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Thursday, May 3, 2007

Finally, Diego!

We start out with disappointment, and end on a high note

The day started with a fiasco. (And sort of ended with one. Ha.) At Tamawan Vllage the day before, the ticket-taker had told us of a restaurant called "Eve's Garden." It sounded a bit like Sonya's Garden in Tagaytay, where we had had a literally stunning dining experience in October last year (it was so heavenly that, at one point while we were eating, Lila looked at me and asked innocently, "Are we dead?") So, despite having only the vaguest of directions, we figured Eve's would be worth it. (And, as Adam quipped, he just had to be with Eve!) So we jumped in a cab and set off. Numerous wrong turns and considerable wasted time later, we found it: and found that it was closed! I wish I had known then what I read today: "She serves-strictly by reservation and only for lunch" and "Diners should make reservations to Eve's Garden at least one or two days ahead of schedule." So if you try it, try dialing 09209476264 before you go. And the address is ME-132 Upper Lamtang, Brgy. Puguis La Trinidad, Benguet. Beware, though: This may not be 100% veg, or even offer a veg option; the second article says "The set menu includes...a choice of chicken, beef or seafood." But every article mentions that Eve grows "eleven [or thirteen] kinds of lettuce." So it's gotta be worth a shot.

After all that, we defaulted to mall food, if I remember correctly. It was Don Henrico's Pizza in SM Baguio, I think. Then we did a little malling. Lila and Adam (the hedonists) went for a massage, and I headed off to buy some books of Filipino folklore (and pick up our book from Kidlat Tahimik).

I was waiting in the Starbucks in the SM Baguio Mall for Lila and Adam to finish being pampered, when I met a character named "Baguio Bill" (not quite his real name) and his wife Mari-something. A retired American postal worker with a couple of ex-wives and a current very young Filipina wife, "Bill" fits the "older American, younger Pinay" stereotype a little better than Jim and Shanti, or Lila and me. If you don't know what I mean, I'm sorry, but I'll just have to stop here. To say too much more could be libelous. But Bob explained that he and his wife had recently had a fight; she had gone home to "the province," and had left him a message that she wouldn't come back until he gave her "one rose for every tear she cried..." I hope you get the picture...

And then... and then... BACK TO BLISS! Jim was out of town, but we saw Santosh again, and another Texas Instruments colleague, Waqar. Now, our friend Jim Ward commented on the above picture on Lila's Flickr site: "Truly a ROSE among several thorny looking vegetarians." And I just want to say: Thanks for the kind words, Jim. But I don't think Lila looks THAT thorny!

Adam and Lila got Bliss T-shirts (nothing in my size), and we got a little more time with Shanti than the night before. (That's her in white, between her daughter and Lila.) She's a devotee of Ananda Marga; Lila of Gaudiya Math. So as Jim and I talk Buddhism, they talk Hindu traditions, especially those well known in the Philippines. It's nice to be with like-minded people.

And then... ladies and gentlemen... give it up for the Bad Boy Bautista of Baguio...DIEGO! We had a chance to hang with him in the lobby of Iggy's for a while, where he announced--to our shock--that our rooms were our wedding present! No charge.

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The first time we met Diego, on that August 2005 trip, was quite an experience. We had dinner with Lila's best friend Cathy and her boyfriend Mike; then the girls headed off to a frat/sorority reunion, and Mike and I headed "home"--I to my room at Iggy's Inn. Now, the room had been arranged through Mike because Diego was his life-long friend. So at two a.m., when someone was pounding on my door and drunkenly yelling "Open up, man, it's Mike"--well, it was possible, but not likely. Mike had been so courteous... How could this be him?

I opened the door, and there stood Diego. "Aw, sorry man, I'm not Mike. I'm Diego. You James? Come on, man, let's go get laid!" "I can't do that," I reply, "my girlfriend is here." He tries to push past me: "Where?" "Well, not HERE here, but you know, around." "Aw, come on man..." and so on.

Cut to the next morning. A very contrite (and somewhat hung over) Diego offers to show us around. We saw quite a few of Baguio's sites in his sporty car, had a drink at the country club during a major storm (where we met Diego's old pal, whose family owns the oldest distillery in the Philippines), had a glass of wine at The Manor at Camp John Hay (a former US Air Force "R 'n' R" location) know, slummin' with a prince. As far as we could tell, his largesse was penance for his bad behavior the night before. Or maybe not.

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Back to the honeymoon: So we hung for a while with Diego, pre-packed, and rested up for the next day's bus trip.

See a list of all of Lila's photo sets on Flickr from this trip here.

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