Imagine waking up to a teenage girl’s voice bellowing these words at 5 in the morning. Our cottage is actually a two-floor set of separate rooms each with their own toilet, and a group of adolescents had rented one of the four rooms on the second floor where our room was situated. The walls between our rooms were concrete, but they weren’t thick enough to shield my ears. Besides, this girl was standing right outside our door, slightly(?) drunk, yelling into her cellphone. It made me wish I’d spent the night sleeping on the beach instead.
I got up and staggered out onto the balcony, peered out over the edge, and immediately stepped back. An open-roof garbage truck had stopped right there and the truck driver was changing a flat tire.
My parents were leaving Boracay early that morning, but Marielle and I were staying on with Aunt Gel and Uncle Rene’s families for one more day. After seeing the parents off, Marielle and I went in search of breakfast. It being only 6am, we found ourselves at d*Mall looking for a place that was open early. While there was the ever-present Andok’s Chicken, the previous day we had breakfast there and the servings had been small and slow to come. So, Marielle and I sat down at Jammers, a 24-hour burger joint semi-decorated in 1950’s soda shop style. We were served good omelettes and foul-tasting mineral water by a woman who barely smiled, but she was pregnant so we left her a tip anyway.
We did some more sunbathing (sunburning?), then hid in the shade at Jonah’s Fruitshakes where I had a melon milkshake and moped about my pink bikini. I had bought it at Robinson’s Galleria right before we left Manila and had never swum in it until that morning at the beach. To my dismay, I found it was prone to Janet Jackson-type wardrobe malfunctions. I resolved to hunt for a replacement.
Marielle and I walked down the length of the beach after a heavy Italian lunch at Aria, where the cheese pizza is excellent. We got as far as Station 3 before our feet started telling us it was time to head back. I found a great chocolate-colored bikini by the side of the footpath, but it was priced at 1,250 pesos. My eyes bulged out at the price, but I decided to splurge on it for my own peace of mind. (Fashion tip: well-endowed women will benefit from halter-type swimsuits, which provide both support and coverage.)
The rest of the afternoon was devoted to food. Aunt Gel brought us to Real Coffee, a little place right around the corner from our cottage. When the television series Globe Trekker featured Boracay, they showed their host patronizing the shop. I avoided a clump of dog poo on the path, but as I sniffed for odor, my nose was instead filled with the aroma of freshly baked goods. “It smells good here, so that’s a good sign,” I quipped as we entered.
The American lady behind the counter said her calamansi cakes were just about ready to come out of the oven, so we couldn’t resist trying them. She was the owner of the place and seemed like she was enjoying the laid-back lifestyle such a business gave her. As she served us and the other customers, she bopped to music playing on the small transistor radio. “I love this song,” she announced as the Square Heads’ single “Happy” started playing. She dispensed with electric coffee makers by brewing coffee using only a pot, a paper coffee filter, and a coffee machine’s funnel. We left Real Coffee feeling like we’d experienced something of the old Boracay.
Marielle and I headed back to the beach to bake — er, I mean chill out. The previous day, the owner of the Glimmer body art stall had introduced himself and one of his friends, and as we sat there waiting for sunset he, his friend, and another guy sat down with us. All three of them were businessmen, but two were based in Manila and had only come for a vacation. The owner of Glimmer had settled on Boracay and ran both his stall and an Ice Monster franchise.
We left the guys to have dinner at Hawaiian Barbecue, which was also near our cottage. (I don’t think we got out much during our stay on Boracay.) The restaurant was run by the same people who owned the Singing Cooks and Waiters Atbp. restaurants in Manila, and if they weren’t so concerned about providing fast fuss-free food service in Boracay, our waiters would have gladly displayed their vocal chops.
After stuffing myself and feeling like I didn’t belong in a bikini anymore, Marielle and I had coffee at Cafe del Sol, where the three guys joined us. We gabbed until midnight, when our internal Cinderella decided to go home. I had decided to wake up extra early. After all, we were leaving Boracay at 8am and I didn’t want to waste every last second I had on the island.
To be continued…