Water And Washing

When we arrived to Puerto Galera, we visited the yacht club and then went straight to town. The flyer we’ve picked up at the tourist centre, described the town as “first class municipality”. It must be local demographic technical term, because that handful of streets hemmed by souvenir shops and bars full of fat old foreigners sipping on rum with water, the wet market hidden in poorly lit dirty yellow ground floor, reeking of raw meat, blood and fish, somehow does not fit the description “first class”.

Puerto Galera is first of all a touristy town. On the east side you will find a fishing village, but other than that you will mostly see tricycles, whose drivers constantly shout “White Beach” and “Sabang”, which are the names of the most famous local attractions.

But people come here for first class diving. Our mission wasn’t tourism, but a hunt for some fresh veggies and fruit.

We found that people here are not as friendly as the people of Olongapo. They keep a certain distance. After all, the typical foreigner they meet is a short term tourist or an expat and both mean quick money.  The younger world population that comes consists mostly of strapping divers and backpackers. Anyway, one feels like a walking wallet. On the other hand, our kind but refusing “thank you, not today” is reciprocated by smiles and not annoyed frown. The people of the Philippines are very endearing indeed.

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Soon we’ve seen the whole city and also found the wet market. This market lived up to its’ name. It was really well irrigated by puddles of muddy water, blood and slime. Our sandals squelched and our nosed were picking up whiffs of strange smells as well as scents of fresh mangos, bananas, plantains and melons. We picked up one stall in the back, right next to an alley where fishermen of their wives offered the catch of the last night. We were after zucchini and this stall had them, as well as plenty of other produce.

To our dismay the fruit was a little more expensive than in Olongapo. Vegetable had comparable prices, but perhaps, because this is a tourist town and most tourists won’t buy veggies, but only fruit, the offer was adjusted to the demand.  But all the fruit is sweet and refreshing beyond belief, so we have hardly any reason to complain.

We left the market loaded down with fresh produce. The thunder roared couple of times and when the first fat tropical raindrops hit our heads, we disappeared into a small hardware shop. We politely inquired about few spare parts we might use, but we didn’t expect them to be available in a small town like this. Then we lingered by the entrance to the shop and watched the rain come down in buckets.

Suddenly we noticed few people who ran stuck out pots and buckets to catch the rainwater – a sight we haven’t seen for a long time. It’s the end of the dry season and the water is scarce. When we inquired about water at the yacht club earlier that day, we were told that we can get it from them, but sometimes there is simply not enough. It is not surprising that people catch the rainwater.

Our new appreciation of the value of water was caused by the lack of cheap laundry. The yacht club charges 60 pesos per kilo, which we found a little to expensive (we paid 22 in Olongapo). We’ve heard about laundry in town, but couldn’t find and it and besides we wanted to experiment with a new technique, we’ve known about quite some time, but never tried it.

You simply put the cloths into a bucket with detergent and water for couple of hours and use a sink plunger to squash it from time to time.  The results are quite good. The more daring of us claim that it’s even better than the 30min automatic cycle in cold water that you get in Taiwan and most of the South-East Asia. And it doesn’t use that much water.

We started to value the water more than before. Naturally on a passage across a sea, your water supplies are limited and you can’t really depend on a rainfall. But the lack of drinkable water at sea is something to be expected and we go there knowing that we have to spare every drop. On the other hand, we you get to a populated area, where people dwell year in year out, and that is surrounded by a lush greenery, you expect that water is not a problem. The lack of it, somehow makes it even more precious than water at sea, because you expect it to be there.

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3 comments to Water And Washing

  • Amy & Paul

    We also found that things were much more expensive, even for the locals, in PG than Subic. Our friend we had with us, from Cebu, said the same thing. While there, try the local Batangas coffee, grounds of which are sold at the local supermarket just across the street from the entrance to the port road (or across from the German restaurant). Have a great time!

    • Petr

      Thanks Amy for confirming our suspicion :) We had a nice time here, now is time to set sail again. Also we still have a big stash of coffee beans from Taiwan and we really need to watch our waistline, I mean waterline…

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