This past weekend (March 23-24) we drove all the way to Gabaldon on Saturday and stayed overnight there, rather than staying in Cabanatuan. We arrived at about 2 pm on Saturday and spent the afternoon and evening with the people there. So come along with us on our adventures as we write about them on the next few blogs.
Our first adventure is a hike to Brother Lando's mango orchard. Pile into our car with us to drive a few kilometers to the river, where our hike will begin.
Left to right: Abegail, Melanie, Jose, Rochelle, Sis. Liwanag, Princess (her head is just visible). Bro. Lando, Bro. Melencio and Jiro (not visible) are in the back.
After we park the car we get to wade across the river. (When my husband went last year, soon after the rainy season, they had to take rafts across the river because the water was too deep.) Today you might get a little wet, but it feels good in the heat!
Our hike (approximately 1.5 miles one way) then takes us past some fields (onions) and through the woods with lots of interesting plants and discoveries along the way.
Onion fields to the left
Through the woods
A pod from a cotton tree. The white fluffy stuff makes a great filler for pillows.
In the mango orchard
A beautiful bunch almost ready for harvest
Enjoy the shade of a mango tree with us. The fish pond in the back is also on Bro. Lando's land and sometimes supplies fish for their suppers.
Since the orchard is a long walk from home, the bahay kubo provides a place to cook and eat your lunch, to have a siesta in the heat of the day, or even to sleep overnight if necessary.
Jose and Rochelle having some fun
Next to Brother Lando's orchard, you're able to see the tomato field belonging to one of the members of the fellowship, Nanay Adeling.
We then cross the path and climb down to an area full of coconut trees and get treated to a buko (young coconut) picnic. The Filipinos call the coconut tree the tree of life because it has so many uses. Every part can be used - the coconut juice and meat for food, the shells for fires (they make charcoal out of it), utensils and decorative items, the leaves for weaving and wrapping, the trunks for building and paper, etc.
To get the coconuts down you use a long bamboo pole with a metal hook on the end. Just hook a single or group of coconuts, make sure no one is standing underneath, give a good pull and down they come. Give it a try! Rev. Kleyn did and got two down with one pull.
Pulling down the coconuts
The men have opening the coconuts down to a science. Three chops with the bolo knife to just the right depth in the top of the coconut. Then pull the triangular wedge out to expose a thin skin. Peel that back and enjoy your refreshing drink on a hot day!
You can see the one on the left is already cut open.
Jose loved them! He even carried one all the way home.
After the juice is gone (about 1.5 cups of clear liquid) your coconut is chopped in half and you can scrape out and eat the thin layer of white meat.
Making a scoop from the shell
Eat it however you want. There are no rules of etiquette in the bush!
Sated. The remains of our picnic.
Now it's time to head back to the car. We took a different way back, through a dry wash, along a stream, and then across the river once again. Enjoy your botany lesson along the way!
Camansi (or breadnut) fruit. Now I know where they got the idea for those spikey rubber balls that kids play with.
Banana tree heart. You can cook and eat these in various dishes, although this one apparently wasn't at the right ripeness and would be sour.
Not sure of the name of this one, but don't eat it! It's poisonous.
Looking for a spot to put a pipe to collect spring water.
Camachili from a nearby tree. Peel open the pod and eat the fruit. Not ripe yet though. The web says these trees are in the States too.
Liwanag caught this little guy near the bank of the river. Supper anyone? ;-)
Stay tuned for part 2!