Everything started off pretty smoothly and relaxed..it was the day we were going to Vigan, Illocos Sur to see the beautiful town and visit Ate Kathlea's family. It was a great morning, awesome breakfast, playing with Marquis and some packing. I still was struggling with jet lag, so I think I took a nap while everyone did some laundry. I was spoiled by everyone so I didn't have to do laundry. I took it slow, showered and got ready to go. We were supposed to leave around 2:30pm, when Marquis came back from school. I was excited and nervous because while I wanted to see a beautiful old town, I'm always scared of strangers. I remember thinking I hope they'd like me.
At around 2pm, I went to surprise Marquis with Tito Ric and Ate Kathlea, then shortly after that we were going to hit the road. Tito Ric drove the 'oldies,' and Kuya Miquo drove the cousins. We had a few pitstops before we were going on the highway. Kuya Miquo went to pray at the church, we picked up and snacks and stopped to get air on our gas...after all it was going to be a 6-7 hour road trip! After stopping at McDonald's we were ready to go.
We drove for around 2-4 hours before stopping for dinner. It was a cute restaurant/plaza area and I really loved the old country feel of the place. The food was alright, but the snacks were better. I think I bought some polvoron. We finally made it to Ate Kathlea's house and slept right away.
Mom wasn't feeling so great, and I thought she just had a stomach ache, but turns out she had a fever. As we entered our room, I saw Lola Senia hovering over my mom, whispering (what could spells) on her belly, like a witch! I still didn't realize the intensity of it, until I woke up at around 3am, with Lola Senia, Ate PR and Ate Nilda, frantically going crazy. Ate PR was massaging mom with an ointment, while Ate Nilda was running around doing what Lola Senia asked her to do. It was pretty intense, and I remember Lola Senia saying don't tell Mara her Mom's sick, even though she was already talking about it out loud. It wasn't funny at the moment, but we had a good laugh after. I mean imagine being woken up at 3am, and having a medical emergency like that!
The next day we had a nice spread and Ate Kathlea's dad picked some fresh mangoes for us. They weren't quite ripe, but it was still pretty awesome. Mom wasn't getting any better, so I was starting to worry, and Lola Terry started realizing that there's something wrong with Mom, so she started panicking. I'm pretty sure my mom got the most amount of massages in her life, within that whole 24 hours cause they kept assuming it would help. Which I think it did, but I wasn't sure about the medicine. They were insisting she take this one medicine, which helps break the fever. It wasn't working, so I started panicking and was like HOLD UP, I got Advil. My cousins were like Mara that won't work, that's for headaches! And I was like, nah, Mom take it. So Mom takes it, we all take a post breakfast nap, and voila two-three hours later, Mom feels 80 percent better! Good enough that she was able to join us for a tour of the town.
The afternoon was hot but so delightful. We got to eat at Max's chicken, I tried some dirty ice cream and we rode the kalesa. I always feel bad for the horses cause I keep thinking it hurts them to pull us...but it's their way of making money and horses ARE pretty strong. We also had some of the best, if not, THE BEST empanadas of my life. We walked around the streets, bought some souvenirs, looked at some of the older hotels in the area and finally headed off to the zoo.
I had always seen people pose in front of "Baluarte," and I've been wanting to go. However, as we got there, I didn't know it was Baluarte, so it was a pleasant surprise. I remember that the owner was talked so highly of because he rescued all the animals in the zoo, and he's some sort of rich guy who's also maybe a senator? His house on top of the zoo looks like a hotel, it's THAT BIG. And apparently Manny Pacquiao lives there.
Now, let's go back. We get on a cart and take a tour, and everyone's sort of in a hurry because it's almost closing time. If you look around the zoo, there aren't that many animals. It's very spread out, and a lot of the surroundings are trashed, and look dead. We go up to this museum, which has a bunch of stuffed animals. If someone loves animals that much...then why did he kill SO MANY and then hung them in pride? I try not to make it personal, but already I was disappointed in the experience. On top of everything Manny lives there. I know I'm going to get a lot of hate on this, but I don't see him as a personal hero. Sure he's done great things for the Filipino community, but he's done and said something which I do not agree with or respect. Plain and simple. Having him living in that zoo kind of ended the experience with a bad taste...on top of the half-assed "fire show." I'm thankful for having been given the opportunity to go see the zoo, but I would not recommend it to friends...waste of money.
I was pretty beat by the time we were heading back to the house, but when we got back a beautiful spread was made for us, and after that the party started! We sang karaoke until 10 or 11pm, when the barangay told us to shut down. It was so fun seeing everyone part take in the fun and seeing Lola Terry dance. Lola Senia slept through it, which was a bummer, but I'm glad my cousins got to share that moment with Lola Terry.
Needless to say, it was incredibly generous of the del Castillo's to let us stay in their home, so I'm thankful for that opportunity. They were fun and genuine people, and I hope to be able to interact with again someday.
Til Next Time,
I write, you read, we friends.