Saturday, May 19, 2007

Door to Beach

A Photographic Blog: a series of photos taken between my place and the beach, starting with the view from my balcony.

Leaving the building...

This little boy was very interested in me taking photos and passed by on his bike a few times! He was too shy to speak to me, however!

My neighbour keeps [and trains] fighting cockerels. Terrifying birds [grin] but thankfully not as noisy as the ones in Malapascua.

Men at Work! They're building a new drain under the street. Will be nice - there was an open ditch there before - not pleasant on a warm day!

This 'Lagoon' [that's what they call it!] also smells! And someone is building a very posh-looking restaurant right next to it! Does the Developer not know?!

This is The Road!

A food stall... could even call it a drive-thru food stall!

Yes indeed! We do have a ferris wheel... kind of! It's smaller than most houses!

A "barhoop" seller [I am not sure of the spelling]. It's a health drink, which I think is made from Soya. It's popular in the morning and you hear the sellers walking the streets, calling out "BarHOOOOOP"!


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Positive Thinking

First the book... then, inevitably [grin] will come the movie!

Thanks M@! Class - I love it!

Right, so all I've got to do now is a write a damn book...! [sigh]

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


I started my day with a Filipino breakfast - you have to be in the mood [smile]: Longanisa [a sweet pork sausage - tastes like chorizo fried in honey], garlic rice and a fried egg. Yummy! For dessert I had a stack of pills for my ears. [I'm on steroids! I keep thinking about Jeff Wode's head!] Then I had some jobs to do.

I am looking for a place to live at the moment. It's always hard to find a new place, wherever you are, although in some ways it's much easier here. The Filipinos are, as I have said many times, some of the friendliest, most helpful and accommodating people you could ever want to meet: the moment I mentioned to a few people that I was looking the messages starting flooding-in to say that someone's friend/uncle/cousin had a place I should look at!

However, the problems are as follows:

There are no road signs in Boracay. This is because there are only two roads: the first, known as The Road, runs from the Port at the S-Eastern tip, about two thirds of the way up the Island until... well... until the end of The Road, basically. About halfway up The Road is a right turn which leads to Bulabog Beach and then up The Hill. This is known as The Bulabog Road.

Of course these are not the only thoroughfares - oh no! Leading off & beyond both roads is a whole network of dirt tracks and alley-ways, which is where everyone lives. Most of the alleys are about 2-3m wide and passable by motorbike, some are winding tracks through the grass, others are tiny alleys between the houses. These can be alarming: only children can pass one-another easily. For adults if you meet any on-coming 'traffic' it is a fairly intimate encounter [I often feel I should, at the very least, introduce myself first!] involving sticking to the wall Spiderman style and squeezing past apologetically.

Since none of the alleys have names the locals find their way around using local landmarks. This works since everyone around here knows each other, and knows where everyone else lives. If you're a new kid in town, it's hard.

Today I went to look at a place which I knew was near The Bulabog Road. I started by texting the landlord [everyone text's here - texts are cheap, phone-calls are not] whose name, charmingly, was Dudes. We arranged a time and confirmed the price [the 'first price' obviously - there's always room for negotiation!] then came the tough bit - directions.

I decided to phone:

"Walk down the Bulabog Road," he said, "past the swamp" [not kidding], "look for the little Church," [it was a shed] "then turn right down the alley next to my Uncle Ronnie's house..."

"aaah. What does your Uncle Ronnie's house look like?" I asked. There was a pause.
"You don't know Uncle Ronnie?" he sounded surprised.
"Ummm, no" I replied, slightly bemused, I have never met Dudes!
"But he is the Uncle of your friend Noel also!"
"What? Noel?!" [I do have a friend called Noel, we work together.]
"Yes! Noel is my cousin!"
"Noel! Your friend! From work!"
"Yes, yes, I know Noel! But how do you know where I work?"
"You are Jane, right?"
"And I think you are English?"
"So you are Jane, the new English Instructor who works with Noel! Flowers!" [I have a tattoo of flowers on my back]
"Aaaah, right, yes"
"So you know Uncle Ronnie?"
"No, I've never met him."
"Oh! Then you must come round!"
"That would be lovely, but for today - what does his house look like?"
"Oh don't worry, I ask him to sit outside. He knows you!"
He did, nice chap!

Every house I visit it's like this! After Dudes place I went to see two places owned by Oscar. We met at his daughter's Cafe. Oscar was surprised that I didn't know where Bing's Cafe was. "Just down the alley!" he said, "by the green 3-storey house!" I found the house easy enough - 3 storey's! Not many of those around! The alley involved walking through someones back garden - under the washing line, carefully manoeuvring past a gang of fierce Warrior Cockerels and climbing over some building materials. Being careful not to wake the man sleeping on top. And I didn't like the room.

Next, I had to buy a new watchstrap - mine snapped at breakfast. I was directed to KC's place ["Just down the alley! The one by Jo-Jo's house! What? You don't know Jo-Jo?! But he is the cousin of the husband of your friend Anna-Lou!"] KC makes hand-made flip-flops on an ancient hand-powered sewing machine. English readers may well have seen one, if you've ever been to a Museum about the Industrial Revolution.

He took my watch and compass and threaded them onto a thin piece of binding, he then mounted them onto a thicker piece of binding, stitching it all carefully. I explained I was a diver and that if the strap came loose I could loose my watch into the depths. He emptied a sack full of clips, in various sizes, onto the floor. We found one the right width, but it was very chunky. He produced a very sharp blade and pared it down to the right thickness - perfectly! The strap then looped through the clip and Velcro was added, made to measure for my wrist. Finally he stitched an extra 'catch' on the end so the strap couldn't slip back through the clip. Brilliant! I have a perfectly designed, beautifully made, diving watch strap, with integrated compass! It took half an hour and cost me a pound!

Later this afternoon I am meeting Noel to go and see his Uncle's [not Ronnie] friend's place. Aparently, it's just off The Road, near the bike shop - you don't know where is the Bike Shop?! But it's owned by the brother of Junas, who you know from...!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


There is a brand of condoms here in the Philippines called "Fullup"! [chortle] They come in two varieties: "Zero Wrinkly" and "Tony Wrinkly"

I have no idea what this means!

Monday, May 07, 2007

At the Clinic

I went to the Doctor last night [I've hurt my ears - boo.] The doctors here are excellent but the clinic is bereft: one tiny room which opens onto the street, in the corner there is screened cubicle for examinations. But other than that there's no privacy, no space, the patients sit on two benches, whilst the doctors sit on a plastic chair in front of them. We all listen to each others complaints and sometimes other patients will contribute their own thoughts on whatever ailment is being discussed. It is embarrassing and can be uncomfortable, but there is also a certain amount of solidarity between the sick!

On really busy days, the nurse will put a couple of plastic chairs on the pavement outside, where she will take blood pressure, etc, before the patient goes inside. Children often gather to watch.

Last night, however, there was only one other patient besides me: a little boy, about 7 years old, who had stepped on a Sea Urchin. It was awful - he was screaming. I don't mean frightened or frustrated screams... I mean real screams. Screams and sobs of pain and bewilderment. At one point he was shouting at his mother, who was also sobbing, I think he just couldn't grasp what was happening to him. I don't speak Tagalog, but I am pretty sure he was saying something like "make it stop".

An older lady, Grandma I expect, was also with them. When the mother couldn't cope anymore she stepped in to hold the boy still. He tried to fight her, to break free, but she silently gripped his wrists, whilst tears streamed down her impassive face.

The Doctor was very calm and patient, but I could see she was also becoming distressed by the situation. The little boys foot was starting to turn black and there were still spines to remove. He was getting more and more distressed, he was drenched in sweat, his hair sticking to his face, he eyes were becoming bloodshot and his distress was making it hard for him to breath. But the Doctor couldn't give him a break - the longer the spines stay in the more effect the poison will have.

In the street outside was a group of children - friends, brothers and sisters - silent brown faces with dark, round eyes. The littlest ones were trembling, but none of them ran away, they all stayed. There were others, people who had heard the screams as they walked by and stopped to see if they could help. The three women who run the food stall on the corner closed down and came and sat with the children. The nurses put some chairs out on the street and and a tiny girl, no more than three, curled up on a chair, sucking her thumb, with her other hand wrapped around her head, to shut out the noise.

My doctor, Jonas, grimaced at each new scream while we talked and he examined my ears. Before I left I asked about the little boy: "one more spine to go" he said and shrugged, "there's not really anything else we can do." I asked how frequent were Sea Urchin injuries. He said this was the ninth this month, but usually it's adults, "at least they understand" he said.

"Tonight," he gestured towards the boy and lowered his voice "only three spines. Two weeks ago, a man came in, I must remove 33 spines from his feet, it take more than 3 hours, " he shook his head sorrowfully, "but he will be OK.

The strange thing is, as a diver, I see Sea Urchins everyday. They are no threat to me: I am not standing on the bottom and they don't move [during the day]. I quite like them. They are pretty - often the colours are beautiful. I know they are poisonous and I always warn my customers not to touch them. But really I don't give them much thought. I think I'll see them differently now.