Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Day 157. Flight to the Philippines

I awoke in absolute pain. Every muscle in my body hurts. In fact, I have discovered aching muscles I didn’t even know I had! Slowly I crawled out of bed, made a very slow car packing, and by 7 am I was driving down the mountain heading for Kota Kinabalu. It was an uneventful trip, except for the simple fact that I pegged the Empty stop in the gas tank just as I was pulling in into the only gas station in a 75 km radius. God does indeed look after fools.

I made it to the airport in good time, and by 1 pm Malaysian Airlines took off to take me to my next destination, Manila. We got there in the middle of a heavy downpour, and I was a bit apprehensive when I heard that it had been raining solid for over a week and the city was over flooded. Not that I was planning to go into Manila itself, but I feared that my stay in the Philippines would be a wet one.

I headed south out of Manila, through heavy and colorful traffic, but not the chaos that I had imagined. Filipino drivers may be a danger in the US, but when everyone plays by the same rules the traffic flows in a mysterious way.

My destination was Lake Taal, a famous geologic landmark. The lake itself is the most perfect caldera one can imagine. From the morphology I would think that the caldera-forming eruption took place less than one million years ago, but I will once again give to my students the homework of looking for information in the internet so we can discuss it when I get back.

My excellent friend Gustav had given me as a parting present Lonely Planet guides to both Malaysia and Philippines, and using the later I was homing in on the small guest house that Gloria Castro runs in Talisay, at the lake shore. I found my destination at dusk, and was warmly received by Mrs. Castro’s two assistants, Vita and Richard. They made sure I was comfortably installed, and Vita hurried to the kitchen to prepare me a fish stew that was perfect to take the edge off the rainy day. Later we sat chatting around a couple of original San Miguel beers, and I learned that Richard is trying to learn English, and Vita is trying to teach it to him. However, I am afraid that the effectiveness of the lessons suffers much form the tendency of both to laugh merrily every time they open their mouths :)

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