The Front gate
Squish is finally home
We arrived at Bicol (the region) and then Guinobatan (home of Squish's ancestors ) after dark and so my introduction to this area was sans a view of Mayon. Nothing was to prepare me for what I saw the next day. I've seen photos, Google Earth 3D models and thought wow as any of you at MPL are fully aware, but NONE OF THEM do any justice to just how imposing this majestic mountain truly is in real life. It is truly inspiring and why there are not poems and legends etc written is beyond me. Perhaps there are in Tagalog – don't know. At this stage I've refrained from posting any pics of it, because I am yet to take one that I feel shows anything of the glory of this remarkable feature. Unfortunately, the days are mostly hazy and not conducive to taking quality snap – most of those I've posted to date I've had to tweak the 'tone curve' in GIMP to overcome the problems associated with glare and haze. Hopefully I'll get a chance to get 'THAT SHOT' before we go.
Before we left Oz, Squish expressed some concerns about my comfort in the provinces. I
A Warm Welcome
Two of the young girls living with us
said that as long as the room is air conditioned (for the humidity more than the heat) and had a fridge to keep drinks cold (OK let's be honest – my BEER) then I'd be OK. I thought she'd take this on board and book accom accordingly. As it turns out, instead she had upgraded one room in her ancestral home and put glazed tiles on the floor, an air con in the wall and a bar fridge in the corner. We also have a foam setee which folds out to a mattress on the floor for sleeping. The room is approx 6x7 foot and is comparatively luxurious to the rest of the house. Apparently this room is our permanently and is locked after we leave until we come back next time. Dunny, shower and laundry are all outside and Spartan. Shower consists of a large bin with water in it and a small hand bucket you dip into it and pour over yourself whilst standing on a rough concrete floor. This same system is used for flush the loo as well – the only difference is that your pour the hand bucket into the toilet instead of over your
Enter the gate and turn left and you're greeted by this little grotto or shrine
In spite of all this, Squish's family bend over backwards to make us comfortable. Our laundry is done and room cleaned and tidied before we get a chance to lift a finger. Squish tells me that this is normal because she is the oldest sibling, and because their parents are both long gone, she is considered the matriarch of the family and this sort of respect is normal and to be expected. Somehow I suspect she enjoys being lauded over.
So . . . . day one in Bicol and guess what – more ^%$#@* shopping. This time in Legaspi City. I'm over it quite frankly (hey Rory bet you never expected to get a mention in here). Day two (yesterday) and it was a photo shoot for the re-Wedding; two and a half hours poncing around a wildlife park in front of photographers with video and still cameras. That was fun . . . . . what every bloke dreams of . . . . . yeah sure. After that we went to the church where it's all going happen on 1/11/11. We had to fill out a Pre-nuptial “INTERROGATION” form and were then each interviewed
Down the side
This is the walk to our room. The front two rooms are occupied by Squish's brother - the next is a communal area
by the priest. When he discovered I was not a regular church goer we seemed to hit a road block and he spent the next 15 minutes trying to 'convert' me. In the end – he said he had a funeral to to attend and that we'd have to come back.
Went to lunch in a local food place in Guinobatan market. I think I had the first Filipino food I really enjoyed with a Gusto. Bicol Express, pork and chilli cooked in coconut. Perfect for people like Juzzie – your taste buds dance the tarantella for about two hours after eating it. The other dish was called Almondegas . This is essentially a chilli pepper stuffed with minced seasoned chicken, lightly floured and pan fried. Absolutely delicious (again, a little firey). Last night the girls (teenagers not adults cooked another dish for me) Siopao which consisted of shredded mixed veg and a little pork – also very nice. For all the fancy restaurants we've eaten at in our time here – this local fare is by far the best food I've had here. Both delicious and inspiring (most of you know my love affair with the kitchen).
this is the relaxation area - I believe NYE will be held here
Day three and it's raining. Squish has gone with her brother to the medical centre to get his rabies shot/booster (he was bitten a couple of weeks ago) so I'm writing this blog with the hope of uploading soon. The rain doesn't do much for washing the humidity from the air – it simply adds to it.
One final note – stuff here simply happens with a minimum of fuss. Each morning the women and girls wander about cleaning and tidying. Even the earthen walk ways are swept and rubbish picked up. I've also noticed that the same happens out on the road with verges being swept and cleaned by local residents – everybody does their bit. There is a remarkable pride in these people and by that I don't mean a vain sort of pride, simply the sort personal and civic pride. They don't have much, but what they have is theirs and they wish to make it as special as possible.
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