Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Getting ready to leave civilization

Today was the last of eight straight days in Manila getting prepared for our move to Corregidor. Nothing special to report, mostly had to wait because no boat ran there today.

Tomorrow we get on board the ferry and leave civilization. Well, to be honest, Corregidor is civilized, but it is a different world from anything here in Manila or the States. "The Rock" is a tadpole-shaped crown of a dormant volcano at the mouth of Manila Bay. To the northeast is technically the bay, to the southwest is the South China Sea, which is part of the Pacific Ocean. The water is always warm and swimmable. Occasionally a shark fin can be seen from shore, but swimming is basically safe. Marcia was stung by a jellyfish in 2007. You are never much more than about 1/2 mile from the water anywhere on the island.

The head of the island is west, on the Bataan side. The crown is called Topside and is about 630 feet above sea level at the peak. So you can see that the road up must be rather steep. In fact it winds around, as did the old trolley line, parts of which are still visible. Going towards the tail (east) is Middleside. This is where we will live, at approximately 400 feet. We will be isolated as no one else lives up there except possibly an occasional security guard may spend the night. Next is Bottomside, which is about 1/4 mile across. To the south is the "Navy Side," to the north the "Army Side." Between is the Corregidor Inn, with its 20 or so rustic rooms. Proceeding east is the tail, which begins with Malinta Hill and its marvelous tunnel, and eventually you get to the airstrip. If you go to Google Earth you can start at Manila and head southwest 26 miles til you find Corregidor.

We hope to have Internet right away, since we bought a gizmo that plugs into the USB port and uses the phone tower on the island. We are told that it is slow speed, so we are not expecting much. But the cost is only about 10 cents every 15 minutes. So you may or may not get an update from us tomorrow. Here's keeping our fingers crossed. We do not know what we are going to do for food in the short term, and even the long term is somewhat questionable. We do know that the workers on the island eat, so we will too. There is a coop on the island which has a few staples such as rice and sugar. A boat goes across to Bataan a couple of times a day and the owner takes orders for food. We have never seen the boat but I guess we'll get to know the guy pretty well.

We are planning to go to Bataan to buy the furnishings for the house, which is bare except for some plumbing fixtures right now. Oh, yeah, 2 or 3 fans. Anyway, as soon as we get a bed we'll at least be able to sleep there, and the water is always available from the outside water tank, so we can wash and shower. Hopefully we will get word soon on our solar system and get that project underway. We will have a generator but that will get expensive fast.

Anyway, despite the mild trepidation, we really are looking forward to settling in our new home and helping around the island. Steve's father thought it was a paradise, and it's easy to see why. The beautiful flowers, the palm trees, the beaches, the quietness, the occasional typhoon and earthquake, what wonderful things to look forward to. We hope to be back tomorrow night to give you our impressions of the first day.

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