The jeepney rumbled off and we were left to soak in the peaceful atmosphere, hardly anyone around, no bustle of any kind ,just peace and the glorious knowledge of being in parts less travelled. As luck would have it – or should I say the kindness of Anne and Louie, who sorted this adventure out for us as a wedding gift – we landed in Suzette’s homestay which had the best view of the rice terraces.
It is certainly a place conducive to writing, especially on the balcony where all the residents can gather and load up on the free coffee, encouraged by the friendly and welcoming staff. That first afternoon – just before a generously proportioned meal of chicken and rice – I sat to reflect on our first short walk just taken and the journey that we undertook to get here. The view (below) was what met my gaze. A gentle breeze was blowing, a few birds and crickets making their own casual noise, a distant bark of one of the many dogs that roam free up here and plenty of sunshine, It is just the sort of place one would come to write a novel.
With homestays and hostels, there is always a high chance of meeting some really interesting people and as the sun went down, we made the acquaintance of good number of such people. Plenty of stories of past hikes were being exchanged, mostly in Tagalog which was fine, I got the gist but also enjoyed the game of working out what was being said and piecing sentences together as the rapid fire of conversation bounces around me.
I let the back-and-forths wash over me, keeping only half an ear on its progress, as I gazed out at the darkening scene, the hills slowly becoming mysterious, looming silhouettes. Every so often a lone traveller’s light would be seen somewhere out in the darkness cautiously making its way over the path between the rice terraces from one of the houses dotted sparingly about. It reminded me of a book I had when I was young, featuring a memorable story of Will-o’-the-Wisp who lured a small boy to a cruel fate. The only other thing I remember about that book is the cover which had a central picture backed by a tasteless bright orange border. The association with my current surroundings and the heat from the coffee, as the weather started to close in made me extremely happy and fortunate.
Heading to bed to catch up on some much-needed, uninterrupted sleep, we looked forward to the adventures of the next day which I shall in a symmetrical fashion reveal to you the next day.