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Sunday, January 01, 2006

January 1, 2006-San Fernando

San Fernando

This place feels like Mexico. The whole country of the Philippines does in fact, but this beach at San Fernando, just a strip of jungle backed sand lined with colorful boats pulled up beyond the surf in front of a row of seedy resorts and with the sounds of kids playing in the water, the morning haze and rolling hills behind; even the sounds from the highway and the smoke which wafts offshore in the morning breeze are eerily like Mexico.

The water is calm at this time of day, same as in Bandaras Bay, at Bucerias Beach, in Nayarit, Mexico where I swam with my mother and Jack there on mornings like this. We'd swim for maybe a mile along the beach and afterwards we'd walk back and have breakfast on the patio of their casita.

I'll probably go for a swim here today, and maybe a walk along the beach, for old time's sake.

This is a new year, 2006. In China it will be the year of the Dog, Judy tells me, and it is the year I was born in. I'd prefer to have been born in the year of the Dragon or something, but I guess you don't get much of a choice in this.


Yesterday we went to town and walked around. The people here seem to be obsessed with fireworks, and there were stands in the plaza with amazing displays of firecrackers and rockets. I was a kid in a candy store, surrounded by stuff I'd be happy just to touch, let alone buy. Rolls of firecrackers, "2000 rounds" the sign said, and bundles of cigar sized rockets, for a dollar; a pyromaniac's downfall.

Back at the beach the locals were happily putting quantities of these goods to the match, and the sounds of aerial bombs and the staccato crackle of "two inchers" could be from a war zone, and it went on all day. At nightfall it became a constant roar. The crescendo happened at midnight, of course, with "the rockets red glare and bombs bursting in air" for the whole length of the beach; a couple of miles. It was a good show to watch from the boat.

Earlier one of Lando's son's brought back the laundry his wife had done for us and collected the $16 we owed her, but I thought that on New Year's Eve that money probably went for firecrackers or San Miguel beer, not to Lando's wife.

We ate our evening meal in the cockpit watching the fireworks.

We had rice and fresh Dorado bought from a fisherman who came by in a white and black banca. He said it was 4 kilos, and maybe it was. I paid him $2 a kilo; eight bucks. Not cheap, but we'll have three or four meals from it.

I had to dive for this fish, because as I sat on the windvane platform on the back of Wings discussing a fair price for it with the fisherman, it slipped from our hands and went over the side. A glance was enough to see that it was going to sink, and fast, and the fisherman made no move to go after it. I threw off my hat and sunglasses and dove in, and it was just in front of my face when I opened my eyes; its golden head shining softly in the flickering sunlight. I cradled it in both hands and brought it back up to the fisherman, to his obvious relief and delight.

Lando has been doing well with us. He came far out to sea in his boat, "to guide us in", and we followed him through the reef. Then he offered his shore transportation service, 24 hours a day, for P15, about $.25. Of course he's making his money on laundry and propane delivery, and on the cut he gets from all of his friends and relatives we've hired or bought something from. I have no problem with this, the prices are fair, even with his cut.

And he showed us where to find Cheap Charlie's, owned by another relative no doubt, where we could sit in the shade by the beach and drink beer at $.45 a can, or get a sandwich for $1.00.

So this is San Fernando, The Philippines. It seems like it's going to be a good stopover. We'll check into the country on Monday, as soon at the office opens up after the long holiday, and then, when Jhun's Machine Shop finishes fixing our windvane, we'll be off, to see some more Filipino towns and beaches.


Fred & Judy, SV Wings, The Philippines.

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