Tuesday, February 27, 2007

missing that big salty swimming pool

My whole body in motion, breathing rapid but even, wet hair clinging to my forehead, I closed my eyes against the glare. Unfortunately it was not the glare of the sun I sought to block out but the fluorescent lights reflected on the bare white wall facing the elliptical trainer.

Recovered from my flu, and migraine-free for the past week, I've gone back to the gym. And I realized last night that exercising in a box in Tokyo just isn't the same as my hours of daily frolicking in the calm giant aqua pool off of Boracay. Who doesn't love swimming in the sea?

And as you might have seen from the photos, Boracay's White Beach side is ideal if you prefer calm waters, while the other sides of the island get much more wind and surf. We experienced some of those waves firsthand the day we chartered a paraw, a small native outrigger sailboat, and got taken on a wild ride around the island by 3 local wave cowboys. Thankfully we hit dry land twice during our cruise, once to snorkel (Alain's first time!) and once to have lunch on Puka beach, because the marine rollercoaster was starting to affect my tummy!

But we spent the rest of our week firmly planted on White Beach, the island's tourism center and where our lodgings were located. I hesitate to call Nigi Nigi Nu Noos a hotel because it's different. There's an open-air bar just off the beach track (I don't call the main street that runs the length of White Beach a street because it's a sand road!) and Nigi's has a very popular open-air restaurant too. Then there's the office/reception area next to the resto and behind that are the garden paths leading to the huts and assorted rooms. Anyway, the hut was cute, the food good but the staff was cold and unpleasant. Some bordered on hostile for no reason.

Of course we didn't complain, since we felt a good amount of middle-class guilt. See life is tough for a lot of Filipinos, even those living on a paradise island like Boracay. Because, as we discovered on a couple of brief forays venturing away from the beach, the rest of the island doesn't look anything like White Beach. And the local children plying seashells on the beach (like my 3 little hams) don't get to stop at Jonah's for a cold fruitshake whenever they're hot and thirsty.

The main road that ran the length of the island was a short walk from WB. And though we would've liked to walk it and explore more, the traffic and pollution caused by the island's main mode of transpo, motortricycle taxis (motorbike with this big, covered sidecar that can seat 4 & luggage) made for scary and unpleasant walking. We were going to rent bikes and go see what we could find but we frankly decided to just chill out, take our long walks in the sand, do our swimming, reading, eating, etc and not try to explore everything like we always do.

Of course we did gleam some interesting stuff about the Philippines through a few friendly Filipinos we met. Alain was thrilled to find basketball to be extremely popular and we learned that the local language is Aklanon. We had been shocked to discover how all Filipinos spoke English and to then find out that it was an official language, learnt beginning in grade school, along with Filipino (standardized Tagalog). So, just like Canada, they're an officially bilingual country but they are home to many, many, many other languages: 171 in fact! And of those 171, there are 12 with at least one million native speakers each.

Astounding, just like the sunsets.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

working feverishly

Literally that is. Since I was away last week they asked me to work full time this week. And then I got the flu. Or the flu has been trying to get me since Tuesday night. But I've been popping echinacea and soldiering on to the office, bundled and achy and drinking fluids like a sponge. Only to drop like a rock when I get home.

All this to say, I promise to post about Boracay soon. Though there's not much to tell, it was pretty chill, just like me now...

Monday, February 19, 2007

my idol AND a princess

I am just about to fall into bed after attending a reading by Margaret Atwood this evening at which a member of the Japanese imperial family was also present; Princess Takamado, the widow of the current emperor's cousin.

But I'm not posting to gush about the author I most worship, nor to brag of my brush with royalty. I just wanted to get up one of my Boracay photos because the place was unbelievably photogenic. I still have a ton to upload, so these are just a taste of what I'll be returning to in my dreams tonight...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

full on 400 yen

I accidentally bought the cheapest lunch possible just now. After class I had to go to the bank and pharmacy (for some beach supplies, we're leaving tomorrow!) and while I was out, I decided to grab a bento lunch in the metro shopping plaza near our house. I surveyed the ready-to go take-out tables outside of a few of the restaurants and at a Chinese greasy spoon, I grabbed the first tofu dish I saw since many were meaty and I'm no fan. For under C$4 I got a nice mix of ma-po tofu and chicken and veggies on a typically huge serving of rice, which as you can see, I couldn't finish.

Have to roll myself to work now. I probably won't post during our week in the Philippines so ja mata (later)!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

drunken strangers dried out my eyes

The dishwasher is broken, glasses everywhere. My contacts are dried out and I want to go to sleep but Alain is still making the last two drunken guests laugh so I don't suppose I'll be getting to bed just yet.

And joy-oh-joy my uber-polite partner has invited them to sleep over. So much for Sunday morning pyjama lounging... I tend to dress for strangers: I just tonight met his ex-students and their prof from when he was volunteering as a TA a couple of months ago. And though the eve was very enjoyable, we had woken early this morning and traipsed all over town (see new pix) for dinner ingredients.

Bonne nuit svp les élèves!

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