Well, I woke up this morning..............................

You'll be glad to know I am not going to write a blues song here but I woke up at the ridiculously early hour of 0830 or thereabouts which has given me a few hours to blog etc. before I go out later.  I have been invited to the kindergarten graduation of the four year old son of a friend of a friend and subsequent party.  Long story but it indicates that any excuse for a party in these parts is good enough.  It should be fun, it is in a little out of the way place and I will undoubtedly be the only long-nose there.  I'll let you know about it in due chronological course if I ever manage to catch up with myself.  I am now a mere five weeks adrift!

Valencia in the rain.

I am going to show you a couple of images here that give some idea of the power of nature here in it's more and less violent forms.

Bambulo remains.

I had decided to take a ride to the small mountain town of Valencia which is only a few miles bup the road from here.  On the way up, I stopped to look at the apparent building site in the image immediately above.  I don't know if I mentioned but there was a typhoon and subsequent large fatal flood about a month before I got here.

What you see is the remains of a very recently opened upmarket restaurant / resort complex that I have been given various figures of between $US 500K and $US 1 million for the construction of.  Apparently it was quite beautiful until the river that had provided the beautiful scenic location rose from 2 metres to 40 metres in the space of a day and literally washed the place into the sea.  Technically, you can get building insurance in the Philippines but it is not worth the paper it is written on so nobody bothers.  The owner is effectively ruined.

 The other image gives some idea of the rain that can fall here.  I had made it to Valencia and was wandering about when it started.  No problem there, I ducked into a little coffee shop and sat for about an hour and a half.  It came down in torrents but I had a good enough time with the locals similarly rained in communicating in broken English and FIWHASL (Fergy International Wave Hands About Smiling Language) until it eventually abated.  I paid my 40 pence or so for the three cups of coffee and two excellent cakes and decided to risk it back down to Dumaguete.

 About 2km. out of town it started again with nowhere to stop so I thought I would just plough on and dry out later.  Ploughing on ceased to be an option about two minutes later when the rain got so heavy I literally could not see through it and this in the middle of the day.  I stood under a tree, for all the good that did me, and eventually rode down to Dumaguete where I noticed the most remarkable thing.  The roads here were completely bone dry.  I went into a restaurant I know lookng like I had just walked out of the sea and it was only when I expained to my friend the waitress that I had been to Valencia that she understood.  Apparently, it is common for it to be hammered with rain whilst a mere 8km. away on the coast it is fine.

I did make a rather good discovery on the way though whilst being soaked.  I have a bit of a habit of singing to myself out on the bike, which leads to some slightly odd situations and for some reason the old Richard Harris song "McArthur Park" came into my head.  Try substituting the word Valencia in a four syllable metre Vah-len-see-ya for McArthur Park and it works beautifully.  Go on, try it now and you'll see.

Later that night I popped into a little restaurant called Jo's Inato which I had been told was good (it was) and had my first experience of a great local delicacy called Buko Halo, and here it is. 

Buko Halo.
Let me talk you through it if anybody is vaguely interested. Buko Halo is a variant of Halo Halo which is immensely popular here as Philippinos seem to have a very sweet tooth.  Let's get the pronounciation right first, it is pronounced as Hallo Hallo as in an English greeting and not as in the thing angels allegedly have floating above their heads.  In Tagalog halo means mix, so it is literally mix mix and that is what you do.  It consists of crushed ice, various jellies (jellos) and small pieces of cake all topped off with ice cream.  You basically bash the you know what ut of it until it becomes a sludge taking on the colour of the ice cream, in this case purple as it was ube ice cream.  In the Buko Halo version a buko, which is an undeveloped coconut, is scooped out and the jelly like innards are mashed up and added to the mix.  It is delightful.  You can also use your spoon to strip out slivers of it yourself.  If you really want to impress, run the two words together and pronounce it as "Bukwalo", that is what the locals do.  OK, I'm showing off.

I have puttogether a couple of posts whilst we have had one of the all too common brownouts here (scheduled power outages that they never tell you about), so stay tuned as they say.

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