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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Own a piece of the rock

Corregidor: it's where the Spanish collected shipping/harbor taxes. It means "collector." Seems like everyone has a rock. I met Joyce on the Rock: Shemya. A friend of mine taught on St Thomas: the Rock. Alcatraz: the Rock. People stationed in Hawai'i call their island the Rock. Malta, likewise, along with Gibraltar. It's not exactly original; more like ubiquitous. I bet Diego Garcia ia a Rock, also, along with Tristan da Cunha. Anyway, please be specific when discussing your particular Rock.

It takes half an hour by bus and then two hours by ferry to get to the Philippine rock. A lot of school groups were going out for the observances of the fall of Corregidor. Very crowded. Luckily I slept most of the way. On the way, of course, one wished to use the head. The toilet flushed, but of course, you could not throw toilet paper in there and flush that, because their plumbing can't handle toilet paper. So there was a can for it. Very quaint. Also the sinks didn't work, and you were supposed to pour a dipper of water from a bucket over your hands. Liberal use was made of hand sanitizer.

So we got off the boat and were immediately confronted with a form of transfortation called the "tranvia." This is Tagalog for "climb straight up the side like a ladder, and there's no air conditioning." Lovely for a tour in the jungle on which most participants are senior citizens. I still had enough upper body strength to do it, but the fellow with the cane, once he got up,he wouldn't get down until the end, and who could blame him?

You use the brass handles to haul yourself up there Then there are little wooden arm rests that come down which are supposed to keep you from flying out. Forget and you could be dead. It has happened. 
They took us first to the Corregidor Inn to check in. They call this facility "rustic." The only air conditioning is in the rooms, but you don't stay there much because there's a lot to see. Then we had lunch, before which we were served a welcome drink: "screw pine juice." Polish remover with jello on the bottom. Yum! Fred was the only one of us who could drink it. We all gave him ours.
Once again we were advised not to flush the toilet paper, which is just as yucky an experience as you can imagine. Fred resisted, and he wasn't the only one. He said he was going to throw his out the window, and let the monkeys deal with it, which got quite a few laughs. I had been through this a few times before and wasn't surprised, but I was just as disgusted as he. The problem is, their plumbing can't handle their toilet paper, which is very coarse, and making "fine" toilet paper is way too expensive. Hint: shake a little baby powder into the can every time you have to use it. Much better. Another hint: if this upsets you as much as it does me (I know, spoiled Americans) avoid third-world countries. I very much suspect this was my last trip to such a place. And now you begin to see why people piss everywhere: it's preferable to doing it indoors, especially at home. Hint three: if you are in a facility with public bathrooms, use them instead of the one in your room whenever practical.
After lunch it was back into the tranvia to tour the island. I spotted a place where Uncle Karl had had his picture taken while training here and they promised to take me back for a better view and pictures. We saw a lot of batteries and ruins of barracks and other facilities. All of the damage is a result of either the Japanese shelling the Americans to get them out, or the reverse, when the US and Philippines recaptured the island. They are still standing because they're concrete, although the jungle is doing its level best to take them back.

The last one amuses me. Sort of like the blind leading the blind. As always, click to enlarge. The Filipinas love to come out to the island for Ghost Tours around Halloween. You can see how they don't have to do anything but tell scary stories while riding around. They do this in the dark.
While on this tour, we stopped at one of 14 (you read it right) souvenir stands that all sell the same things. I got a pink Corregidor Island tee with a huge shore artillery emblazoned thereon. Joyce finds this amusing. I also fell and tore my knee open, but Carol was right there to take care of me, and there's a nurse at the hotel for just such occasions. He dressed it for me three days straight, no problem. I even got to go swimming.
The next day we had a hilarious time at this pool, but I'll save that for the next entry. After dinner that night, we all fell into bed (which was perfectly decent despite the rusticity of the Inn) because they had threatened us with more tours the next day. 

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