The right side of my head is swollen, throbbing, waving, twitching, aching. Present. In my eyebrows, behind my ears, down the depth of my head. This is classic air press migrainey feelings that often trigger seizures, usually dissociative ones.
I am ignoring it by watching Sister Wives.
I do not understand tumblr.
Non Epileptic Attack Disorder- also known as Psychogenic Non Epileptic Seizures, dissociative seizures, pseudoseizures, and simply “non epileptic seizures”- is a disorder in which seizures occur without any clear medical cause, such as the abnormal brainwave activity which is found in epileptic…
We have, as a society, such a completely disordered, distorted perception of female bodies that the vast majority of people are incapable of recognising what “overweight” actually looks like on a woman, let alone “healthy”. As such, we’re now at a point where women are not only…
Last week I started my first ever fully, fledged Pathfinder campaign. Pathfinder is based on Dungeons and Dragons 3.5, and with a couple of changes, is essentially the same thing.
I’ve guest starred in a few games but never had the chance to create a character to last me a whole adventure. This, for the record, is one of the things I love about RPGs; not just the opportunity to immerse yourself into another world in the collective mind of you, your companions and your games master, but the chance to make a whole person to play as.
I spent a lot of time thinking up who I was going to be. In video games, I am almost always the feisty rogue, choosing dialogue options that allow me to sound as much like Starbuck from Battlestar Gallactica as possible. Essentially it allows me to channel my competitiveness and aggressiveness in a fun way!
This time I decided to come up with something new. My character is a naive and quiet 16 year old girl called Lelia who, due to a series of unfortunate events, ended up sharing her body with the opposite of her, a somewhat-demonic, no-nonsense “person” called Rin. I’m not in control of when the switches occur; I gave that power over to the games master who rolls every now and then to see who I am. Lelia tends to spend a lot of time crying, talking quietly and helping out with cute spells that tend to make bad guys befriend her or brighten up the dark with dancing lights. Rin, however, likes to set stuff on fire and berate people for not acting enough and drink shots.
So yeah, that’s all well and good, but what’s the big deal, you ask.
This week I had one of the biggest seizures for ages. Those who follow me on Twitter and know me in real life are well aware of my sudden onset of a seizure condition in November that temporarily derailed my confidence, health and life.
Late Monday night, I become absolutely filled with anger (pretty bizarre seeing as I just secured a paid job that day, huzzah!) that spilled over to Tuesday causing me to upset two friends, whilst basically being unaware of what was going on. My flatmate, Luke, and I have now decided that being crazily snappy is a bad-sign we should watch out for, as I’m normally very laid back and a happy person.
At work, I ended up having a seizure in the bathroom, whilst staring into the mirror. As I’m not epileptic, I get to be mostly conscious through my seizure episodes, joy of joys, and tend to get “locked-in”, unable to move or respond or talk.
So anyway, that was fun, but again you ask what the link is.
I have often felt that, in bad-brain-times, that I become another person. Either someone incredibly angry and irrational, or someone absolutely terrified and anxious. It’s not actually another person, I suppose it’s just a huge mood swing, but it’s so all encompassing that this is how it feels. Whilst sobbing into my flatmate’s arms yesterday, it dawned on me that my characters Lelia and Rin are essentially the two embodiments of my seizure condition; the weak, terrified anxiety and the furious, uncontrollable rage.
I’m hoping that, through development of the game, I can empower myself by empowering these two characters. I know that non-epileptic seizures (or reflex anoxic, or one of the other many terms) tend to not have any fix-all medication or cure, and a lot of it is a case of self-care and putting up with it, so perhaps I can least work through the emotional struggle of adapting to this change in my life through the wonders of the collective imagination of me and my friends.
Perhaps we should be putting the RPG campaigns in the self care section of book stores.
This is something I’ve had in mind to write for the last few weeks, but more and more things have happened making the post longer and longer in my mind.
I flicked onto my blog earlier this morning and read the last thing I wrote in Winter, when I was … destroyed? I can’t really think of a word to describe it. Reading it back upsets me, partly because I was back there only two weeks ago, and I continue to be terrified that I will be there again one day.
The important thing is that I’m out of that hole again. After you hit rock bottom, the only way is up, right? It certainly feels that way.
But the only reason why I’ve managed to crawl back out of there is thanks to my people, giving me a leg up every step of the way. I have been completely astonished by the overwhelmingly loving reaction from everyone, including from my family, my near and far friends and even absolute strangers on twitter. The phone calls, the proclamations of love, the messages of strength; every single one helped a little bit, and I was blessed with so many. My room is littered with care packages of chocolate from around the world and my phone full of text messages reminding me that I am strong and loved. More often than not, my tears are now happy tears.
It is not always easy to be a brave Hux, but I’m working on it, thanks to you. Thank you for making me me again.
Every time it happens I change. I forget who I was. Not in a literal, amnesia sense. But a few days after my seizure, I begin to realise that I’m not me, again.
The second day is usually spent so exhausted I can’t really think about anything. It’s the third day where it goes wrong.
I completely lose the ability to compartmentalise and control my emotions. The worst bit is that the things I worry about are always to do with other people’s perception of me. Is she mad that I can’t come to the party? Why hasn’t he called me cute in the last two weeks? Do they mind having to skip their plans to stay home and watch me?
The last is the worst. I feel like a useless thing. Not even a person, just a thing that has to be watched just in case it hurts itself and causes more problems. My sister pointed out that I keep using the term “babysit” to describe when people stay with me to make sure I don’t have another seizure and thoroughly injure myself. I guess I don’t think very highly of myself.
I remember that the people around me need time off to sort out their own lives. But when I feel like this all I can think of is me and I hate it.
My confidence that I so cherish is diminished so much so that I barely recognise myself. The idea of having a shower is scary because what if I have a seizure and some poor sod has to come rescue me, covered in suds and naked as the day as I was born. My bedroom is two floors up, so I try and take everything I need downstairs for the day in the morning so I don’t have to move about too much. A seizure on the stairs could be truly dangerous.
Going outside is even worse. The outside world is full of people who could knock into me, flashing lights, loud noises. People as a collective entity start to scare me, because what if I seizure in front of them? Will they think I’m crazy or drunk? Will they help? I had a seizure outside once, but that was in the arms of my boyfriend. What if I’m alone?
The times before my seizures tend to be when I’m really happy and healthy and are not plagued by terrible thoughts. It’s the after-times. It’s the now, and they sit in my head like an itch that won’t go. A horrible primal feeling that someone thinks I’m awful combined with an aching loneliness that won’t shift. The two mean I’m constantly battling a desire for comfort and reassurance when I know I need to be able to look after myself.
But sometimes, like now, I just want to give in to that feeling, be held and be told everything is okay.
So guys, seeing as you put me through this TOILET of a book, 50 Shades of Grey, I realised that hell, I’m barely literate, maybe I COULD WRITE ONE OF THESE. Luke and I had a joke conversation and this is what we came up with.
Whiny, physically non-descript girl is experiencing change in her life. Let’s go for moves to a new town. Let’s make it… London. Yup, London. She’s clumsy, she’s a socially awkward penguin, if you will. Let’s call her - let’s think, Bella, Anastasia…. - Catriana Swanson (i don’t know if that’s a name, who cares, he can call her Kitty if he wants).
She is taken out by her kerazzzyyyy new housemate to a fancy do. Let’s say it’s a meet and greet that lawyers go to. Obviously I don’t need to know if this sort of thing happens. Let’s make it a charity ball.
In this charity ball, she meets a strange, aloof man, who is incredibly handsome. She needs to fixate upon something, so let’s go for his strong chin and Roman nose (sexy hey). There’s just something about this guy. She can’t stop staring at him. They talk, she swoons. Let’s call him - Edward, Christian - Victor. Victor…. hmm can’t think of a good surname right now. Let’s go for Victor Buckley.
Later in completely unrelated circumstances she has an ALMOST SERIOUS accident, only to be saved at last minute by mystery Victor. It’s so surprising that he’s there, except it’s not because he’s probably been trawling her as the others do because he’s SO ADDICTED to her. He takes care of her, they have coffee, he is MYSTERIOUS and ALOOF but things get steamy and he talks about how delicious she looks and how beautiful she is and how supple her limbs are.
They go home and have really hot passionate sex (though it doesn’t have to be really hot or passionate or well written because I’m writing for the unwashed masses). He then tells her she NEEDS TO KEEP AWAY FROM HIM because he’s so DANGEROUS and could HURT HER. SO MUCH FORESHADOWING. She’s all swoon I want to love you forever.
This similar pattern continues.
And then she finds the dungeon. No not a sex dungeon. Like, a hidden room. With chains on the walls. And a meat cleaver. And a freezer.
YES THAT’S RIGHT YOU GUYS HE’S A CANNIBAL
But she’s going to stay with him because she thinks she can change him or save him and he wants to protect her and love her.
In the second book he goes abroad to hide because someone’s noticed that someone he knew is missing so we get to spend a whole half book with her crying about how much she misses him, then he’ll come back and apologise and it’ll all be SO TENSE.
In the third book he suggests they elope and she gets all excited, except that one night he suggests some kinky sex and ties her up then HE SLICES HER UP. THAT’S RIGHT GUYS, HE’S GOING TO EAT HER. IN THE BOOK. YOU. READER. HE’S EATING YOU.
The end. Money now?
DO NOT READ THIS UNLESS YOU HAVE SEEN THE FILM I AM NOT BEING RESPONSIBLE FOR SPOILERS
SO YOU’VE SEEN IT. GOOD.
Things I thought about when I watched the new Batman, in no particular order other than how I remembered them once I’d gotten home:
- Ahahahah oh god is that really his voice?
- Why are foreign people always evil?
- Since when did Nathan leave the Uncharted series to become Bane’s side kick
- TAAADAAAAA IT’S A BOMB NOW
- Wait I thought it was just unstable so would degrade and blow up at some point, nothing to do with the timer what why is everyone panicking about 45 minutes time
- Why the fuck is Qui Gon Jin back if he is alive I’m going to nut someone
- There was definitely a LUKE I AM YOUR FATHER MOMENT between Batman and Bane
- Seriously why did they think that would be a good voice for Bane?
- I love that Catwoman’s goggles are her ears someone get me some
- Oh I see why the bike you lean forward on is given to Catwoman. WONDERFULLY GRATIUITOUS ASS SHOT.
- What does Bane’s facial wear actually do?
- OH BANE PLEASE STOP TALKING I’M DYING HERE
- HOW THE FUCK DID HE GET BACK HERE? NO REALLY. IGNORING THAT HE’S BROKE HOW DID HE GET ACROSS THE BRIDGES??
- Nolan really likes blowing up the bridges
- OH ALFRED DON’T BE CRY
- This is strange, I don’t hate Anne Hathaway in this
On food and Filipino culture
I believe this is a post I’ve had in mind since the last time I came to the Philippines but I hadn’t really experienced enough in order to write of a reasonable breadth of experiences.
Food is most certainly at the heart of Filipino culture. People may say otherwise and that religion really is the lifeblood, but this is my firm belief. You only have to look at fiestas, where villagers make their way around everyone’s house stopping for a whole meal or at least some sum-sum (eating while drinking, usually leftovers or snacks). Filipinos are enormously generous and this is no more demonstrated than when they open up their house to you and place about four different dishes plus rice and beer or pepsi in front of you, just for the pleasure of it.
Finding good cuisine in the Philippines really depends on what you are looking for. I spoke to a couple from Cambridge at Mike’s in Dauin who had travelled across through all of Asia and admitted that Filipino food had been their least favourite due to the vast amounts of barbequed chicken and rice that make up the bulk of choice. Finding some real delicacies takes a bit of luck and some digging, certainly.
During the fiesta in Mahaba, it appears that we were seen as special guest stars, so to speak, hence why we ended up eating somewhere around five meals between lunch and dinner time. The phrase “meat sweats” does not quite cut it. I could have sworn my sweat the next day smelt distinctly of ham.
Speaking of meat, I continue to be astonished by the vast quantities of meat the Filipinos devour on a daily basis. My views are potentially slanted slightly because there’s a distinct possibility that they cook us white people up lots of meat dishes because that’s what they expect richer people to eat, but still, everything contains chicken or pork or fish. During our time in Mahaba, I had to specifically ask for vegetable dishes, and then ask again for them to have no meat in them. I think after seeing how happy I was devouring half a bowl of squash and green beans, they seemed to understand what I was getting at! Vegetarianism here is almost unheard of, though I relished in the opportunity at Coral Cay to be a pretend one. The females in my immediate family have always had trouble digesting large quantities of animal products, and it’s taken me a few weeks to get back into the swing of meat-meat-meat. On top of that the huge quantities of rice remains something I am still yet to get used to as it appears at every meal, though at breakfast it is generally garlic fried rice which is rather good.
Despite all this heavy food, I have managed to lose ¾ of a stone during my 7 weeks here, the bulk of this disappearing in the last two weeks when we weren’t diving (really not sure how that one happened). I will here describe some of the wondrous and bizarre dishes that I have had the luck to be served, complete with photographs wherever possible:
Whole spit roasted pig: This is also known as lechon, and is some of the loveliest, most tender meat you will ever eat. At the Rosenas family reunion on Apid Island, we even sat with a whole 60kg lechon on our table, peeling off its sweet and crispy crackling. It goes amazingly well with a sauce (usually it is named sarsa) that is brown and sweet in flavour, the equivalent of the apple sauce hog roast combination. I found that, in fact, many things go very well with sarsa, especially vegetarian egg fritters, mmmm.
Freshly caught squid: One lucky day when it was particularly hot and Howard and I were feeling a bit down in the dumps a few days after the Crown of Thorns day, one of the small boats pulled up absolutely laden with about seven men, who it transpired had been out catching a huge amount of squid. Our staff brought a small bowl of them over to show us. The creatures had in fact died by this point, but the pigments in their skin were still flashing in their chemical reaction. It was fascinating to watch. This even continued for another hour, once the squid had been chopped up and served raw on our plate. We also had them cooked in their own inks, which was delicious and not too over cooked.
Mentioning raw seafood brings me straight to one of my favourite dishes here – kinilaw. Kinilaw is raw fish, with fresh coconut made into the equivalent of a thin coconut milk, with lots of ginger, spring onion and red chilis. It is sweet and spicy and sour all at once and a complete assail on the senses, but boy is it good. It is the Filipino equivalent of sashimi, essentially. I’ve had it with Tuna (eep, every time I come here I get served huge quantities of the exact thing I refuse profusely at home), squid and I think another type of fish which escapes me, possibly snapper.
Crabs served with buko (young coconut): This was cooked for us on Mahaba on a reasonably regular basis. Crabs are caught and then I believe boiled slightly, then their flesh removed from the shell, mixed with buko and mashed slightly, then returned to the shell for serving. It is sweet and very flavoursome. We did eat one “coconut crab”, which is much bigger and almost lobster like in appearance, though the flesh is much bitterer and not really to mine or Howard’s taste. I would love to have taken the recipe for this, but there is definitely no way I could recreate this in the UK.
Mango and banana float are favourites that I will most certainly be making back at home. Having not eaten this in Cebu, I can assume that it may be a delicacy that resides in Leyte. Float implies a liquid nature, which initially put me off, but it’s not at all like that, until it melts a little. It is a dessert layered in the same way one might make a lasagne, but the layers are made of crushed Graham crackers (so much arguing about how to say the word Graham between the Brits and Americans!!), sliced banana or mango and condensed milk. You then freeze it, but allow it to thaw a small amount before serving else you can’t break the stuff up. It is quintessential heaven and quite probably bad for you but the wonderful taste of it overrides your health concerns. Those who live in York may be lucky enough to taste my attempts at making this over the next few months!
With regards to palate, Filipino food is very sweet. The bread is more akin to brioche as it contains eggs, sugar and milk. I’ve only ever been served sweet potatoes, which look pale and fibrous, half way between the sort we get in imported into the UK and a regular British spud. In fact, as I’m writing this section, our cooks in Mahaba Fi and Marilou have just provided us with a plate of these sweet potatoes, fried and caramelised in sugar, which are treacly and comforting, the sort of thing your mother would make you when you needed a real energy boost. A bit on the heavy side, so I can’t gorge on them, which may or may not be a good thing – my mind keeps yelling DON’T REGAIN THAT ¾ STONE MISSY.
The instant coffee tends to contain coffee mate as well as sugar and pictures of bleached Asians really enjoying their drink. Given that Coffee Mate’s primary ingredient is glucose syrup, you start to get the picture of how sweet things are. Luckily we managed to find some instant Nescafe that contains nothing added and Romell has a bean grinder.
Tuba and San Miguel are regularly mixed with Pepsi to make it sweeter, and Tanduay often mixed with Sparkle which tastes like molten sugar but is supposed to be somewhat like Sprite, which they also have here. Their equivalent of Fanta is so luminous in colour that it could light your way in the dark. The ice tea powder contains 23g of sugar in every 25g of powder. Err guys, I’m pretty sure you can’t call that tea…
Amongst the sweet and the delicious comes the truly bizarre. Baluk is something that, as yet, no one has convinced me it’s worth trying and at the thought of it my Western squeamishness reaches maximum levels. Baluk is a fertilised duck egg and you eat all of it, bar the shell. Last summer I recall two people telling me that you drink the “soup”, referencing the egg white and yolk, and that the duck foetus tends to disintegrate if you’re not quick enough.
A weird Asian delicacy that I am much happier to devour at length is stinky, creamy durian fruit. Banned from many a building and transportation, it really smells bad, almost like sulphurous rotten eggs. But ripened and cooled in the fridge, the fruit inside the thick spiked shell is delightful. The key to durian is to not think of it as a fruit, per se, as it doesn’t have the same fructose sweetness as tropical fruits like mangoes or bananas. The best stuff is the fibrous bits around the stone. It looks a little like the creamy inside of fresh brie and to me, it tastes like a creamy sweetened cheese. Many people uncertain of eating it ask “why would you eat something that tastes so bad”, at which I point them to stilton or similar coloured cheeses which smell like feet but taste absolutely delicious. Separating your taste buds from your nose can be difficult (though personally, I think it smells less when you’ve cracked it open and get the yellow flesh out) but with an open mind many first timers, like myself, can enjoy it immensely. If you ever get the opportunity to eat it in an Asian country, I recommend you do so if it’s ripe as no matter what your personal review is, it’s worth the experience.
At the end of my time in Mahaba I was also treated to another stinky-tasty food which was dried fish, which had basically sat in the sun for four days, and you dipped the meat into vinegar. It was very salty and there was some other taste, almost a bit like off butter. That day I really liked it, but the next day I felt like I could smell it on my skin and we got served it in a sort of coconut soup that made me retch at the smell. I think I might steer clear of that one.
A meal that I had in Pura Vida was a yellow thai curry sauce, mixed with grilled chicken, cubed mango and sliced banana. This was on a bed of lightly fried rice, mixed with spring onion, white onion and cubed carrot. Totally making this when I get home.
When I mention that Filipinos eat a huge quantity of meat, I don’t simply refer to steaks and chicken breasts. At the Barangay Captain’s house in Mahaba Island, I was served a stew of pork “innards” in which the sauce was composed mostly of blood. I was really rather surprised to find it delightful, reminiscent of a hearty, salt laden pork soup I had in the restaurant of the Fernsehturm in Berlin. I have also been served chicken intestines on a stick which I accepted one night when I was a bit too drunk to consider what it was I was really eating and that was pretty good too, though it had a grainy texture and the meat almost melted in your mouth not unlike ox tongue; I believe the best part of it was the sauce. During the Rosenas family reunion on Apid, we met another English fellow who was married into the family, and he told me that the lechon ears are considered a delicacy, as is the tongue. We even get fish heads in our broths along with the fins and meat!
Hospitality, generosity and positivity have been evident in the Filipinos no matter where I’ve been and everyone is always keen to help out when we look a bit lost. I’ve learnt just enough Visayan to ask questions and to understand directions, so that helps!
Back to religion, Catholicism features regularly here. You can’t drive for particularly long without passing a statue of the Virgin Mary and almost all the jeepneys, buses and tuk-tuks have something along the lines with “God Bless this journey” written on them. Many fiestas have religious origins, such as the one I attended in Limasawa, Southern Leyte, which was to celebrate the first Catholic Mass to be held not only in the Philippines, but in Asia when the Spanish conquered - I believe it was the 491st anniversary. Our Filipino counterpart signs the crosses or makes a sign every time we pass a Mary on the roads. On several occasions, meals have been blessed by seminaries or by high standing members of the public, while Howard and I look on awkwardly, always missing the point where they do the sign of the cross over their bodies, meaning our hands hang limp but twitch just as we miss the cue.
Howard wanted to donate some money to the village, to something that would benefit the local community. The first response was to give it to the church, which we refused on the basis that we’re not religious and something better could be done with the money rather than it be spent on the upkeep of a church somewhere nearby. In the end it went towards new buoys for the Marine Protected Areas, though I never actually saw this being implemented!
So that’s it; my rough, poorly edited collection of thoughts on the Philippines.
I know that if you happen to be one of those nice people who think it imperative to read my tweety ramblings as well as this (HA YEAH) then you’ll know that mine and Howard’s good work has been stopped by a bloody typhoon.
After being here 7 days, with a day off for ear rest, we had finished three of our sites. The third was a fished damaged area that was alright, nothing particularly special, called Talisay. We were super chuffed with ourselves so planned to go to the Marine Reserve the next day.
And that’s when trouble started.
The Barangay Captains (local elected mini mayors I guess) had all been informed by the main office that gave us our permit that we would be diving in the Marine Reserve because no one else is allowed to. Supposedly, they had told the Bantay Dagat (marine guard protector people) we were coming. Of course this didn’t happen. One of our boat staff swam all the way out to the Bantay Dagat office and back to give us the bad news (poor guy, 10 mins each way in bad waves). Then we had to go to the Barangay Captain’s office. When he was found he just sent a text to the Bantay Dagat. A full hour and a half was wasted by that exercise but OH WELL.
Unfortunately there was a current so we only got half the full amount at 5 metres depth completed, then we struggled to get back on the boat because of the waves.
It was after that that the warning about the typhoon came and the waves got really big. Now typhoon season runs from June to December here. The typhoon hit on the FIRST OF JUNE. And it’s now the 4th and the waves are still too bad for us to go to that side of the island because it’s so exposed. Our side, you can barely tell we’re having problems. The weather is nice and there’s some wind occasionally, but otherwise you’d have no idea. The typhoon itself is off on the other side of the Visayas, and yet it’s still messed up our progress.
We have tomorrow left in Cabilao so I’m really hoping we can dive, but looks like we’ll have to come back later to finish it. On the upside in this spare time I’ve done more work on the statistics and my tan, a little. It’s just frustrating to see the sea and want to dive in it but not be able. Boo.
The first thing I noticed about Cabilao was the humidity. The second thing I noticed was how healthy the coral is.
Oh my goodness. After five weeks of bad to mediocre coral in Mahaba then Dauin I had forgotten how glorious a healthy reef truly is. Lighthouse reef on the North Western tip of the island is absolutely exceptional. Howard and I jumped off the boat in our snorkelling gear just to check out whether the site was suitable for a “good coral” labelled site, and it didn’t take us long to realise that it was perfect. The quality of reef here is very high, though so far we have only dived Lighthouse and Cambiquiz, on the North Eastern tip of the island, in front of the Sea Explorers resort.
Cambiquiz is dominated by seagrass stretching out far from the shore, only to a depth of 5 or 6m maximum, followed by a wall which shows history of dynamite damage – unsurprising given that on the other side of the neighbouring island, dynamite fishing still continues and we hear blasts at least once or twice a dive. The seagrass bed is littered with coral bommies and hosts a variety of marine life and we even saw a pair of Cowries mating! When we snorkel out we are regularly greeted by shy green puffer fish, trying to camouflage themselves into inexistence. I’ve seen a lot of pipe fish here too.
Cabilao is famous for the pygmy seahorse, discovered to be here by the dive guide at Sea Explorers known as Bobet, who now is somewhat of a local celebrity. He helped us find all our site combinations, thus completely obliterating our need for a scoping day. In fact, we’re now on day 6 of Cabilao, having an ear-rest day, and Howard and I have completed two of our sites and know exactly where the other two are!
My right ear is causing a bit of a problem today, however I am unsure if it is an ear problem or a jaw problem. Around my jaw hinge is swollen and my gums feel sensitive, and because of this equalising can be difficult though I generally can do it. H and I inspected my mouthpiece to my regulator and realised that when it’s in my mouth, it keeps me locked at a half-open position, rather than almost closed, due to a piece of plastic that goes over the roof of my mouth. The only reason this thought sprung to my mind was because of Nadia and Naomi mentioning when they were doing my share of the field work in Dauin how strange it made their mouths feel. After a few hours of this a day, perhaps it is my face that is suffering, and not my ears. I’m unsure about this, but I’ve switched to a normal mouthpiece so we’ll see tomorrow as I intend to dive or at least give it a shot. The worst thing about this is how painful it is to eat, though on the upside this does mean that it’s less likely I’ll be piling back on all that weight I lost.
There was a bit of a misunderstanding regarding our rooms – we were led to believe that there was no room for us for the first three nights, but it turned out to be three nights in – so we stayed over at Polaris resort for two nights and braved the seriously bad bumpy road between the two resorts via motorbike. The food there was excellent and I gorged on the first spinach I’d eaten in eleven weeks. While the electricity was on the island’s generator, so only between 5pm and around 11pm, the resort itself was nice and attractive looking. The rooms were a bit kitschy – seriously guys, a wall hanging with dolphins on does not also need glitter!
It’s nice to be back in one place though. We’re here projected for another nine days, depending on how soon we finish up the diving. It’s just been Howard and I for all the time here so far which has been nice and we’ve been working like the well-oiled machine we had built ourselves up to being.
I think Howard and I really earned Dauin after our ordeal at Mahaba. Arriving at Dauin was like stepping into a world of luxury that we were completely unused to.
The first place we stayed at was Mike’s resort, just for a week or so whilst Sea Explorers was fully booked, as it was a bit of a last minute decision to go to Dauin as our third, rather than fifth, site. Mike’s was great. Mike himself is a warm-hearted California who used to grow wine grapes and is determined to make you feel at home as soon as you arrive. The rooms were huge and cool, with internet actually in the room which is so unbelievably rare. They had a big hairy black Labrador named Lola, who was heavy with milk and constantly scratching, closely followed around by her only remaining puppy who looked the absolute spitting image of my beloved Bantay. Unlike Bantay, however, she had a particular penchant for attracting ticks, so I spent much time on extracting the little bastards from her. It was a nice place to spend my recuperation, whilst my abscess receded and hearing returned. I managed to get a few dives in at the end of our time there, then we moved next door to Pura Vida which is part of the Sea Explorers company.
All the staff at Pura Vida are really charming and sweet, and remember my name which is really nice considering there seemed to be about fifty people staying there at that time (though, to be fair, I am the only young, white female). One of my cleaning ladies accidentally locked me out of my room when I was working in Howard’s and when I caught up with her at the reception, she walked me all the way back to unlock it herself, whilst complimenting me on “how you wear your shorts” and told me that the guard said I was very gwappa. I said this last year, and it still stands, the Philippines is great for your ego if you are an averagely attractive white female like myself. Like I said, all very nice friendly people.
Howie and I were super lucky to have a visit from Naomi and Nadia (of Cebu adventuring days) whilst they were doing their holidaying before going back to the UK. We were triply lucky, because I got otitis externa (swimmers ear for you normals) and so couldn’t dive, so they stepped up to the plate and helped us complete the site. It was lovely and refreshing to have them around. All the staff would ask me “are they twins?!” and occasionally “they are boys?” A little boy swimming in the shallows of the pool one afternoon, who kept telling me which bits he was going to swim along (massive adorable points combined with oh-god-my-ovaries), came across Naomi and asked, quite sweetly, “why is your head like mine?” We told him it was because it was too hot for long hair, which he seemed to agree to, but then said something like “is it because it’s pink?” which was where we lost him. He then asked Howard, who was squinting in the sun, why his eyes were so small.
We managed to crack out some ideas for the statistics during my time off diving though, so at least there were some upsides. My tan improved too, a little.
In case any of you are divers and want to know about the diving around Dauin, I’d say if you’re after muck diving then you are in heaven. Unfortunately I didn’t get chance to go to Apo because of my stupid ear, and so just dived in the long stretch of marine reserves along the coast. The coral got hit very badly by a tropical storm in December, which also damaged many of the businesses boats. Therefore, there’s a lot of recent rubble with some algae already growing. There’s a surprising number of fish in many of the marine reserves where the coral has suffered, however. Hopefully that won’t change over time, as it’s going to take a long time before the coral comes back to how it was. The resorts here are wonderful though and it sounds like all of Apo except the East side didn’t suffer in the storm, so it’s worth heading over if you’re considering it.
That’s about it for now!