7 – 18 January 2012
So the New Year clearly got me lazy to write and so much has been happening!
A significant change took place here in the Camotes (for me). On my trip in the city, I discussed with Felix my consideration to move out of Ondu’s house and find my own accommodation. Hardly missing a beat, Felix offered that I stay at Vall Hall resort at the same cost.
This may seem like an obvious choice for most, but I was torn. Staying with the Dalaguits have been such an amazing experience of humility, appreciation, friendship, joyful simplicity and family! They have defined my experience in the Camotes thus far. Leaving the house, for me, meant leaving this behind too. After pondering and seeking advice from people who understands my situation, the consensus was that I would stay at the resort and, on the days I need to train at the school, I would have lunch at the Dalaguit’s and sometimes even stay over there.
At the same time, I get to stay at the resort where I have 24 hour wifi access. No longer would I have to drive all the way to San Fran town and sit on the floor with no place to plug in!
So, on 10 January I moved. My new home is exceptional. Vall Hall Resort is built on the rocks, on the ocean. All rooms are separate and scattered around and in between rocks and all sorts of tropical plants and trees. My “home” is completely separated from all other buildings. The outside is all bamboo. My patio has bamboo seats and overlooks the ocean. The resort faces South, so we get a peep at the sunrise and sunset 🙂 It is beyond words.
Steps lead down the rocks and onto a small bridge and joins a bamboo hut, built on top of a rock in the ocean. It is from here that I start my daily snorkel. Since I have been getting to know the sea, I realised that there is a huge outbreak of crown-of-thorn starfish (the kind that eat coral). A healthy amount of starfish is 1 – 15 per hectare (dependent on amount of food available). In the last week or so, we have extracted a dangerous amount of 37 starfish in an estimated 30m x 15m space. The area has fantastic potential to become a magnificent snorkeling spot but it will require dedicated management. This is my next attempt at a project.
The staff here are like my sisters. Christy is the manager and working with her is two 17 year olds (Yin-Yin and Ca’rin) as well as Gi’an and her husband Te’tien. (Spelling is defo not right). The girls are funny and very entertaining.
My daily routine has changed somewhat (as can be expected). A typical day flows like this:
I get woken up at 05:30 am for a jog to town. Felix joined us too this morning! We stop in town to buy food from the market and the group walks back while I jog. A total distance of 4km might be an ambitious estimate? I’m sticking to it anyway.
I jump in the sea to cool down and lay floating for a few minutes, with a huge smile on my face.
Breakfast is served – normally an omelette with sausages or spring rolls. Delish.
The morning is spent tidying my room, maybe doing some washing or doing work-related admin in town.
If I have class, I try to get to the Dalaguits by 11am for lunch. Class starts at 12 noon and lasts for an hour. An additional 4pm – 5pm session will be added next week.
Hereafter, I try to arrange and tidy the classroom and spend an hour or so with the family before I head back to my new home.
I like to spend the afternoons removing starfish with a spear and finding new fishies! I discovered a beautiful sea slug (black and green) and two kinds of pipefish (one is brown and the other black and white with a purple tail). I also spotted a starfish I had never seen before – orange!
The evenings are spent with my laptop on the internet doing “work”. I haven’t gotten my head around getting support from local NGOs or companies but I know I will have a breakthrough soon!
Dinner is served at around 18:30.
I get handed coconuts to drink from and the milk gets sweetened and also handed to be in a glass.
We eat fresh fish – normally blue marlin, and pork, vegetable soup, etc. Yesterday we had Kinilau (raw tuna with coconut milk, ginger, onion, tomato). It’s the local sushi and delicious.
Every staff member here have been trained to give massages. It is not uncommon for someone to grab a foot or arm and massage me! Just the other night, I had one person per limb and one massaging my back – just because!
When Felix’s wife was still here, we celebrated her 50th birthday. Celebrations here would be nothing without Videoke (karaoke with videos of sexy girls in bikinis as a background). We sang the night away and the girls keep on choosing Beatles songs for me to sing. Sigh 😉 In between the singing, you can expect a back rub, foot massage, etc.
God is certainly spoiling me.
On another, more work related note:
The computer classes have been going very well. My first rule was “English only”. The teachers LOVE talking and they are apparently skilled at the art of listening while talking. They have been quite good in class thus far. There is so much to learn and very little time left! We have started with the absolute basics but everyone seems to catch on fast! PS: solitare is a great way to get comfortable with the mouse. The Mayor of Poro, Mayor Rama has agreed to provide support for the computer classroom. Step one was providing a technician to fix more computers so that I could increase the size of the classes and thus reducing the amount of “sessions” per lesson.
Classes have been paused until next week as the annual sinulog (fiesta) is taking place this week and tonight is teacher’s night! Each school is participating, representing different countries. I have a special seat with Mercedes Elementary School. The fiesta continues until Friday when the main street festival takes place. Participants are judged by costumes and dancing.
I have two homes in the Camotes now and it feels great. Either way, I am spoilt and totally taken care of by the people around me.
I will frequent this blog more often now that I am settled into my new environment.
Final thought: Felix filled up on of the pools, next to a slide that slides right into the ocean. Whaaat!!!
Wait a minute! I seriously nearly forgot! Before I left the Dalaguits, I noticed a mouse in my room. Then I noticed smaller mice following the bigger mouse…my conclusion: a nest with babies. Ondu believes that, if you get “angry” with the mouse, it will start to chew your stuff. If you stay its friend, it wont. I decided to be its friend instead…until one morning I was sitting on my bed and I heard a loud rattling noise. The sound of something that had gotten stuck. Not cool ok, my friends wouldn’t purposely freak me out (ok, debatable). Ondu came to have a look and promised to search for the nest.
I left the house for this event only to return with Ondu sitting on my bed with a Panga and a rod, slapping at a huge tail! My first reaction was RAT!!! Rat would have been better. My noisy roommate was no other than a SNAKE IN MY CUPBOARD!!!! Ondu eventually killed it. WTF!!! Ondu also found the mouse nest…with no mice. We assume the the snake had eaten all of them, and, when he ran out of food, he tried to digest a shoelace! I can only imagine this is why it was making such a noise, the shoelace must been lodged in its “throat”. *shiver.