Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Coming Storm

Thursday, June 19--We check out of the Gardenia Hotel. Our plan is to spend a couple days in Sorsogon, a town down the coast from Tabaco, and spend a day at Rizal Beach, near Gubat, a smaller town near Sorsogon. We've had a nice stay in Tabaco, but it will be good to get Fran away for awhile. She's been trying to please not only us, but also her host family and her principal. Away from Tabaco, we'll have her all to ourselves.

Fran gets us a van and driver, and we head for Sorsogon. It's some ride! In the Philippines, lines on the road and signs by the highway are just suggestions. Our driver passes vehicles even on blind uphill curves and uses his horn at every opportunity. Slower vehicles--jeepneys and trikes--scoot over and allow us to pass. The two-lane road becomes a three-laner at times. People--men, women and little children--walk on the shoulder, right next to the highway, as we zip by just inches from them.

In Sorsogon, we check into the Villa Isabel, a beautiful hotel on a back street. We have lunch and finally sample some San Migs--San Miguel beer, made in the Philippines. It's pretty good, especially on a hot day, and every day is hot here.

We walk downtown. A pili nut festival is going on. We've had pili nut candy before, sugar-glazed pili nuts. They're yummy. As we walk along the street, I look down into the gutter--a small water-filled ditch, actually. I see a thick electrical cable snaking through the water, and I wonder about the average life expectancy of Filipino electricians.

Friday, June 20--Fran has been texting busily. The Peace Corps has told her a typhoon is in the area. It's named Fengshen by the international body that keeps track of these storms, but it's Frank in the Philippines. Originally, it was supposed to scoot along off the coast, east of the Philippines. Now, we're told it's heading straight for us. But no one seems concerned. Many typhoons hit the Philippines each year, and unless the storm is especially potent, they're not a big deal--to Filipinos, anyway. Fran doesn't seem too concerned, either. So, instead of a day at the beach, we just plan for a day of hanging around the hotel, maybe taking a walk into Sorsogon, too.

The breakfast menu at Villa Isabel includes scrambled eggs and bacon, ham or sausage--and pancakes. Fran cautions us not to get our hopes up about the pancakes. She says we'll almost certainly be served corn syrup, not maple syrup. But, surprise! The waiter sets a small cup of maple syrup on the table. Fran is impressed!

In the evening, Fran and Ed go to a pizza place with Aaron and Whitney, two Peace Corps volunteers that live near here. Di and I go to bed and hope that the approaching typhoon is not too nasty.

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