I awake early, 4:58 am, I am back on the deck with a cup of coffee enjoying the breeze waiting for sunrise. Lyn joins me and we have a good laugh that it is still another hour or better before sunrise. Who cares, we can take a nap later in the afternoon. Just enjoy the breeze and fresh air. The tide has gone out now and fishing boats are high and dry, sitting on the sand 100 yards or more out where water was a few hours ago.
Shadowy figures of the fishermen move around their little boats checking their nets and waiting for high tide. The sky slowly lightens but it cloudy and overcast, not much sunrise today, only a little orange peering through the clouds. High tide is creeping back in. Some of the fishermen and their families are getting impatient and began carrying their little boats out to meet the tide.
Time for a walk on the beach and see what the tide may bring in. We find several small shells and some pieces of red coral. Lyn takes her bounty of shells inside, washes them and lays them out on the deck table to dry. She sits and picks through them as if they were gold coins from a shipwreck. I like to sit and watch her. She has a quite calm gentle nature about her.
It is now time for breakfast. I think we will stroll down to Robert’s Jungle Restaurant and see what he has on the menu. Maybe 500 yards or so into the village we come across his open-air, thatched roof restaurant and bar. We are greeted by name “good morning Rob, good morning Lyn, please be seated.” Robert and his staff makes you feel special and treats you like a dear friend returning from a long absence. We scan the menu, American breakfast, Filipino breakfast, English breakfast, German breakfast, Farmers breakfast, or any combination you desire.
Farmers breakfast for me, I have to have my potatoes, Filipino for Lyn, she has to have her rice. Everyone is happy. Fresh orange juice or pineapple juice included. Once again, Robert and his staff exceed my expectations, wonderful preparation, flavorful and excellent presentation. 290 pesos, about $6.00 total cost. We shall return tomorrow for the same.
Robert has been to the States and was impressed with Cajun cooking. We chatted and he told me of the fresh grouper and snapper he got daily. I ask him if he was familiar with Blacken Red Fish, (snapper or grouper). He thought he had the spices needed to fix it for supper if I wanted. “See you for supper” I replied. Lyn and I stroll through some shops and had a coke at a few other restaurants to see how their hospitality was. Sorry no comparison, it will be supper at the Jungle.
We return to our deck and watch other foreigners and Filipinos walking up and down the beach. Each of them looking up at the house and taking pictures if they have a camera, we smile and wave. Two were obviously awe struck so I spoke to them and ask if they wanted to see the inside. One was from Germany, the other from Switzerland. They asked, “Really are you sure?” I gestured to the bamboo stairs leading up to the deck. They looked around, took in the view from the deck and thanked me. As they walked away, they were walking backwards staring back at the house. Its nap time now and then a mile or so sunset stroll down the beach and some more shell hunting. My mind drifts off with the picture of blackened red fish and salad imprinted firmly in place for supper.
It is about 7pm now and time for supper. We walk by several other restaurants and each had a just few customers. We approached the Jungle; it was vibrant with conversations in many different languages, barely an empty table in the house. Robert greeted us by name and moved tables around to give us a good seat. He waited on us personally, asked if I was ready to try his blackened fish. Lyn did not know what she wanted so he took us over to two large bins near the entrance. Each was covered with food; one tray contained various fresh fish, crabs, squid, shrimp and all kinds of seafood, the other with the standard fare of beef, chicken, pork, and vegetables.
Lyn eyes a big black crab lying on the bed of ice. She pokes a finger at it and lets out a giggle and jerks her finger back. Robert laughs and says ”careful Lyn he is still alive and might pinch you, is that the one you want?” She smiles and nods in agreement, what about you Rob, “blacken fish” he says. I reply “Well Robert I have a question for you, is that a half rack of barbecued ribs standing up on that table? Is the sauce sweet since I don’t like sweet sauce” and ”No” he replies and if you do not like them, no charge and I fix blacken fish for you. French fries and a salad with them will be fine. I have been craving some good ribs a long time and haven’t found them in Indiana, and surely never thought I would find them in the Philippines. Oh Robert, you have done it again, excellent ribs and the presentation is simply awesome. Lyn’s crab is now bright red and surrounded by a sea of mild red sauce, she lit up like a Christmas tree. Almost to pretty to eat, well I forgot, she is a Filipino, there is nothing that pretty to them, hahaha.
Finally, we eat our way into oblivion and sit back to ponder how we consumed all this exquisite food. To my surprise, Lyn has dessert, some kind of ice cream with marshmallows and other toppings. She beckons me to try, it was very flavorful, and she manages to consume it before it melts. Another evening in paradise concludes with a slow walk back to the beach house and a few hours of lounging on the deck listening to the sea. I believe I could do this the rest of my life and never grow bored. I sleep in the next morning, up at 7am. The doors to the deck are open and a cool breeze is blowing through the house. I fix a cup of coffee and wonder where Lyn is. I walk out on the deck thinking, she is hidden by one of the oversize loungers, but no Lyn.
I peer up and down the beach; low tide has returned leaving a vast amount of exposed sand. I see a small figure squatted down poking around in the sand. Her hands are full of small shells, she is washing them off in a small pool of water left by the receding tide. I sip my coffee and watch her for a while. She holds them between her finger and thumb and inspects each one, if they are cracked or chipped she pitches them aside and continues her inspection of the next. I can see her small hands are full so I look around the house and find a bamboo basket, slip on my flip-flops and head out to join her. She is so intent with her inspection she never hears my approach. “What you doing Lyn” I ask. She looks up, smiles and displays her newfound treasures. “Look, I found some red coral.” Her dark brown eyes twinkle in delight. I hand her the basket and we continue down the beach searching for another hour or so. We now have several hundred small shells, some quite beautiful. I ask her what she will do with these small shells, she replies, “Maybe I make jewelry.” She reads the doubt in my face, “why, you think I can’t do it?” “I’m sure you can Lyn” I reply. Let us go have breakfast I am hungry.” “Quick change of subject, Ok” she replies. We head back to the house.
She sets her basket of shells on the deck table and stares at them a moment. She turns and looks at me and says, “Why you think I can’t do it?” Obviously, the quick change of subject did not work as well as I thought. “Lyn, I believe you” I reply. “Now let us go eat, ok?” See stares at me a second and says, “Okie Dokie you da boss.” We both burst out laughing. Another one of my quirky sayings pitched back to me. She don’t miss much and watches how I do everything.
Breakfast was delicious. I sat and had a coke while Lyn went across the street to get us a tee-shirt. This is the best way to buy things, let her go make the deal first, if they see my light skin the price goes up. She returns smiling with two t-shirts and a yellow knit hat “I hope that hats not for me” I say. She giggles and says, “no, I like, but need 60 more pesos. She shows me my tee-shirt, I really don’t care for the color, so we both go over to the store. I find one I like. Lyn had already negotiated the price and told me the total, she saved 20 pesos per shirt. It was time to pay. I repeated the agreed price the lady had quoted Lyn, she looked at Lyn and then at me, reluctantly she agreed. However, I had learned another trick, I handed her a 1000-peso note, I knew she had just opened and probably could not change it. I had moved all my smaller notes to a different pocket except for the agreed amount minus 20 pesos. “Sorry, only have this” showing her large notes and the small ones that was short 20 pesos. “You take” I ask? She shakes her head no. “Ok” I say, and hand her back the merchandise. She stares at me and grins,frowns and then says ”ok.” We walk out and I tell Lyn, “got your hat for half price now” She squeezes my hand and says, “you smart man.” I smile and agree, “we make pretty good team.”
Time for one more walk on the beach before packing and heading back to Cebu City. I will miss this place and shall return I am sure. Robert meets us at the ferry and thanks us for being his guest and hopes we will return to visit again. “I’ll be waiting for you” he shouts, and waves goodbye as we board.
We take our seats and notice a few people looking over the starboard rail of the ferry. They are pitching something into the water, maybe feeding fish. I ask Lyn, “we go look?” I knew that would peek her curious nature. To my surprise there were 3 young Filipino boys, perhaps 10 or 12 years old, treading in the clear blue water. The water is probably about 12 to 15 feet deep along the ferry. They are diving for pesos. I reach into my pocket and retrieve eight 1 peso coins. Lyn pitches a few in and they dive, I pitch a few more a bit farther out. Each time they dive and return to the surface smiling with the peso in their hand. The diesel engines begin to throttle up and they swim towards shore. We return to our seats and watch the beach house growing smaller in the distance; some wonderful memories will loom forever in our minds.
I feel my ornery side surfacing for some reason. I scan around the ferry to see where I might apply this swelling feeling. It do not take long to see my targets. Two well dressed crewmembers, their pressed white ensigns shirts with their gold nametags and insignias, blue pants and shining shoes. I watched them; they were checking passenger’s tickets. I pull my tickets from my shirt pocket and hide them under my leg. Lyn saw me do this and said, “What you do?” “I going to mess with them” I said, and gestured to the approaching young men. “I am going to ignore them,” I said. I could see the disbelief in her face. I turned my head starboard and gazed out to sea. “Tickets please”, I continue my stare starboard, “excuse me sir, tickets please.” I slowly turn my head to port and look up at him, “tickets please” he says again. I reach towards my shirt pocket and get a puzzled look on my face ”oh no” I say, and motion with my hand that they had blown out the window. He smiled and said something to Lyn in their native tongue. I grinned and reached under my leg and handed him the tickets, he smiled and said, “thank you sir.”
Lyn starting laughing, I asked her what he said. “He say, you pay again&.” Humm that did not satisfy my surge of orneriness. Oh well maybe I can keep it in check, not. I tell Lyn maybe we can get a/c bus back to Cebu, but I would rather get there sooner than 3 or 4 hours.
I spy a small snack bar back in the open-air section of the ferry. Good time for a coke, so I walk back and order a bottle of coke. 15 pesos, about half of what the island charges. Lyn ask me how much I pay? I say, “guess?” She says “25, 30, 40, 50?” With each amount her voice goes up and her eyes get
bigger. “No only 15 pesos” I say. She looks at me in disbelief. “Yes only 15 pesos, I think girl likes me” I said with a big smile. Her eyes get big again as she pinches me on the leg. Ouch, I think somebody jealous.
We should be getting close to Hagnaya. I think I will return bottle. I notice that most are napping now, including the snack bar girl. She has her head resting on the small wooden counter top. I stand there a few seconds, she still sleeps, swaying with the gentle rock of the boat. I now see an opportunity to satisfy that orneriness I have been suppressing. Bam, I slam down the coke bottle a few inches from her head She jerks her head up and gasps for breath, her eyes as big as 10 peso coins, as she regains her composure I politely say, “sorry, didn’t mean to startle you, just brought your bottle back, salamat”(thank you). Turned and walked away, I think she may have wet herself. I am so bad. As we disembarked at the pier, she just stared at me as I walked by. I gave her a big smile and a wink. She smiled back sheepishly.
“Where you go sir”, “I take bag,” “you need ride sir,” “air condition car
sir,” “where you go,” and the haggling begins.
“I go to Cebu City” I say.
“No problem 1200 pesos.”
“No I pay 500, ok?”
“No maybe 750.”
“No problem I take bus.”
“Ok ok, 750 pesos sir, airport Mactan Island?”
“No to Talisay, Corona del Mar”
“1200 pesos, much farther (I know that this is 40 minutes farther than airport and will cost 250 to 300 pesos by taxi. By this time I see a driver I know. He has brought someone here from Cebu City and don’t want to go back empty in his brand new leased Toyota.
“Talisay, Corona del Mar, 1000 pesos” I say.
“ok, ok,we go.” Nice ride, ($20.00) for a 2 1/2 hour plus ride, delivered to my front door.
You really need a strong heart to ride with some of these guys or just close your eyes. I really don’t have the words to describe it, it’s something you just have to experience, at least once. Surprisingly there are very few accidents, which is truly unbelievable.
We had a great time and yes I would recommend it. Even if you stay at one of the local resorts, do yourself a favor and stop by Robert’s Jungle Restaurant for a great meal. Tell him Rob and Lyn sent you. You will be happy you did. Hope you enjoyed my adventure. I surely did.
I hope Rob will write more about his adventures, the house he is building and just how he experiences life in Davao.