Island Hopping with my sisiter! (March 16th- 23rd)

Trip Start Mar 21, 2006
Trip End Oct 05, 2008

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Flag of Philippines  ,
Saturday, March 24, 2007

Greeting's To All!!

Heidi and I have been enjoying a blissful island paradise life this last week!! After I picked her up at the airport on the 15th we spent one night in Manila. I felt bad but, one of the first things we ended up doing was going to a mall!! I know who would have thought? But in Manila that is what there is to do and it is a way to escape the insane humidity and heat. Heidi discovered she still had the snikordoodle cookie she bought in Seattle 48 hours before so we enjoyed a cup of coffee and began our constant gabbing and catching up that has only begun! That evening Heidi was kind enough to treat myself and another PCV to an amazing dinner at an upscale Italian restaurant in Makati. Makati is the rich, developed and beautiful area of Manila, quite a contrast from Malate the neighborhood I normally hang out in. In Malate children are bathing in the diesel filled water found along the road and all the problems that exist here are so visible. However in Makati, I felt like I was in Studio City in Hollywood. Huge skyscrapers, clean streets, with medians and trees. Quite a contrast! The meal was wonderful and it was great to have a "good beer" and amazing pizza for a change.

The next day we had an early morning flight down to Dumaguete, the southern most city on Negros Island. When we arrived we had a one hour banka boat ride over to the beautiful little island of Apo. The population on Apo is 700 and it is a true testament to a community led, run and properly managed environmental eco-system. Apo was the first marine sanctuary established in Philippines and it remains the best to this day. A former PCV helped begin its restoration and with the help of Greenpeace and a very conscious and active community the sanctuary is preserved, healthy and the local fishermen are thriving with wonderful fish catch. I had visited Apo in January and was so anxious to take Heidi there so she could experience the beauty of the coral and marine life!! It was here first time to snorkel and she was amazed and enthralled with all there is to see under the sea! The brilliant colors of coral, fish in every size and color imaginable!! Needless to say we had an amazing two days on Apo Island!!

Our next stop was the town of Valencia, set at the foothills of Mt. Talinis just north of Dumaguete. "Aunt Peggy" as I fondly call her a fellow PCV lives there and being that she is an Oregonian and writer I knew she and Heidi had to meet. We enjoyed a wonderful relaxing day in her beautifully constructed nipa hut, eating great fresh food, and chatting constantly the way only soul sister women can! The next morning we also returned to the amazing Casarorro Waterfalls I had visited a few months ago in Valencia. While the hike up to the falls was a true grinder it was well worth the beauty, lush tropical forest and swimming when we arrived!!

The next day we hit yet another island and arrived to Siquijor late in the evening. Heidi yet again got to experience the thrill of riding on a petty cab. Simply a motorcycle with a small cab attached to it and our very heavy bags strapped to the back. As we winded up the hills towards our resort there were many a time we both questioned if we were going to make it. We did arrive safely and quickly learned we were staying in a wonderful little Nipa just 10 feet from the water. The whole evening we heard the waves coming in and woke up to true island paradise with the beach and water right there!! We spent the day swimming, laying in the hammock and enjoying the "rough island lifestyle!"

Our final stop the last few days has been on Bohol Island where we stayed at the incredible Bohol Bee Farm. Check out the web site if you want ( It is such a beautiful place, we had an amazing room, facing the water with trees in front, reminded both of us of Pebble Beach! This place would be a nice Hotel in the States... to give you an idea of how great it is. We spent one day touring the island of Bohol seeing the famous Chocolate Hills created from coral moving's 100's of years ago when Bohol was covered by water. Also saw the famous little monkeys the Tarsiers. Too cute!! And enjoyed a great lunch on a floating restaurant on the Loboc River where adorable little Filipino kids sang to us!! We enjoyed fresh local organic meals and I can say without any doubt these meals were the best I have ever had in the Philippines!! Our last day in Bohol began at 5 am when the alarm rang and we headed down to the water to catch our boat over to Pamilacan Island! We watched the sun rise and prior to reaching the beautiful island where we were greeted by the bat driver's wife and had beautiful fresh flower leis placed on us we experienced the thrill of dolphin watching!! There were swarms of them out that early, apparently their feeding time and they were so playful. They swam so close to our boat I was waiting for them to land on my lap! It was truly a rush to watch them spin and flip in the air and without a doubt of the best things I have done here!

Vicky the owner of the Bee Farm is a soul sister and an incredible woman. She told us with great pride in her voice that when she opened the farm she began with 4 employees and she now has over 80 most of which are women!! That is indeed something to be proud of! She not only is providing a wonderful peaceful resort experience for tourist but a sustainable, healthy livelihood for her community! She also repeatedly thanked Heidi for sharing me with Filipino's and wanted both of us to know and hear from her compassionate heart how much she appreciates the work we are doing here. It was all I could do to not start crying right there and our interactions only proved now important work like the Peace Corps is. If only everyone had the opportunity to spend time with people of other cultures and experience our human connections there would indeed be no war!!

Our wonderful last day at the Bee Farm, dolphin watching and snorkeling was quickly changed when we arrived to the airport to catch our flight to Manila. The flight had been overbooked and we got bumped. The women at the airport, our nemesis Emma, was not professional or helpful and ushered us out of the airport to catch the last boat to Cebu City with the hope of getting there in time to make a 7:30 flight to Manila. Like that was going to happen! Long evening short, we took the boat to Cebu, mind you the boat did not even dock until 7:15pm, needless to say we missed our flight. The woman at the Cebu Airport was extremely professional and she re-routed us to a different airline. We took the list flight out at 10:45pm, arrived to Manila at midnight, quickly got to the bus station with the hopes of catching the 1am bus to Baguio only to discover it was full and we had to wait until 2 am. So finally after a long and unexpected bump in the road we arrived to Baguio yesterday morning at 8 am. We slept until 4pm and met up with fellow PCV's at one of my favorite spots the Bliss Café. A vegetarian, Buddhist Café owned and run by Jim and ex-pat and his Filipina wife Shanti. We had a wonderful meal and after lots of coffee, a shower, and our day spent sleeping we felt human again after our nightmarish evening bouncing from airport to airport!!

Today we are doing some sightseeing in Baguio and this evening heading up to my site and settling in for a bit. I am so excited for Heidi to meet my family and see my stomping grounds here. I know this has been very long, but as you can see if you read this entire update a lot went on this last week. I hope you are all doing well and more tales of the sisters travels to come.

PACE and love to all,


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nickytree on

keep a truckin girl!

sounds like youre doing great, nice to have a familiar face to reconnect you back with this crazy world over here.....believe me its not easy assimilating back to this culture (or lack thereof) weve got at home.

Keep going, many warm wishes to you!

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