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May 25, 2008 / calebdresser


Just got back from our weekend at the beach in Batangas province. The whole crowd of us headed down there on Saturday, which was a surprisingly long four hour trip, given that the roads here are pretty well maintained. Traffic was the real problem – it seems the region is outgrowing its infrastructure. Along the way, we stopped in Liliw, a mountain town whose main features seemed to be the old brick church and the dozens upon dozens of stores selling shoes.

The beach was definitely needed after the intensity of the classes here – it was rather amusing watching a bunch of busy, motivated scientists slow down and take in the pace of life in Laiya. Someone running the course thought we needed a “breaking of the ice”, which came in the form of a seven foot diameter volleyball painted to look like a globe. The locals roared with laughter as we stumbled around, but were soon playing themselves.

We went snorkeling in the afternoon, and then had a supper of rice and fish that rapidly turned into a beach party. I ended the evening with the British and Korean contingents in a second-floor open air bar watching the distant fires of fishing boats on the Sibuyan Sea while the Polish postdoc entertained an appreciative Filipino audience on the dance floor. The next morning, Nick (U.K.-NIAB), Ed (U.K.-NIAB), and I woke up early, and were out on the water by 6:15, hoping to find better conditions in the early morning. The boats used in this part of the coast are slender double-outrigger canoes, fast and stable if you don’t mind a little swaying, and not too different in concept from the vessels that were used to colonize much of Polynesia.

The reef was beautiful, conditions about thirty feet visibility in warm water over hard coral at depths of 5 to 15 feet. I saw parrotfish, oarfish, a lone and very fast-moving two foot grouper, and hordes of the usual little reef fish that inhabit these places. Coral heads rose out of grey sand and were dotted with interesting trenches and grottoes. We swam for over an hour.

On shore, several of us walked up a stream past people washing clothes and cattle hiding from the heat in the brush by the water. I spent the rest of the day napping, talking about dilemmas in international development, and bouncing north on the bus ride home.



Leave a Comment
  1. Joe Mercado / May 25 2008 1:29 pm

    Hey Caleb,

    Good to hear from you!!! I’m glad you are doing well and obviously having a good time ie getting frisky with a water buffalo ;). i actually texted you about 2 weeks ago because I had remembered your great attempt to get my to ride a bike with all of Alex’s frustration =). Have a good summer and I will now keep up on your blog.
    I am working at UVa this summer (kinda boring compared to everyone else, but very cool). I work in a GI lab over there.
    Thank you for the unforgettable summer experiences from last summer.


  2. Amy Freitag / May 26 2008 6:05 pm

    news from the homefront: all of us seniors are officially alumni 🙂 it was a beautiful weekend for everything

    snorkeling sounds like fun! are the reefs similar to those around australia or are they far enough to harbor different creatures?
    Sounds like the diverse contingent you’re with will be good experience for your future career in the UN as an amazing expert on food security in the international development realm 😉

    Random question, but does the unhusked kind of brown rice take longer to cook than the processed white kind? Because in addition to how it looks, that might be a factor.

  3. calebdresser / May 27 2008 12:15 am

    Yes, the less milled brown rice takes longer to cook than the heavility milled white rice. In addition, the brown part of the rice tends to have a shelf life of only about two weeks in this climate.


  4. Becky / May 27 2008 3:45 am

    Watch out for sharks!!!

  5. Margaret McCandless / May 27 2008 3:55 pm

    Brown rice, white rice.
    Does the smaller investment in milling (brown) balance the greater investment in cooking time? Brown rice should be cheaper due to less work done on it. Brown rice isn’t cheaper in my market, since more shoppers here buy white. It’s mystifying. Brown taste good! I sure wonder what the next 2 years and 200 years will bring.
    Great blog, Caleb. Do some of your classmates have blogs, too? Great photos!

  6. Winslow / Jun 11 2008 4:47 pm

    Just got back from my cross country trek a couple days ago, and I’m catching up on your blog. I love the picture of the earth being used as a volleyball. I glanced at it before I read, and I thought you must have photoshopped it as some sort of ironic statement about the human condition. Glad to see that all is going so well! I’ve been passing your blog address along to such people as Brian and Miriam Barber and Marian’s father Gorgon. Everyone who hears about it is fascinated by your adventures.

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