Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Pleasures of the Day

*Wind moving through a Cauayan grove
*Water gurgling down a rocky streambed
*Being called to dinner
*More pictures than words in a blog entry

Jeepney of the week:

Kevin just wandered by and informed me that he already used this jeepney shot. Can't help it if I recognize a good one.

Hello from Cebu--it's hard to believe this blog entry started a month ago; if I was paid to keep a blog I'd have already been fired. Things being as they are, today's adventure entry is the exception not the rule.

We love poking around out in nature, just seeing what's out there that's interesting and pleasing, but keeping up on our office and teaching responsibilities is our top priority, so we fit these excursions in when we can. We usually have an outing on our radar screen; kind of helps us stay refreshed to get out and tromp around.

Saturday, February 13, 2010—Destination: Lukob Cave and Falls, Balamban, Cebu.

Kevin, Kaikai, Eduardo and I headed out at 5:45 this beautiful, tropical morning. Due to our office and apartment location nestled in the middle of the city, we rarely get to see the sun crest. This was my morning! It does my soul good to see that first diamond of light.

It takes about an hour to drive over the mountains to the west coast of Cebu. It is an easy drive in a good vehicle, though the road is steep and windy after you crest the mountain ridge.

“The very top” begs for a pause. Looking west you see the shipyard in Balamban where they build small ocean craft such as ferries. Our “pause” was Kaikai’s first opportunity to practice his craft. He’s actually quite an accomplished photographer but he had some things to practice in mind, such as fast shots. Here he’s shooting toward the east, our recent path.

The technicalities of the business were discussed and taught. I’ve already voiced a desire for a bigger camera, right?

This is Eduardo. He is a retired history teacher who also walks in Beverly Hills. He is very well read, very fit and adds to the lively conversation that makes our walking time fly by.

At this point I relinquished our point-and-shoot camera and Kevin became shooter #2. My job here on out was to be in the pictures. Eduardo helped shoulder this responsibility.

A welcome sign this significant seems like it ought to be at the entrance of a booming city; Balamban is a cozy town. The arch is actually a good way up the mountain. You know when you drive through the arch that you're over the top. Before you get to the top you pass fresh vegetable stands and live plant merchants like Jesusa. (I should have pictures of these—their plants are a fabulous live quilt bordering both sides of the highway.)

We arrived at the designated start point, having picked up Sister Fuller, (red t-shirt) one of the Senior Sister Missionaries serving in Balamban. We also had local guides, Nini, Jun & Bro. Saavedra, which seemed nice but we weren’t convinced until we arrived at the falls that we really needed them. Oh well—when in Cebu do as the Cebuanos do.

It’s a good idea to ask for angels to attend all explorations, whether they be urban or nature.

We started on a road that veered off onto a trail. Call it a rural sidewalk.

Now put that cell phone away! Just BE where you are.

Our first creature of note was a carabao (that’s pronounced CARE a bow) and its baby. They are used extensively for farming here—plow pulling (wait till you see the picts. at the end of the entry) in regular fields as well as rice paddies. The happiest carabao have a mud bath every day. They are mild-mannered, hard-working beasts of burden that I have a soft spot for. Maybe I’ll get to ride one before we come home…. Sorry this mamma's face is in the shadow--quite a look she gave us, though not as ferocious as the head position would indicate. Do I look like that when I’m looking over my glasses? Hmm. Middle-aged carabao?

Baby Beast of Burden

Our general path was up the riverbed, but Nini and Jun knew the faster way, which was sometimes in the riverbed and sometimes crossing it to a shortcut. As you can see, it wasn’t a roaring river at this point. Part of the water from the falls is dammed and diverted for irrigation.

There was quite a bit of picture taking of the one taking pictures.

Sister Fuller and I wore hats and Nini carried an umbrella that she put up every time we were in open meadows. Filipinas carry umbrellas for shade purposes as much as for rain protection.

This is the source of Day’s Pleasure #1. These bamboo stands dot the landscape, both in cultivated landscapes and nature. The arching canes are characteristic. The sound of the breeze through them—think of a pine forest in a breeze, then move it to the tropics. Ahhh.

We crossed and recrossed the riverbed. Was it always the same riverbed? Hmmm. Don’t know. After about an hour of walking we came to this spot and knew we were getting close.

Do they shop at the store as well as wash their clothes on Saturday, getting ready for Sunday? In a shady spot like this laundry would be a pleasure.

Nature’s drying rack.

Leapin frogs! Look at this little guy! There were lots of them in the riverbed as we were approaching the cave.

This one really wanted to make friends with me. I caught it mid-jump in my hat, then forced it to have a photo moment with me before I turned it loose again.

This is the place. Most of us shifted a bit—shoes to sandals or pant legs up. It was a most pleasing spot to just sit:

Snacks, anyone?

Looking back down the river from the mouth of the cave.

Let’s check out the rock formations inside.

Now how are we going to get up there?

Big rocks. Very big rocks.

Sister Fullmer is a high energy missionary mom. Her youngest son is serving in Virginia right now.

The expedition crew: L to R—Nina, Jun, Sister Fullmer, Sister Reed, Bro. Saavedra, Kaikai, Eduardo & Kevin

For serving with 120 young missionaries, you've probably noticed that our adventures don't include them. Our preparation day is on Saturday and theirs is on Wednesday.

Time to head back.

We stopped for fried bananas and a visit at a little store.

Sister Fullmer is an avid camera clicker too.

A carabao spa. There were seven lounging on the banks or in the water.

The trail took us through this farmer’s field. Maybe this was my chance to ride a carabao. Yes? No. Rats. I’m ready when the opportunity presents itself.

“Can I try plowing?” Sure.

It’s harder than it looks.

The plowing duo on the return round. The carabau accepted this unskilled plowboy pretty well.

You’re still alive if you want to try new things.
See ya in the next adventure.
Kevin & Ann