Wednesday, June 18--I get up and throw on some clothes and head out of the Gardenia Hotel on my own, on a mission to get some donuts and some fresh-brewed coffee. Di has been drinking instant so far this trip, but I'd spotted a Mr. Donut on Fran's map of Tabaco City. Determined to brave the streets on my own, I plunge out the door of the hotel and into the pounding heat and humidity.
I walk past the food market and make my way to the main street--Ziga Avenue, by Fran's map. A parade is inching its way down the street. I stop and watch one of the many marching bands. The bands are like any U.S. high school marching band, and for a second, it's easy to forget I'm in the Philippines.
I've been disoriented in Tabaco. There's something about the streets that makes me lose my sense of direction here, and even with Fran's map, I have to backtrack several times before I find my way to the Mr. Donut. Inside, it's like any convenience-store donut shop in the U.S., but staffed with Filipinas. I buy a dozen donuts and some coffee, and I head back.
Today, we take a jeepney to Malilipot and then walk up a country road to Busay Falls. As we walk past several homes, Fran points to the rebar sticking up from the concrete walls. Many Filipinos build this way so that they can add a second floor later when they have the money. Fran also points out that few of the houses are painted. Exterior paint is a mark of wealth.
We walk under the beating sun past rice paddies and into a cool, shaded valley. Busay Falls pours down into a shallow pool, cooling the air. We spend an hour or so enjoying the break from the heat.
After heading back to town and cleaning up, we go to Helga and Leo's again for a good-bye meal. Helga serves up a feast--baked fish; curried chicken; Bicol Express, a pepper, coconut and pork dish; a fruit salad; and several other tasty dishes. Afterward, we say our good-byes. Fran flags down a trike. Di, Fran and Ed climb aboard, but I have to step onto a tiny platform on the back of the sidecar, lean over the top, and hang onto a couple of rails on the roof. It's a fun ride back into Tabaco.