In 2014 Paul had been asked to help rebuild a village in the Philippines for Operation Blessing, after one of the largest typhoons on record wiped out many villages and islands. Separated for many months as I stayed to assist our family in Sydney, Australia, I finally joined him in the September of that year.
These are some of the blogs I wrote and posted on another site during that time. I share them again in no particular order.
It’s raining – still! Another tropical storm has caused torrential weather for the past week or so and our tiny room provided gave us little shelter from the wind and rain.The previous nights were hilarious as we woke during the night shifting our small foam mattress and mosquito net around the room, to find a place that was dry and no potentials for drips from the roof or over-spray from the driving rain coming through the walls. Yesterday between wind gusts Paul and one of the boys surrounded two weather walls with tarpaulins. Oh blissful sleep!
I woke this morning dry, with dappled light of our sawali walls beaming little spots of light and was so excited! “The sun!” Grabbing my sarong I raced outside to see grey clouds rolling in from the sea from the north and the sun trying pitifully to shine through the clouds from the south.
We took a chance and decided to get out and climb to the top of the hill where the evacuation cave is situated. Paul used to climb near to the top with the boys and help them carry all the chain-sawed coco-lumber, down to the village below. The most he said he could do was five times up and down! He became a bit of a legend as the other guys only managed a couple or so times up and down in a day. It is a long way up and even longer coming down carrying timber on your shoulders. They were some of the challenges they faced here in Pagnimetan as they rebuilt the village.
We set out to walk up the hill, check out our evacuation cave and just get fresh air. Our walk was a bit slippery over the jungle grasses and vines scattered across the coral rock and fallen coconut trees but not too difficult.
To our delight we spotted a couple of troops of monkeys higher up the hill – babies and all. The main issue though was making sure we didn’t step into hidden sink holes or cave openings in our excitement to follow them trying to get a decent photo.
Huddled under our umbrella, perched on large coral rocks, sheltering beside some trees to shield us from driving rain, I felt the ghosts of past “explorers” in these hills.
These areas were navy bases for the Americans during the war and there are still remnants of their building foundations and pathways in the village area. I am sure they would have set out on more than one occasion patrolling in the region and perhaps up this hill for a good lookout position.
We heard and saw a monkey coming down one of the coconut trees and decided to follow him, except he disappeared over the cliff to his family further down. It was worth the detour from our trek up the hill to see the view out over the reefs and toward “my” radar hill. We always look towards this hill from Radar Hill, but this morning we turned the table.
It was a spectacular view but we were a bit concerned with the continuing showers and after exploring a little further up the hill decided not to risk losing our footing and falling into a sink hole so started to trek back down. Paul couldn’t resist and pulled a couple of his Piccolo fire crackers from his pocket throwing them down two sink holes – in the name of exploration of course just to see how deep they were! The smoke billowed out of various hidden openings so guess it did prove a point. Just not sure what!
Back to Operation Blessing base for a lovely breakfast of scrambled eggs, beans and swamp spinach and a warm coffee..a great start to a couple of days enforced holiday due to the rain and holidays for New Year.
Until next time
Narelle and Paul