On Sunday we went to the beach, and as we approached the water I heard my name being called out.  Ella was there with her cousins, and she came running up to meet us.  We spent a couple of hours playing with them, and this time I grabbed my camera.  Tyson brought along his dive mask, and the kids had a great time borrowing it.

Yesterday we witnessed a mini monsoon.  It only lasted a few hours, but the rain came down with more force than I’d ever seen before (and I’m from the east coast of Canada, so that’s saying something!).  The sound of thunder was so constant, it was practically one continuous rumble.

We knew the storm was coming because the night before we sat on the beach watching lighting shudder silently through distant clouds, putting on a display more spectacular than fireworks.  The air and sand were warm, the surf rolled in gently, and we had cold drinks in hand.  We sat there, awe-struck.

Coming form a place that is grey and damp for 9 months of the year, I’m really impressed by the weather here.  We’ve only been in the Philippines for a few days, but already we’ve witnessed extreme weather conditions.  There isn’t a lot that excites me more than a good crack of thunder followed by a flash of lighting.  Here, ominous clouds come and go so quickly that it doesn’t have time to cool off while the rain pelts down.

After the rain stopped, we ventured out to replace a thermos we broke, and found some neat little shops on Main Rd.  Main Rd is about a 10 min walk from the beach, and is much less touristy.  The shop we bought the thermos in was belting a strange remix of the Black Eye Peas with Christmas carols.  It made us laugh.  We also picked up a 2/6 of Boracay rum for about $2 CAD!

Today we got up early, ate our breakfast and headed out to get our visas extended.  Our plan was to do it yesterday, but one call to the visa office by our amiable host proved they wouldn’t be in until today. We set out, map in hand, and found the place after about 15 minutes.  While getting into the Philippines is difficult, they certainly make extending your stay easy.  Within two hours we were granted an extra two months, and given all the info we wanted to extend that further, if needed.  The people were friendly, helpful, and smiled when we told them we were from Canada.

Then we paid our first visit to the local medical clinic, something we’d hoped wouldn’t happen for awhile.  Thankfully it wasn’t an emergency. Since going for our first swim a couple of days ago, Tyson had been walking around deaf in one ear because he got water in it.  He’d tried everything, including hopping around on one leg while smacking himself upside the head, but nothing seemed to make the water budge.  Finally I insisted we visit a clinic, and it was a good thing, because they got a lot of wax out too.

When we got back from missioning around all morning, we decided it was time for a swim.  We’ve been in the water every day we’ve been here.  The water is warm, clear and refreshing.  We’ve seen some really beautiful fish, including a puffer, blue tang and other colourful ones I can’t name.  We’ve even seen some brilliantly blue starfish, though without an underwater camera, we have no photos.

Tyson couldn’t find his swim shorts.  We looked everywhere, and alerted the staff they were missing.  We concluded they got stolen off the railing, where we’d hung them to dry.  Its a real bummer because Tyson only brought two pairs of shorts, and also because that means that thieves are operating here.

We ventured into a nearby market, and after visiting a number of stalls to the tune of “Helllloooo, Ma’am, Sir!!!” we found Tyson a pair of swim trunks for about $5 CAD.

Then we headed out for our much-needed swim, diving masks in hand.  Yesterday I bought my very first dive mask.  Since I want to learn how to dive, I decided to save myself the cost of a pair of goggles and just get a mask.  I’m very happy with it!

By this time the sun was starting to set, and we noticed the water wasn’t quite as warm as it had been on previous days.  We bobbed around close to shore looking for fish.  Then Tyson spotted a blue starfish in the sand.  How strange.  Then we spotted another one, this one upside down.  And another.  In total, we found eight starfish, but they obviously were not meant to be there.  They’d either come in with the tide, or someone had dumped them.

We grabbed all eight and swam out about 50 metres, where we’d been the day before.  There’s a bit of a reef there, and we’d noticed lots of fish, starfish and other animals.  We dropped the starfish there, since we knew they had a much better chance of survival on these rocks, than rolling onto the beach.

As we headed back to our hotel, a few Aussies who’d been watching us said, “Nice job!”

“Whatcha mean?” we said.

“Saving those starfish.  A lady came off a boat holding a pile of them, had her photo taken with them and then threw them into the water.  We were livid!”  We felt glad we’d even noticed them.

We went back to our room, showered, and got ready to go out for dinner.  We went to an area called D’Talipapa, which means “small market” in Filipino.  At its very centre is a wet market where they sell live and on-ice seafood in a hectic labyrinth of counters, fishtanks and aisles crammed with people.  We saw a lobster as long as my arm and a crab the size of Tyson’s head.  The sellers are young characters who holler at you to buy their goods while holding them up to see.  But they were also very friendly, often laughing at our wide-eyed reaction. They didn’t mind having their photos taken, or telling us what kinds of fish we were looking at.  We watched one guy herd escaping snails, which people apparently put in soup.  He laughed when I told him they were getting away.

Because cats here aren’t neutered, there are a lot of them running around. We’ve managed to befriend a one-eyed cat who we’ve named One-eyed Willie.  I took pity on her our first morning here and shared my scrambled eggs with her. Ever since, she’s been following us around like a puppy, and she certainly loves attention as much as food.

In the past couple of days Tyson’s caught a number of crabs and two geckos!

I’ve posted more photos here.