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...!
A good day for nimble feet and minds
6 days ago