Best day so far. As I mentioned, the wife’s cousin Roding gave us a good price on a beach rental and what a price it was – about 30 bucks a night for an air conditioned room (with a flush toilet and a shower!) right on the beach. In addition to the room, there’s also a couple little huts and a big barbeque/karaoke area for parties so the wife’s whole family and a bunch of friends came for the day and what a party, everybody had such a great time. We got there in the morning, about 20 people packed into 3 tricycles and met Roding and a couple others on the way. The wife went off with her father to get food and beer while her brother in law went to get some stuff for the barbeque. All in all, we ended up with enough food and drink for at least 30 people - fresh vegetables, chicken, fish, seafood, fruits, beer, brandy, etc – for less than 100 bucks, it was unbelievable. The kids hit the sand and the water right away while the rest of us fired up the karaoke machine. For those not in the loop, let me tell you about Filipinos and karaoke: THEY ARE INSANE. They just cannot get enough and they don’t care how bad or how funny they sound or if they can even pronounce the words, they just keep belting them out one after the other. Watching a bunch of Filipinos who can barely speak English singing karaoke is by far one of the highlights of my life so far. First up was one of the wife’s uncles singing “Johnny Come Lately” by the Eagles, then her father with his rendition of “I Can’t Stop Loving You”. Cripes it was just so much fun watching it all. I’m not a big karaoke guy but in a group with a lot of people having fun, I’ll certainly spend my share of time rocking the mic...after I get a few beers in me of course. Eventually the beer arrived and I cracked one open but here’s the problem: the cold that I’ve been suffering from has rendered my voice practically unusable for karaoke. The first song or two I was ok but as the night went on it got worse and worse and eventually I could not sing a note without my voice cracking like Peter Brady singing “Time to change”. The funny thing is that I guess since I’m a native English speaker I’m like a celebrity and everybody kept asking me to sing certain songs – “Seeng dees one! Seeng dees one!” - so my voice seldom got a break. The highlight was when I did “Copacabana”…brought the house down. I kid, but truthfully some of the Filipinos there could actually sing pretty good. One of the guys that came was the guy who gave us a ride in his tricycle the day we first arrived. His name was Cesar and from what people tell me, he is known as somewhat of a ladies man around the Barangay even though he’s in his 40’s. He’s got his own karaoke machine at his house so he could handle a few of the tunes really well. He did an excellent job with “Quando Quando Quando”.
The food was nothing short of amazing. We had plenty of fresh fish on the grill, plenty of prawns, some chicken, even some huge squid that the wife sliced up and served with some chili dipping sauce. Plenty of fresh fruit too, mostly lanzones and rambutan, neither of which I’d ever even heard of before coming here but am quickly getting addicted to. This being the Philippines, people come up to you constantly trying to sell you stuff and at one point someone came by selling fresh oysters and we bought the whole lot. It was like 3 big buckets full, at least 4 or 5 pounds and the whole thing cost about 2 bucks. I remember back in Germany, the wife loves oysters so we would occasionally splurge on a few for her at the Nordsee fish store and we paid a euro and a half for ONE freaking oyster - same price we paid for about 50 of them here! And these were fresh out of the water. Man, I could get used to this…
We also got a visit from the ice cream man this morning. He came up ringing his bell and all the kids wanted ice cream but instead of the 5 pisos that the guy back in the provinces charged, this guy was charging 15 pisos each. I started to order a few for the kids but everybody quickly stopped me and told me not to because 15 pisos was just too unreasonable. Now, the American in me reasoned that 15 pisos is still only about 30 cents and that’s pretty damned cheap for an ice cream but the Filipinos would not allow me to pay such an exorbitant price for ice cream. So I figured I would meet them halfway and told the guy that if he would give them to me at 10 pisos each, I would buy them. He declined initially but when it was clear that he had lost the sale he agreed on 10 pisos. I prepared to pay…and once again the Filipinos would not allow it. Even 10 pisos was too expensive! My God, I could not believe it but I didn’t want anybody to get pissed off at me (except the kids who didn’t get their ice cream of course) so I just told the guy to forget it. He stayed there for a good 15 minutes trying to get me to buy them at 10 pisos each and I kind of felt bad but sorry guy, maybe next time…assuming there are no Filipinos around the witness the transaction.
One thing that kind of sucked is that I couldn’t spend much time in the sun because every time I’d go out in it, it would feel like I was being burned really badly. I’d look in the mirror and I wouldn’t even be a bit red so I’m guessing this is what the doctor meant when she told me the malaria medication would make me ultra sensitive to sunlight. Next time I come here I think I’ll forgo the malaria medication, I really don’t think there’s much chance I’ll catch it here and it’s already hot enough without taking medication that makes me even MORE sensitive to sunlight for crissakes. Besides, so far it looks like I’ll be going home after 2 weeks in the Philippines with my skin just as white as it was when I arrived. *Sigh*.
Luca and the X Man just absolutely had a blast playing in the sand and in the water. I’m not sure when I’ve ever seen them so happy. I remember growing up, my dad would take us to Hampton Beach every summer to visit our grandparents who spent a couple weeks there and how much I loved it there, playing in the sand and frolicking in the waves. I imagine the X Man is enjoying it just as much here. The beaches near us in Italy are overcrowded and really expensive so we don’t normally bother but after seeing how much he loves it here, we might have to start. He doesn’t burn very easily too, he gets dark like the wife. Lucky bastard.
A little later on, Roding and Audie came by to join the party which ended up going late into the night. The wife’s father had invited a bunch of his friends to join us and everybody was drinking beer and brandy all day and since it was getting late I told Roding that we’d take another room so anybody who didn’t want to drive back home could stay overnight. At 30 bucks a night, that was a no-brainer for me. Everybody was having so much fun, it would have been a shame for the party to end because people had to go home. A few people did leave and the crowd thinned a bit as those who couldn’t run with the big dogs went to bed but we still had quite a few people late into the night. At one point Audie got on the mic and did an unbelievable version of “Superman (It’s Not Easy)” by Five For Fighting. Probably the best performance of the night, I was floored. I could hardly sing with my voice all cracking but someone put in “Living Next Door to Alice” and shoved the mic in my face. I’m not sure if anyone knows that song but the guy who sings it has a real gravelly voice so I completely nailed it, sounded just like him! Unfortunately, although the song was popular, nobody knew the “live” version so when I got to the end of the first verse and yelled “ALICE? WHO THE #@$% IS ALICE?!”…well, let’s just say I was the only who yelled it. And I yelled it very loud. Some people started laughing but I got the sense that most were afraid to sing that part because the wife’s mother was present. Definitely a “you had to be there” moment but still hilarious. Of course, the FUNNIEST thing happened this morning; they had gotten some ice for the drinks but ice here comes in huge blocks. So they put it in the cooler with the drinks and the wife’s brother Zaldivar was chopping it with an ice pick and while he was chopping he accidentally hit the big plastic bottle of Sprite which started spraying everywhere. I started cracking up but as if that weren’t funny enough, he grabbed the bottle and picked it up and as he did so, the wife’s father comes walking up and the bottle sprayed all over him and he reacted like he’d just been shot. My God, I laughed so hard I started crying. The look on his face was just priceless.
Roding was telling the wife about a lot nearby that someone was selling and supposedly the price is real cheap. I dismissed it originally as the last thing on my mind is buying property here but I told Roding to come by tomorrow and we’ll go look at it, if only to appease the wife. As an American here I am a bit leery of people trying to sell me things, even if he is family. I think it’s somewhere around a million pisos which is about 20k but I’m sure it needs a lot more put into it as that sounds pretty cheap for a place right on the beach. Then again, it is the Philippines so you never know.
Well, this day has just been fantastic. When I knew I was coming here, the thing I wanted most was to spend some time on the beach and it has certainly not disappointed - these Filipinos sure know how to party! Especially after the provinces, this place just seems like paradise. Since it’s the rainy season right now the whole beach is practically empty but it’s still so hot that it’s like we have the whole beach to ourselves. I’m told it gets completely packed during the summer months and there are plenty of western ex-pats around but haven’t seen any yet. Right at this moment I’m about as relaxed and content as I’ve ever been. We’re hoping to come back every year so to visit and if I have my way, we’ll be staying here at the beach most the time since it's so damned cheap. Luckily the wife’s family lives a mere 30 minutes away so that is definitely doable.
Sad to see this day come to an end. Still no snakes…