of time relaxing and long periods of time running like a hamster. Guy and I noted we enjoy short periods of time running like a hamster and long periods of time relaxing. Lisa, I think we might have finally got it right……..

Cherry and her daughter arrived for the washing day. Cherry was limping badly and on closer inspection noted that her ankle was all swelled up from a sprain. I was able to give a few anti-inflammatory pills to hopefully help with the swelling and pain.

I spent the morning doing the weekly rubbish burn up. Took ages as everything (the coconut palm leaves I use to burn) is damp from the regular afternoon rains. Also did a tidy up round the incinerator and organized everything so the dried coconut palms are now off the wet ground and stacked so they drain in the rain.

The satellite guy turned up and was only about one hour late. Then right in the middle of setting up the dish the afternoon storm hit and it rained solid for an hour or so. But once the rain cleared we got the dish zeroed in and we now have TV.

Watched the AUS channel, which had the ABC news on, so was good to see some news from back in AUS. Now have 32 channels with about five that are okay. But it does this really cool old Rock Radio station with no ads.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy

Day 275 of retirement

November 14, 2010

Hi All

Sunday 7th November:

Had our first earth tremor last night. We both awoke to the cottage vibrating and a low rumble for a few seconds. Used to get these back in Cummins South Australia where I grew up so knew what it was. No damage to the cottage.

Usual Sunday activities for us. Guy is playing Mahjong for the day and I’m at the Barbarossa for the day with the expats. Had eight expat’s there today so the group is growing, slowly which is good.

Guy’s Mahjong is still up and down but she really plays for the fun and not the cash. They actually have a “high rollers” table where she plays but she and Vickie don’t play it.

Monday 8th November:

Early start as Ron picked us up at 7:00am and we headed for Santa Cruz for Guy and I to see the ear doctor again.  Got straight in and Guy got the all clear that her ears are on the mend. I also had mine checked out this time and I got a good bill of health for my age. There is a bit of deterioration but nothing serious.

We then had a coffee and tea at the Rejano’s Bakery across the road. This is the place where they bake the Arrowroot Cookies, which are a local delicacy and very nice. Stocked on some more biscuits while we were there.

We then headed for the Flintstone house over Torrijos way (the opposite side of the island to us). Now this house is the first house that Jan (Paradise Valley man) built here on Marinduque and it is built round the theme of the Flintstones. Jan sold the house about five years ago to Divine (Filipino) and Alex (Norwegian) and then built Paradise Valley.

Divine has just arrived back at the house and Alex is arriving for Xmas.

The two-storey house is built on a small cliff top overlooking the ocean and I must say it has been done very tastefully. The whole house and most of the furniture is all made out of sculptured concrete and it is built like you are living in a “modern” cave. The lights are built into the stalagmites for example.

It has a large covered veranda out front (where we sat and had tea) with a balcony on the first floor and the roof is also an entertaining area. All this facing the ocean with sweeping view of the water and also Mount Malindig to the right. See the pics. A great place and Divine is a great lady.

We stopped in Torrijos for a very nice lunch at this very cool restaurant, which is under these two huge trees with all these vines hanging down. Food was great and it was literally nice and cool sitting in the shade of these big trees and vines.

Then we headed down south and round the bottom (remote part and a bit of a goat track in places) of the island past Elephant Island (the 6 star resort on an island just off the coast) and up to Buenavista. From there it was into Gasan and Barbarossa for tea before a quick stop at the Catholic Church on the hill over looking Gasan (Guy hadn’t been there before) and off home.

Busy day so will sleep well tonight.

Tuesday 9th November:

Got picked up at 10:00am by Milton (one of Guy’s Mahjong mates) to go have a look at some “cheap” land he is selling for a friend who now lives in the USA. It consists of 3 hectares with 1 hectare being rice paddies and 2 hectares being set on a hillside over looking the rice paddies. They are asking P800,000 ($20,000 AUS) for the 3 hectares.

It is just outside of Buenavista back off the main road about 1km. Certainly is a beautiful spot but has one major problem, there is no legal access to the property. It has rice paddies on three sides and the mountains behind. So the only way to get access would be to build a road over the rice paddies. This would be the expensive part, as you would need to buy the land for the road so the owners would have you over a barrel in regards to price. Then you have to construct the road also, which wouldn’t be cheap.

Glad we had a look but not for us. Our little block is looking better and better the more we look at other properties.

Then into Buenavista for lunch to try out a new restaurant we have seen. The food was good and cheap (P169 ($4.23 AUS)) for drinks and a meal that we couldn’t finish. We got a doggie bag, which will be dinner for us tonight.

Then off to the Land Assessors Office to determine what fees & taxes we have left to pay on the purchase of our block. Turns out the final fees to pay are P50 ($1.25 AUS)). Then our “council rates” for 2011 will be P30 ($0.75 AUS). This is until we build on the block and then they re-assess the value which will then make our rates rise just a little……..

We both had a very nice little siesta at the cottage before a quick trip into Gasan for some supplies dodging the afternoon storms. Managed to make it home just as a storm hit so all good.

Wednesday 10th November:

Rained pretty much all night last night and didn’t stop till 11:00am ish. Cherry (washer lady) was due at 9:00am but due to the rain didn’t turn up.

So we had a leisurely morning followed by and equally leisurely lunch and then an equally leisurely afternoon siesta.

I arose later in the afternoon and did my weekly rubbish burn up which was a challenge due to the wet but managed, with the help of some dried coconut palms, to get the job done.

Guy and I then went for a nice long 1.5 hour walk up the beach and back down the road exploring the neighborhood.

Had dinner and watched 2 DVDs. Now that’s what you call a leisurely day.

Thursday 11th November:

Weather has cleared but still no Cherry.

Frank (Aussie) & Rosie (local) dropped in with our bacon and sausages from Manila. Rosie goes to Manila once a month to get meat supplies for Frank, as he is not keen on the local meat. So we got Rosie on this trip to pickup some goodies for us to supplement our local diet. Looking forward to some snags with rice. Where is the Barbie when you need it?

Guy does a mean bacon / rice dish which consists of bacon and rice………

At midday Guy headed off to Mahjong with Vicky and Ron and I went cruising to Boac for a few supplies and to get some cash from the ATM (which was working this time). We stopped at a butterfly farm for a look but the owner was out so no grand tour.

Finished up at the Katala Lodge (German establishment), which is just down the road from the cottage, where we had a very nice wiener schnitzel and mashed potato (dam good mash as well) for an early dinner. I walked home from there in the cool of the evening sea breeze.

Guy arrived home on dark being very happy with herself as she had a win today so got to be happy with that.

Friday 12th November:

Yesterday there was a van going up and down the road informing everybody that the power would be off today from 9:00am till 3:00pm. Good of them to let us know……

So we got up at 8:00am and had breakfast prior to 9:00am. The aim was to then go exploring on the Thunder Monster for the day while the power was off.

Cherry (the washer lady) turned up on 9:00am 3 days late. We had actually organized another washer lady for tomorrow, Saturday, so Guy had a good chat to Cherry and she will now come in and do our washing on Saturday’s as it is easier for her. All sorted now.

So off we headed. First stop was Kevin’s (Aussie) place just down the road. He has 5 hectares of hillside and rice paddies just off the main road and is in the process of building a storage shed cum living quarters where he will live and store his house materials while he builds the main house. He has a great piece of land with sweeping views of the coast from the hillside.

We then headed for the road by the river by the big bridge and turned left and rode up the dirt road through the dry riverbed and turned left by the basketball court looking for this Grotto (Catholic place of worship with a statue of the Lady of Lourdes) and garden on the hillside. Missed the turnoff the first time but after some help from the locals we found it.

You enter the gardens at the river level and wind your way up the mountainside through these jungle / gardens to the statue at the top. It is a really beautiful walk complete with concrete steps. There is a little chapel and some water features about half way up where you can take a break. It was hard going in the heat and humidity but well worth the climb for the fantastic view of Mount Malindig and the coast down Buenavista way. Got a great panoramic shot from the top.

It is a great peaceful spot and well worth the climb and visit.

Headed to Geoff’s (Pom) place but he was out so off to the Curba Grill out by the Hot Springs for lunch. Had a very nice long leisurely lunch out on the balcony on the first floor in the Nipa Hut. Nice breeze with views across the rice paddies. Even had a little siesta lying down on the bench seat after lunch. You can do that here and no one worries you. Tried to get a Halo Halo for desert but due to the power being off there was no ice so sadly no Halo Halo.

Back to Geoff’s but he wasn’t home yet so back to the cottage for a continuation of the siesta in the Nipa Hut and wait for the power to come back on.

3:10pm the power was back on so all good (actually came back on time so got to be happy with that). A nice stroll up the beach before dinner watching the sunset and the sky light up.

Saturday 13th November:

Early start for a Saturday morning as I headed to Ron’s place as he was threshing rice and I wanted to see the process. I arrived at 8:00am but they had just finished. Oh well always next time as they will be threshging again in about a week or so.

Back to the cottage as our new washerwoman arrived with Frank and Rosie so Guy got her organized. Rosie found her so delivered her to us just to be sure that everything was okay. Off to the Gasan markets for our supplies as Guy was making her famous chicken rice and also her chicken and green papaya for lunch.

I did a quick trip to Joseph’s Mini-Mart for some Wi-Fi and to load this week’s blog photos. Back for a latish lunch before heading to Barbarossa and some broadband connection so Guy could catch-up on her emails.

Home to a brilliant sunset and some very yummy chicken dishes and fresh papaya followed by some DVD viewing.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy

Day 268 of retirement

November 7, 2010

Hi All

Sunday 31st October:

Usual Sunday activities for us. Man, we actually have a “routine” for Sunday’s. Going to have to watch that we don’t get set in our ways.

Washed and waxed the Thunder Monster before heading into Gasan. Guy off to Mahjong and me back to the Barbarossa to catch-up with the expats for the day.

Usual crowd of expats and usual problems of the world solved. I introduced Eric and Ron to Vegemite. Gave them a little hotel sashay of it as they were interested. Told them to use it sparingly and not like peanut butter. We see how they going to like eating it.

Monday 1st November:

“All Saints Day” public holiday today so all schools, banks and government offices are closed.

We decided to head for Joseph’s Mini-Mart in by Boac for lunch and some Wi-Fi. While Guy was catching up on email I headed into Boac to get a Prepaid Broadband load. And of course the cemetery just happens to be on the way (where everybody goes on All Saints Day to honor the dead). Man it was packed on the road with the police having to direct traffic, well at least they tried to. But made it in and out again.

Back home for a nice cup of tea before heading into the Gasan cemetery at 4:30pm to have a look at the festivities of All Saints Day.

It was quite amazing to see all the people there with their tables, chairs, marquees, candles, flowers and picnic hampers set up in various positions round the cemetery in amongst all the “above ground” plots. They spend the day there with their relatives sharing a meal with them and honoring the dead.

Later in the day the kids go round collecting all the melted candle wax from all the gravesites. They then sell this back to the candle makers for a few Peso’s.

As the sun set all the candles glowing in the night made for a really beautiful setting. Was really hard to capture this in a photograph but I tried.

Tuesday 2nd November:

Off to have a look a two rental properties today just to give us an idea on what is available and what the prices are. Had a look at one in Gasan, which was quite good and another north of Gasan on the main road, which wasn’t for us.

Our cottage is certainly the pick of the bunch so far.

Gasan market day today so stopped in for some supplies. Picked up some Tuna steaks, Chicken and some veggies to get us through the next few days. Had a full load on the Thunder Monster coming home. Surprising how much you can carry on a bike with a backpack and a couple of shoulder bags.

Wednesday 3rd November:

Busy day today. Cherry here for the washing and cleaning day. And John dropped in with a nice freshly cooked, warm loaf of Rye bread that he had just cooked. Some cream cheese (well sort of) with Vegemite and man it slid down very nicely. This is our first loaf of bread since arriving here back on May 4th.

Bread is not a big thing here at all. You can get it at the bakery some times but they usually only have a few loaves. Haven’t tried it and haven’t missed it to be honest.

I headed to the block in the morning, as the weather has cleared, and slashed the jungle re-growth round the whole boundary line and the track in. All in all about 500m of slashing the jungle back to keep those tracks clear. I’m not really winning but I’m not really losing either keeping these tracks open. I’m just managing to keep the jungle back for now.

Then home for lunch and a very lovely one-hour siesta before heading back to continue burning up the piles of debris (vines with thorns), timber, coconut palms, bamboo, etc.) from when the block was first cleared by the boys. Some of this stuff has been chopped for two months and it is still full of water when you squeeze it, which makes it very hard to burn.

I make one big fire in a central location and drag all the smaller piles to the big one. Hard work in the heat and humidity but a great work out and cleans the pores with all the sweat you lose. And of course there is all the mosquitoes, ants, bugs, vines, thorns, caterpillars and other plants that bite, sting, grab & scratch and make you itchy. Getting a little more used to them now. Standing in the smoke of the fire helps to ward off the bugs at least.

I reckon two more days of burning after today and it will all be done, all the piles of debris will be gone. Then time to get the boys back and cut back the re-growth. It will be a lot easier this time round.

And nothing beats coming home to nice long cool shower followed by an even colder Coke on ice to watch the sunset. Then to finish off the day a really good, fresh, home cooked healthy meal of local corn and local Tuna.

Dam this retirement thing is gooooooood.

Thursday 4th November:

Guy is off playing Mahjong at midday with Vicki so Ron and I are off exploring. We headed for Boac first as Ron had to check with the bank that his pension had arrived from the USA. All good so we headed off Santa Cruz way looking for the Tarug Caves turnoff.

First stop before the cave turnoff was at a Canadian friend’s (Ray) house. They have just finished building a house over Mogpog way so it was good to have a look at what they have built. Ray is still in Canada working (he’s a mining engineer) and is due back next month but we caught up with his wife (she’s a local) for a chin wag and a look at the house.

Then off to the Tarug Caves turnoff. Found it and headed up this narrow winding cement road just as the afternoon thunderstorm hit. About 1km in the road turned to dirt and by this time it was flooded so we found a place where we could do a ten-point turn and headed back down the mountain while we could. By this time it was bucketing down.

I will return on the Thunder Monster another day and follow the track and see where it goes and hopefully find the cave.

Back to Barbarossa in Gasan for a coffee and a tea before heading home just as the storm eased.

More corn and chicken in coconut milk with rice for dinner.

Friday 5th November:

Went for a walk down to the “local supermarket” and got some freshly cooked veggies to go with lunch as Eric is coming over.

We went and had a look at the vegetation on our block first and got some advice from Eric on the placement of the house and tree planting to offer some protection to the shore front and house. And a few ideas on letting in some of the sea breeze in the afternoon through the canopy. Had a good look round and Eric had some great ideas on what to plant and where.

Back to the cottage for a nice long leisurely lunch with tea taken in the Nipa Hut as we watched the world go by for a couple of hours or three.

After Eric left the afternoon storm hit about 4:30pm ish so out under the down pipe again for a nice cool refreshing shower and hair wash. Love my “rain showers”. They are very very refreshing and not cold at all. And being the pure water that it is you can get a good soap up going.

Dinner was left overs from lunch plus a nice cold, crunchy cucumber dipped in a mixture of coconut vinegar, sugar and salt. We had a bit of the Rye bread from John left so heated it up a bit in the microwave and had it with the fresh cucumber. Very yummy.

Saturday 6th November:

Slow start today as I am still recovering from this flu thing I have. Just can’t seem to get rid of it. Been checking and no Dengue Fever symptoms so that’s good.

Our bag of Buko arrived this morning from Vicki so the Buko factory commenced production.

  • I take away the outside flesh and pierce a hole in the top and drain the juice into the jug.
  • I then split the Buko in half with the Bolo (getting better at this now).
  • Guy then scrapes out the flesh with the special tool that processes the flesh into stringy stuff.
  • Guy then holds the freezer bags while I pour the Buko and flesh in.
  • Into the freezer they go ready for drinking when we want it.

We now get a bag of Buko (11 Buko’s) at a time. We then take the juice and flesh from two Buko’s and put it into three freezer bags, which we then freeze. Three bags of Buko will also fill our drinking jug and is just the right amount for one 168ml can of Condensed Milk to sweeten. So out of our bag of eleven Buko we get four frozen jugs and one fresh jug of Buko juice.

The Buko freezes very well and once it is thawed out it gets consumed within a day anyway, so all good.

Guy had a manicure and pedicure (P80 ($2.00 AUS)) at 2:00pm so I headed to Joseph’s Mini-Mart for some Wi-Fi catch-up. Met Guy back at Barbarossa after her “appointment” and had a chat to Ron who was there having a coffee.

Home in time for a nice leisurely walk up the beach while watching the sunset followed by a very refreshing Buko juice before dinner.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy