Philippine Adventure - Day 1

Day 1 map

Tuesday 9/5, Iloilo to San Jose de Buenavista - 63 miles

"Hey Joe!"

I had planned to get an early start on the first day of my tour, but I awoke to the sound of thunder and a heavy downpour, so I went back to sleep. I woke Mom up around 8. It was a good thing because she hadn't heard that the Plourds, an American missionary couple, were to pick her up at 9 for a car trip into the countryside. Uncle Dave showed up a bit after 8 and we three had breakfast at the hotel. I had 5 pancakes and most of a large bottle of water. Stoking up for the tour.

Typical house in the countryside By then the rain had stopped, so I prepared to go. But by the time I was ready, it was coming down in buckets again. So I donned the rain cape, spats and helmet cover. By the time I got all that stuff out of the panniers and attached to my body, the rain was starting to let up again. Within a couple of miles the cape and helmet cover came off. I kept the spats on for awhile to protect my shoes and legs from mud thrown up by the front tire. I had fenders but no mudflaps.

Filipinos are incredibly friendly! Almost immediately people started calling "Hey Joe!" as I went by. If I had a peso for every "Hey Joe" or "Hi Joe" I heard today, I could pay for the trip! It was almost constant all day long. People on the street and in passing jeepneys would smile and/or wave. "Where are you going?" "Hello friend!" and just "Hello!" were less common greetings.

Banner over street: 'Guimbal Annual Town Fiesta' When I stopped on a street corner to apply sunscreen a young Filipino boy watched in fascination. He had kind of a "Yuck!" expression on his face. I doubt he understood why the big white-skinned foreigner was smearing that greasy gunk all over his face and body.

Before long I was out in the countryside. It turns out the Plourds were taking Mom in the same direction, and they passed me in their van not long after. As I rode along, whenever I saw a cleaner-than-normal-looking roadside store I stopped to get a Coke. The going rate seems to be 6 pesos (13 cents) a bottle. (You rarely find it in cans.) Pepsi is only 5 pesos. Coke must have a better ad campaign here.

The famous church in Miagao I arrived in Miagao, home of the famous national landmark church, around noon. I was hoping Mom and the Plourds might still be there, but no such luck. I bought a gallon of water and some sweet rolls in a "supermarket." The only place to eat I could see was a fast food restaurant. (I know it was fast food, because the sign said "Fast Food".) Not much to choose from -- several pans of pre-cooked food that looked like it had been sitting there for quite awhile. I finally bought a piece of fried chicken and a pastry. I probably should have eaten in Guimbal, the previous town. It seemed to have more of a business district.

Cattle lying by the side of the road with cyclist I spoke for some time with a friendly policeman in Miagao. He recommended a place to stay in San Joaquin. But 35-40 miles seemed an awfully short day, so I decided to press on to Anini-y on the coastal road at the southwest tip of Panay. There are supposed to be homestay places there.

Three-wheeled motorcycle with several people in passenger compartment

Clouds and mountains with dense vegetation in foreground But I missed the turn for the coastal road and continued on the main road toward San Jose. Over the mountain pass! The ride had been flat up to that point. The long steep climb near the end of the hot, humid day about did me in. With my late start I didn't get into San Jose until about a half hour before sundown. I stopped at a gas station to ask directions to the hotel listed in my guidebook, Annavic Plaza Hotel.

Looking out over the ocean with houses and palm trees in foreground They had never heard of it, but one fellow was kind enough to give me a ride in his pickup truck to the "Binirayan Cottages" on a dirt road a couple miles from the center of town. They did have one of the four units available, and the room is very nice. But I worried about finding my way into town to a restaurant in the dark. The fellow with the pickup truck drove me to town and back so I would know the way.

That was extraordinarily kind of him, but by the time I showered and changed and called Mom on the cell phone, it was pitch dark and Mr. "Directionally Challenged" couldn't find his way on the bike. So dinner consisted of sweet rolls and water. With my small lunch earlier, I may be in trouble tomorrow. I do get a free breakfast with the room.

Looking out to sea with palm trees and outrigger boats on the beach

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