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Leyte, spits, and kamikaze passengers | It Starts With Ken

We took it easy today since we’re taking a 6 hour red eye ferry ride to Leyte. It’s one of those boat rides where you think you’d get enough sleep, but as soon as you’re in the middle of a dream, you’re there at your destination… at 3 in the morning. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

David and Roxanne head out to do their own stint while I meet up with some old family friends. They take me out to dinner at a traditional Filipino restaurant. For dessert they recommend I try the green mango shake. Being the guest, I oblige, not knowing what I was in for. It’s what a shake should be. This would officially begin my mango shake obsession.

They were nice enough to drop me off at the seaport, while I wait for David, Roxanne and my mom to arrive. Leyte was were my mom grew up, and we were going to join her big family reunion happening over the weekend.

The way seaports in Cebu work are also interesting, as much as custom officers are at the airport.

The ships are anchored about a half mile away from the main port entrance. To save you from having to walk this long, danky, dark and seedy road, they have these jeepneys that ferry you from the port entrance to the ship. They only arrive every 15 minutes, and as the night progresses, it seems that more people arrive waiting for jeepneys.

Nabbing a seat in these jeepneys in a mad rush like this is dicey in as much as getting something horrible from a used needle off the side of a street, in Bangkok (haha, sorry. Didn’t mean to get carried away with the metaphors). We quickly tell David to quickly dash inside of one the next time the jeepneys come around. And I tell him for once you are allowed TO push people.

The next one arrives, and we’re all ready for this mad kamikaze. Except David. In the amount of time it takes for him to realize we’ve all gotten seats, placed luggage on the roof, and crammed 25 people into a 15 seater vehicle, he’s still standing, outside of the vehicle, pushed out by the other kamikaze-hazed passengers with ridiculously over sized luggages on their laps. One man had an unwrapped microwave with him. I end up giving him my seat while I ride outside hanging off of the jeepney. Yes, it’s possible… frighteningly possible. This is about the time I’m telling my fingers, “DO NOT fail me!!!” while the jeepney races along the dark, danky, seedy and pot-hole ridden road.

Does Leyte sound familiar to you? No? Well, that's where the US Army landed to liberate the country from Japan during World War 2.

We managed to arrive shortly after 3 a.m. in Ormoc, Leyte, after that harrowing ride. I didn’t realize this then, but we had another 2 hour car ride to the small town of Carigara. We finally arrive just as dawn begins to break, and a lot of roosters crowing. A pleasant sound to listen to, unless when you’re trying to go to sleep.

I wake up several hours later that morning to the smell of something burning. I stumble outside of our rooms to find a makeshift spit. Except, whoever prepared it, drenched it completely with gasoline. So not only is it smelling like burning wood, but also of burning fuel.

What’s a spit doing right next to the room I was in, you ask. It’s for the pig that they’re going to kill later on. It’s for the big family reunion. How big you ask? I was about to find out.

Later that day, we finally get to see the pig getting killed. David, having never seen this done, is mortified at the squeals it was making. Fortunately for the rest of the guests the next day, they get to enjoy pork. Unfortunately for me, David and Roxanne, we get to smell the burning flames for the next 12 hours. Who knew it took that long to cook something over a spit.

After the huge weekend party of over 200 people (I think there were more non relatives than relatives at that place), we decide to head out for some sight seeing, if only to escape the unbearable heat wave that beset that town for that weekend. Ironically, we were literally only several yards away from the ocean at all times.

We went to a WW2 memorial site (the US’ liberation of the country from Japanese occupation) landing site while I ponder whether we were going to get some of the rain that was looming above us.

About the author

Kenneth's a self-confessed technophile, WordPress tinkerer, sweat addict, compulsive list maker, avid photographer, and tea lover. If you wish to get a hold of him, you can do so here, or if you want to follow his professional work, here.

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