(For pictures of this leg of our journey, visit Tracy’s blog here.)
We met the surfing district of the Philippines late at night after a long day of busing about, and were a bit weary for it. It was on this night that we sat beside the South China Sea, three stories up, contemplating the recommend-ability of our current country. Despite the starlit beauty of that night on the balcony the jury was still out on the matter.
The next morning presented us with a challenge: Tracy had fallen ill and so I tasked myself with finding a suitable detox center for her condition. This is a place known for its beach-side surf resorts, so I took a jeepney ride up the coast line to their place of concentration in my quest for recovery luxury. The first place I tried after being dropped off was full, so I scouted further on foot. It was then that I happened upon a place unbeknownst to my trusty Lonely Planet, a swank and rather new place of sharp looking cabanas called the Kahuna Resort. And they had an infinity pool that looked over the surfer-laden sea. Score. With just a swipe of the credit card and a drop off my backpack we had a new home base.
Proudly I returned to the hotel we were at, peeled my ailing-yet-lovely new wife off the bed, and proudly took to chaperoning my marital cargo to our shiny new digs. This was a place to recover in, and good thing, too. For whether it was an matter of solidarity or my having imbibed the same cause of ailment, I too proceeded to fall ill in exactly the same way. For the utility of my forage for such paradise accommodations, I am grateful that my illness came those precious three hours later.
What a pair we were, taking turns in the bathroom while watching 80’s movies on our in-cabana flat screen TV. I refer to this as the “Honeymoonal Celebration of Intimacy and Closeness,” for it was a wonderful testament to our love and acceptance of one another to have that love endure with us both in such a sorry state.
All things do pass, in time.
(I of course mean here the sickness, not the love.) By the next day our appetites were reasonably restored, and we were content to enjoy our surroundings for more than their “nice place to detox”-ness. While bobbing about merrily in the infinity pool the afternoon after our second night there, a fellow the western persuasion did a cannonball some 15 feet from me, and after he surfaced we exchanged brief glances: the sort of smiling, mutual acknowledgment that yes, it is nice to be in the pool. And that’s how I met Darcy.
Darcy is the second delightfully influential Canadian to grace our trip. With his hearty accent, penchant for playing hockey, and fondness for The Kids in the Hall he also lent fuel to my baser self to presume that I do indeed know all there is to know about Canada (I’m not committed to this presumption, by the way). Turns out Darcy owned the place, too. This was useful for a number of reasons. One of which was that, by this point, I’d been wanting someone on staff I could make known the fact that the perhaps yet under-trained staff (this was still a new resort, after all) seemed apt to gracelessly interrupt naked time with their schedule of delivering 2 measly bottles of water to each cabana in the early evening, and not go away when you tell them to do as much in presumably muffled words through the door. Strategic rantings aside he was all kinds of enjoyable to talk with, from topics of local culture, doing business all around Asia, and what it’s like to live swankily in slightly cesspool-ish Manila.
Later that night I joined Darcy and his business contemporaries for a bite. My order of food arrived on two plates: on one a big heaping slice of chocolate cake, and on the other a sad little scoop of rice. For this not exactly being the model of balanced nutrition, I fetched some odd looks from the gang. In a striking example of how the universe is not, in fact, necessarily fair, I explained how the former was for me while the latter was for my wife, who in a state of still diminished appetite remained on a strict BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice, Apple juice and Toast). In a gesture of good husbanding I did however bring some cake back to our room, a few bites of which Tracy was able to enjoy as punctuation to her otherwise bland starch.
In the morning Darcy’s hospitality really shined. It was time to head back to Manila in preparation for our next-day flight home, and while Tracy and I were planning on another marathon bus ride to do so, Darcy had the good sense to suggest we take a flight back–from this relatively remote region there are only 3 such flights per week, and today was one of those lucky days. (And luckier still, he and his associates were also heading back and could give us a ride both to and from the airports.) At $35 a seat the deal couldn’t be beat.
His staff set everything up and that afternoon, with a car ready and waiting to take us to the airport, we were on our way. Crestfallen though we were to not do any of the surfing we’d set out to do, our time in San Jaun was about the nicest way I can fathom to spend getting through a rough 24-hour bug together as husband and wife. Such romance! …did I mention the blaze-orange sunsets?