Trip to Leyte

Trip Start Jan 15, 2010
Trip End Feb 02, 2010

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Flag of Philippines  , Visayas,
Thursday, January 21, 2010

Today we were up bright and early to catch the ferry to Leyte.  Last night, we got back too late to get the tickets from agent at the mall, they were already closed.  We had no trouble getting them at the port, although we had no more than 10 minutes to spare.  The SuperCat ferry is a giant catamaran with an airconditioned cabin, movie, food, and bar service and seats 12 across (and holds hundreds).  The ride to Leyte took a little over 2 hours.

Right at the port of Ormoc is a large market with an array of fresh meat, fish, fruits, vegetables and dry goods.  Zel mentioned she used to work there when she was in school, and knew some of the people around there.  I was fascinated by the whole thing, although we wound up having breakfast at a fast food joint.  

We waited at the restaurant for some of Zel's brothers to arrive.  While sitting at a window seat at the restaurant, a street vendor selling lanzones, a small fruit with a smooth, inedible skin, but a juice, segmented pulp that tasted a lot like grapefruit, just less acidic.  Zel didn't think it was classified as a citrus fruit, but I can't really describe it any other way.  I liked them a lot, and between the two of us, we polished off a half-kilo while we waited.

After her brothers arrived, we left my backpack with them and then Zel and I went to the market to buy food for a picnic.  We bought two whole yellowfin tunas, some small sardine-sized fish, an assortment of veggies (tomatoes, scallions, ginger, lime, and a couple of kinds of seaweed) and some pineapple.  We also bought a bag of charcoal for grilling the fish.  We also picked up some pods of sticky rice made with coconut milk and wrapped in coconut leaves.

All 5 of us and a considerable amount of baggage all piled into a motorcycle transport which took us to a public beach.  We set up in one of the thatched-roofed pavilions, and Zel's brother prepared the charcoal on the community grilling area.  A simple grate was laid across the coals, and after lathering with lime juice and salt, the fish were placed whole right on the grill and cooked until the skin was charred on both sides.  Meanwhile, Zel and her brother picked the heads off the little fish and cleaned them.  They were then mixed with lime juice, vinegar, tomato, scallions, and ginger and left to marinate until serving.

Zel's parents arrived, along with more brothers and additional food.  Once the food was cooked, we all sat down to eat.  Beer and Coke was for sale there, a liter of each was 77 pesos (about $1.50), unbelievably cheap!  I had brought a bottle of wine at Zel's urging, but neither was the Tempranillo well-matched to the food, but none of her family particularly cared for it (so I was forced...FORCED I tell you, to finish half the bottle myself after my liter beer was finished).  The food was excellent, we picked tuna straight off the carcass, it was perfectly done all of the way through.  The seaweed, which was not leafy but stems and seeds, needed to be dipped in the vinegar mixture (same combo used with the little fish) and it had an interesting texture, and nice flavor.  The little fish were tasty too, a little more pickling time would have softened the bones a little more...I think I was the only one spitting out the spinal column (although later on, Zel and I were in the water and her brother brought us a dish with the fish, by then I had no trouble eating the fish bones and all).  

The weather was overcast, and the water cold, but Zel was determined to spend time in the water, and we probably sat and swam in the water for about 3 hours before catching another motorcycle to Ormoc.  We arrived with plenty of time, and bought some food to snack on for dinner.  The rotisserie chicken was superb, and for the third time that day, we had fresh pineapple (it is so good here, very tender, not fibrous like a lot of the pineapple available back home).  We also bought a treat called "moron" made from sticky rice, cocoa, and wrapped in banana leaves.  They served as breakfast. 

We both napped a little on the ferry heading back, arriving at the hotel around 10:30 pm.  After the long day, we were both ready to catch up on some sleep.  We decided not to plan anything particular for Friday so we could relax after two eventful days.
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