Didn't make the top seven? Add another eighth...

Trip Start May 27, 2008
Trip End Jul 31, 2008

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Where I stayed
People's Inn Hotel and Restaurant

Flag of Philippines  ,
Friday, July 18, 2008

Ok-- so contrary to the stated location and title of this entry, I'm actually back at home base in Binalonan and will be for the rest of my time here (except for a mini-excursion to Lac-Lac this weekend! YAY!).   Buuuuuut, we've been so many places since the last time that I wrote and decided that the Banaue Rice Terraces definitely take the cake. 

After a super sweet fellowship meal and more heart-wrenching goodbyes with our new friends in Cabulay, Wilson (our driver for this adventure), Jennifer, Mary Lou, the boys, and I hopped into the Red Adventurer (which I'm surprised we haven't named yet... the boys mock me endlessly for this, but you all know my style, I like to have names for things) and headed to the the Ifugao province to check out this proclaimed "Eighth Wonder of the World".  Now, I've seen a lot of rice fields since I've been here-- and I mean ALOT-- so I was a little skeptical about going to see MORE rice.  But when Zach shook me awake as we rounded the side of the mountain into Banaue, I immediately understood why they made sure to schedule time to visit.  Over 10,000 square kilometers of rice, carefully carved into thousands of steps up and down the sides of mountains by the bare hands of generations of Filipino farmers.  And of course my first thought had to be "how the hell do you plant and harvest all this rice without an escalator?"  And that's definitely part of the wonder.  Another scene where words cannot describe and pictures cannot come close to capturing the magic of the Philippines.  The terraces still produce a large majority of the nations fine rice, and still not a piece of heavy machinery to be found.

The last stop of our three week adventure through the northern part of Luzon was in Maddela.  Now I don't know if someone had already told them about everything that we had done prior to our arrival or not, but they sure found ways to keep us busy!  From splashing through the Dumabato waterfalls, building bamboo rafts that would immediately sink in the white waters of the Cagayan River, to mudsliding through some unnamed caves... they definitely showed us a fantastic last few days, and once again stole our hearts with gracious hosting and heart-felt gratitude for our stay with them.  Final goodbyes with our traveling companions were the hardest as we headed back to Binalonan... but there were definitely things and people that I was looking forward to returning to for sure.

And strangely, aside from all of our friends here, all of the things that I was so anxious to return to still leave me strangely discontent.  The mattress, the electric fan, the toilet seat (or the toilet itself), the kitchen sink... now it all seems like cheating.  I guess they consider it our stepping stone back to the states-- and although I still have another 9 days, it makes me feel like the adventure itself is quickly fading.  It makes me yearn for the long nights on the hard bamboo mats, waking up with my clothes soaked in my own sweat... but waking up to everything that I've been journaling about for the past 7 weeks.  I am not going to waste a single second of these next 9 days... starting with Lac-Lac this weekend!

Oooh, lastly-- yesterday, all of the kids at the Santa Fe Learning Center (the school that shares the same lot as the congregation here) were celebrating Nutrition Month and as part of it, the 6th graders all competed in a cooking contest to learn how to cook "Nutritiously and Deliciously" ... and Zach, Myles, and I were the judges!  The kids were adorable in their aprons and nervously giggled as we came around to taste their foods... and I worked hard to keep a straight face every time I had to eat bitter melon (one of the few foods here I can't stand-- unfortunately it's one of the most nutritious vegetables).  We judged as fairly as possible, I swear, but our host brother Maxell's team still won.  He is a good little chef for sure.

I guess the stalker story will have to wait again, and maybe it's really a better story to tell in person anyway. :)  Ingat!
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