Rice Terraces and grandfather's bones

Trip Start Feb 18, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Philippines  , Luzon,
Thursday, April 1, 2010

The terraces of Banaue and Batad are absolutely stunning.  These pictures are the best of the thousands that we took.  Some are over 2,000 years old and walking on their edges really gives one a great feeling for the true size and work that went into making them and that goes into continuously farming them.  Trekking in and out of valleys is the workout of a lifetime....I was dead wrong about the mountains being cold!!! And the unpaved roads lead to bumpy rides on the motorbike.  But swimming under a cold, fresh mountain waterfall after a very long trek is a real treat!
  *Warning* There are MANY pictures of the rice terraces but they are all so unique and special.  To us they never get old  :)

The native people here are amazing and we found some really great handmade crafts.  One man named Martin invited us into his home to see his carvings.  He was chewing betelnut, as every true mountain man and woman in this region tends to do, and when I said I had never tried it, he smiled and offered me some.  Of course I had to try this chewey concotion of a wood-like areca nut, chewed with a few betel leaves and "lime" (a colorless crystal-like powder).  *You'll notice in our pictures many of the people are missing most of their teeth and their remaining ones, along with their gums, are stained red*

I chew it for about 5 minutes then have to spit it out because it is absolutely disgusting. 
Martin then says to us, seemigly out of nowhere, "Would you like to see my grandfather's bones?"
"Bones?" we say,
"Yes the skeleton.  It's just right here."
Well ok then.  Into the closet he goes and out he comes with a small blanket which he lays in the middle of the floor.  He opens it up and his daughter tells us about their tradition to bury the dead for a certain amount of time then dig up the skeleton and keep it wrapped in a blanket in the home.  Grandma is in the closet too.  Martin wants Jon to hold the skull and is careful to make sure he is also holding the now separated jaw.  He wraps up the bones and tells us it's also customary to give a small donation for this privelage.  :)

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