Day 527 of retirement

Hi All

Sunday 17th July:

Guy off to an early Mahjong game today (10:00am). So as I didn’t get to post the blog yesterday I decided to drop her off and head for Joseph’s Mini-Mart for some Wi-Fi before the expat gathering at midday.

Now Joseph’s Mini-Mart doesn’t open till 1:00pm on weekends but if you have the password from the day before (which I did) you can access Wi-Fi sitting outside.

So arrived setup and no signal. Checked inside the window and yep, they had pulled the plug on the router. Best laid plans hey……

So I tried the USB Broadband but it wasn’t going to play either (connected but so ssslloowwww….).

So my only other choice is to go into Boac to this little hotel in the back streets as they have Wi-Fi also. But you’re never quite sure what you will find there. Sometimes they have a password, other times not. Last time we were there they told us they were going to restrict it to guests only.

Anyway rolled up and found the signal and no password required this time so connected and finally got the blog posted.

Cruised back to Gasan just before noon and meet the expat crew in Barbarossa for the afternoon.

Home at 4:00pm and settled in to watch the MotoGP race at Sachsenring, Germany. Casey Stoner came in third after a good three-way tussle for the first three places. He’s still leading the championship, which is all good.

Monday 18th July:

Off nice and early to Gerald’s for our walk. Today we are going exploring to try and get to Meadows Peak and or Jungle Peak (peaks I have named). They are these two peaks with a saddle between them that we have been eyeing off from down in the valley. One peak is covered in jungle (hence Jungle Peak) and the other has these nice alpine meadows on the summit (hence Meadows Peak).

So off we went up into the boondocks as it is still nice and dry so no muddy slippery trails (no rain for the last week). After a bit of a climb and a lot of lost sweat we made it to the summit of Meadows Peak. The view was stunning looking along the coast and out to sea and well worth the hike. We backtracked the way we came up and passed another track that looked like it goes to Jungle Peak. We will explore this track on our Friday hike.

I arrived home just as Guy also arrived back from the market. A very refreshing cool shower was superb. This was followed by a mid morning breakfast in the cool breeze and a pre lunch siesta.

After lunch we headed for Joseph’s Mini-Mart for Guy to catch-up on her email. We arrived and I spent the next 40-minutes trying to connect to their Wi-Fi. Turned out to be a router problem, which was fixed by the good old power off, power on highly technical process.

I left Guy emailing and made my way into Boac to get some pics printed for delivery to the recipients over the next little while. Arrived back and the Wi-Fi died again.

Time to head home.

Tuesday 19th July:

Trip to the market in the morning. Guy off to Mahjong at midday. After lunch a siesta then caught up with Geoff at Barbarossa for an Iced Tea. Finally off to Boac for some Wi-Fi.  And to top it all off a brownout that started at 8:00pm and lasted till ?????

Wednesday 20th July:

Brownout still on this morning. Geoff called in at 8:00am and we headed off to Boac to catch up with John for coffee. After a chat to John, Geoff and I went exploring over Santa Cruz way. First stop was at the gates to old Marcopper mining site (see below for mine history). It is 12km off the main road and a bit of a goat track in places.

You can’t get to the actual mine as it is guarded, as there are things there that the old company doesn’t want you to see. This was the site where a tailing dam breached some 14 years ago and let the cocktail of goodies into the Boac River causing a rather large environmental catastrophe.

Then back to the Kawa Kawa Falls rock pool for a swim to wash off the sweat and dust. On the way home we dropped into Dave’s (Canadian) place in Mogpog for a nice cool drink.

Home and still no power.

Thursday 21st July:

At 3:00am the power came back on some 31 hours after going off. This is our longest brownout yet but we survived (also off from 10:30am to 12:30pm (2-hours) and 3:00pm till 8:00pm (5-hours)).

So got up immediately and re-filled up all our water containers plus put every electronic device we have onto charge. Also finished off cleaning out the fridge freezer, which was well and truly defrosted by this time. All this running round made me hot, bothered and thirsty. So as Guy was up as well we had a nice cup of tea followed by a cool shower.

Then back to bed with the fan now gently blowing over us.

John called in at 9:45am for a chat and just after he left at 10:30am off went the power once again. Several rumors are floating round re the brownouts. Some say that the main generator plant has a major breakdown and the other that they have no fuel to run the engines (the fuel bill had not been paid which has happened before).

What ever the reason we have no power……..

The two main things with extended power outages (some have been for a week after a major Typhoon) is water (drinking and other) and cash.

The filtered drinking water comes from a plant in Gasan that only produces when there is power. So hence we have to keep enough reserves to last for in excess of a week. We have four 20L containers, which should last us a couple of weeks.

Other water for scoop showers, toilet and washing dishes is the main concern. The barrels we have will last us for about 2-3 days max. We have a well with a hand pump but it isn’t very reliable. I tried to get it to work this morning and no go.

You also need a good cash reserve to buy food and fuel for the Thunder Monster. You can’t use a credit card here even if you wanted to. It is all cash. The cash is dispensed through the ATM’s, which don’t work in a brownout.

The banks do have generators but they have quite large limits on withdrawals over the counter. PNB has an over the counter minimum of P50,000 ($1,200.00 AUS). So you need to keep a cash stash for emergencies.

Even though bigger businesses have generators they all need fuel to run them and after a couple of days running this becomes a whole new issue of re-fueling.

It really goes to show how much our lives depend on electricity.

And then there are your camera, laptops, Nintendos and mobile phone batteries. After a while they run flat so need recharging.

So we might need to look at more containers for our water or the ultimate solution is to get a generator so we can power up the water pump, fridge, TV, lights, etc., as required.

Friday 22nd July:

Power off at midnight last night and back on at 11:00am this morning (11-hours). Off again at 4:00pm till 5:00pm Saturday (25-hours).

Off to Gerald’s for our early morning walk. We headed for Jungle Peak and made it about two thirds of the way up and it started to drizzle. So we hightailed it down. It wasn’t getting wet that was the problem, it was that we were on a very steep clay hillside track. The track is fine in the dry but if it gets wet it is down right dangerous due to the very greasy surface.

We made it down before the track got slippery. Iced tea followed by some Earl Grey at Gerald’s was refreshing.

Zieyrish here for the washing and cleaning when I arrived home. I had filled extra water containers for the washing anticipating the brownout. But with the power back on at 11:00am all was good.

Guy and I did a market run and I also hit my local Sari-Sari store to get some fresh Coke in a glass 1L bottle for P25 ($0.60 AUS) each (tastes better than plastic bottles).

Lunch and siesta was the order of the day with more reading to follow. I am reading “The Fist of God” by Frederick Forsyth and loving it. I’m a bit of an action/thriller reader, I have discovered.

Had our first rainstorm this afternoon in just over a week. Just what we needed as it was getting awful dry, hot and humid. Nothing like a good storm to clear the air.

Saturday 23rd July:

The power came back on at 5:00pm today some 25-hours after going off. It came on briefly at 12:30am for 20 minutes so I got up and refilled the water containers before it died once again. Power off again at 10:15pm till ????

Another stormy rainy day today. A nice big storm this morning has cleared the air and cooled things down a bit so quite bearable nice today without the electric fan.

Guy off to Mahjong at midday and I went for a walk up the beach in between rain showers. I also finished reading my 5th book of the year “The Fist of God” by Frederick Forsyth.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy

Other Stuff:

Marcopper Mine – Marinduque:

The mine open in 1975 and was operated by Marcopper (Pilipino company with links to the old Marcos regime). Placer Dome (Canadian) were the owners of the mine.

The mine was predominately a Copper mine but one of the by products they also discovered was Gold. Rumor has it that the mine set up cost was recouped within the first 12 months.

They had their own power generation plant, which also feed power back into the island grid (a lot less brownouts back then). They also had their own township up at the mine for several thousand workers.

In 1996 a Tailings Dam failed and deposited 1.2M cubic metres of Tailings into the Boac River (Tailings contained heavy metals) causing a huge environmental catastrophe for those living on the river. The mine was then closed. Apparently all the equipment was just left and still stands there slowly being consumed by mother nature.

Approximately 20% of these Tailings still remain in the river some 15 years on. The other 80% of the Tailings have been cleaned up and or washed out to sea.

There are still more tailings stored on the mine site. The site is still guarded and no body is allowed to enter. I wonder why?


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