Nayong Pilpino Park
Taal Volcano in Tagaytay
Bohol Day 1
Bohol Day 2
Departure / Arrival
Sabin Beach Resort
St. John's Day
Comotes Islands Day 1
Comotes Islands Day 2
Back to Manila
Let's Talk Food
Bloopers and Out Takes
Not in Kansas
By the second day, Carl, Carlotta and Anne called me Tita (Aunt) Rose. And they called Sue, Tita Susan. Now that we are back in the states, Carl has started calling me Tita Aunt Rose (Aunt Aunt Rose). We packed up everyone (Tom, Mark, Sue, Rose, Marietta, Amber, Carl, Bebs, Carlota, Anne, Alot, Fernando) and headed off to our tourist destiny of the day: the Taal Volcano located on an island.
We stopped at a park and Marietta went off with Bebs to find a guide. They left the rest of us behind because guides double their prices for foreigners. The guide arranged for us to travel to the island on two pump boats (long thin boats with a pontoon on either side), seven people per boat. Once on the island, everyone except Alot and Fernando would ride a horse up to the top of the volcano.
As we walked from the boat to the horses, the locals pressured us. "Buy a hat. You need a hat. Very hot out. Buy a mask. Very dusty. You must have a mask." Following Mariettaís lead, we shrugged them off and made our way to the horses. One by one, our group mounted the small horses and headed off until only Amber and I were left.
The Horse Ride
I lifted Amber onto the saddle and perched on the bony rump of the small horse, my knees bent beyond a 90 degree angle to reach the stirrups. Our guide, a weathered old man with a smile that said more than our ignorance of each others language ever could, led us to the dusty trail. At the last minute, a woman, who would put a used car salesman to shame, convinced me that if I didnít buy the mask for "my baby" I would be at best a poor "mom" - at worst responsible for every cough and sneeze in her entire life. In retrospect, Iím impressed that she could convey such deep meaning with simple words, "Mask. For the Baby. You need mask. For the baby." Twenty Pesos, payable on return. Five seconds onto the trail with the mask crumpled in my fist, I knew I was a sucker.
My lapse in judgment drew a young man, like a shark to blood. I was at the end of the line with the others far ahead. The man rode next to me as my guide walked behind prodding my horse along. I assumed he was another guide sent to ensure we all made it safely to the top. How nice. I was wrong. "Lady, 300 Pesos extra for the baby."
"300 Pesos extra for the baby." He moved himself off his saddle to perch on the rump of his horse and motioned to the saddle. "Two - hard on the horse."
I thought he wanted me to shift myself forward to the saddle and perch Amber on my lap. "You want me to move forward and put the baby on my lap?"
"How can I do that while weíre moving?"
He shook his head. "300 Pesos extra for the baby. Small horse. Two - hard on small horse."
"Talk to them." I motioned forward toward the rest of our crew. "They paid for everything."
He motioned again to the saddle, shifting back to the rump of his horse.
"Bebs," I yelled. Though a ways ahead, Bebs turned around in his saddle. "Translate for me. I donít understand. Does he want me to put Amber on my lap?"
Bebs listened for a split second, waved away the words, mumbled, "Donít worry about it," and left me to fend for myself.
The young man continued pestering me for the first quarter of the ride up. "300 Pesos for the baby. Small horse."
I couldnít concentrate on the view. I couldnít talk with Amber. I wasnít enjoying myself. I had enough! "Youíre ruining my trip. We settled the amount in advance. Iím not paying you extra now. Itís not my fault you put us on a small horse. If we should be on a bigger horse you should have put us on a bigger horse. Thatís not our fault."
He turned around and went back to camp. The rest of the ride up was peaceful, as Amber and I talked and laughed.
Part way up the volcano, the guide pointed. "Smoke." Sure enough, smoke was seeping out not far from where we rode of what I realized was an active volcano. We reach the summit and looked over the edge. Bluish-green water filled the crater. Smoke rose from one shore and the nearby patch of water steamed and bubbled.
After a while of soaking in the view, we remounted our horses and began our descent. Going down steep hills on a horse can be disconcerting and I worried about Amberís reaction. But, she leaned back into me as instructed and only once or twice said it was scary.
Dark clouds moved in and three-quarters of the way down, thick pearly drops of rain splattered down kicking up dust from the trail. Good thing I had a mask! I left it balled up in my pocket. Amber donned her purple hat borrowed from grandma and we laughed as the rain picked up intensity, soaking us, while Amber explained that the hat was keeping her dry. We arrived back in camp just as the rain subsided.