Monday, November 26, 2012

One night in Puerto

Today was meant to be a down day - recuperating from the sunburn and restless sleeps of the past few days. In that we succeeded. Except we didn't get the laundry done.
We just got back from a bar just down the road from our hotel - so close that the walk home home is barely a memory.  Katabom (pronounced kata-BOOM) is a quaint little spot with live music who will be celebrating their third year anniversary in a couple days. We happened to be walking by the entrance when another couple were walking in. The man said that the live music here is very good and the owner is the best singer in Puerto. A moment's debate by us (I had hoped to go to the Baywalk to see the action) and we went in.
The place was dimly lit, mostly by candlelight and a man was singing cover songs with a guitar. The walls were covered with empty bottles glued together to form a three-dimensional wall paper. We sat down on the heavy metal chairs, trying not to make too much noise as they dragged, screeching along the floor.
The San Miguel beers are still produced in "stubby' format, and here they were served so cold that they were misting in the evening heat (it's still 27°C at 10pm).  I wrote notes in our travel book while Julie took photos. Suddenly two more beers appeared and the server said they were from the couple over there (see over Julie's shoulder in the one image) - the same couple who invited us in.
I thanked them as I passed by to the comfort room and they invited us to join them. A few hours of storytelling ensued with our new friend Marius insisting that we pay him a visit in El Nido when we travel there. "Sleep on a mattress this thick on my balcony and we'll eat fresh fish and watch the stars" he said. Round after round passed through as we discussed scuba diving, tourist traps, engineering, rugby, seafood and Filipino cuisine. He introduced us to a "salad" called kinilaw, which is like a ceviche but larger chunks of raw Spanish mackerel in this case. It was quite tasty! He declared that his girlfriend made the best though, because she made it with coconut milk.
A couple of guys at the next table had a couple of pitchers on their table. Julie wondered what they were so our host asked them. Iced tea apparently. But the smaller one was the local Tanduay rum. Seems the way to drink it is to pour a shot of rum and chase it with the iced tea. (Julie had noted earlier in the day how iced tea is quite popular here.)  Naturally this repatriated Filipino (he moved back from Cali) who was cheerfully wearing his Giants champions T-shirt offered us all a sample. And naturally my Julie was the one in there making it happen! She hopped over to their table after learning that he also had contacts in El Nido whilst I discussed the finer details of Springbok and Allblack rugby.
We collected more contact numbers while sharing our new Filipino cell number and I'm sort of surprised that we outlasted the Cape Town lad, but he did have a 5am bus to catch in order to get his building supplies shipped.
Fortunately we are catching the 11am "Fort Wally" van so we can sleep this off.

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