This was the plan:
But as all ambitious plans go, they are not necessarily followed and this is the latest iteration:
The wanderlust, itchy feet, spirit of escaping from the city into the UNKNOWN (with matching Frozen warble) has been hounding my husband and me. Jason has been craving to explore places that he has not been to in the Philippines while I’ve needed a real, work-free break, not a cheat break but an honest to goodness one. For the kids, this is the way we want to homeschool / worldschool on the road with all the stopovers, “Are we there yets,” exhaustion from long drives, bureaucratic nightmares of getting space in the boat made worthwhile by lying on the ferry roof deck staring at the stars (in their multitude, scarce to be counted).
Knowing how government services work in this country, I was prepared for the worst so it was an unexpected delight that the first RORO trip went smoothly with a two-hour ride from Manila to Batangas punctuated with an almost immediate usher into the belly of the ferry. However, the 7-headed Hydra of red tape reared their scary faces in the next port of Roxas. It took us a whole day to navigate our way to a coveted spot that had to be earned with sweat, asking too many questions and grease money. The frustrating, inconvenient truth was rewarded with the opportunity to sleep under a starry, starry night sky.
Thanks to Rachael, we were able to secure a booking in their favorite “suki” hotel in Boracay which was a surprise addition in the itinerary because I thought my husband didn’t want to go to what was certainly going to be an overcrowded pre-Christmas party. Since Joshua was a toddler when he last went and Jimmy wasn’t born then, we had to make the stop for the kids. I understood why Hey, Jude hotel in Station 3 was Rachael’s choice home away from home because the value was hard to beat. Unfortunately, they were fully booked on our second night so we had to find another place nearby and the choices paled in comparison.
Coincidentally and divinely, my sister and her family were in Boracay at the same time as us so we managed to have a quick reunion. The cousins were able to get the rare playtime on the beach and paddle board and laugh at Uncle Juan’s magic tricks.
Many years ago, my friends and I were walking along the powdery stretch of sand in Boracay and a person approached asking if there was a couple among us. I jokingly pushed two of our single friends and announced, “Here’s Mr. and Mrs. Lim!” They were offered an attractive deal from the newly opened Astoria hotel in Station 2. We were smart enough then not to take the bait but this time around, I was walking along Station 3 and lo and behold, there was a swanky new Astoria hotel. This time the offer of a free buffet lunch was too tempting to refuse. I knew they were going to sell me some sort of membership after our group of 6 enjoyed the sumptuous eat-all-you-can feast as well as the pure eye candy of interior design and a glass-sided swimming pool. After a tour of the impressive facilities, I had to artfully and diplomatically decline the proposal at the end of a well-rehearsed and strategized marketing spiel.
By the way, “Mr. & Mrs. Lim” eventually got married not long after that prophetic prank.
In Boracay, my niece Anita was looking for halo halo in coconut and they weren’t able to find before they flew back to Manila while we continued our road trip. We did find it in the food court of SM Iloilo where we headed next and where our effort to reach Bacolod was thwarted by an impending storm named Ursula.