Prepare for a feast. At all turns. Except for firecrackers on December, this city offers fun not just half-way, but all the way.
Be forewarned - this is the start of many. Let's do a bit of hiking after taking on beaches two blogs in a row. Where else would it best be - Davao, of course!
I will treat you to a rollicking ride in our red car cum van one more time. Overloaded. Again. This time there's 10 of us...and voila, no room for the food and all the luggage. I am glad tinted windows were invented! Bar none, Id be on a mask (though I remember wearing my largest sunglasses) during the trip in case people dared a peek inside. You see, each of us were assigned at least one bag. Remember, no more room...and the only available space was in our laps. So, that was how we looked like on our way to Eden Nature Park and Resort. Go picture. More cargo than human beings. If our uncle, who was driving, allowed us, he would have his share of the burden, too. But safety first, so he was exempted. We're getting good at bearing all the inconveniences for the sake of a much-needed family holiday.
Going there was a build-up of excitement as the route went uphill and the sights gradually transformed into mountains and a smattering of huts and fruit stands along the way. Getting off the car to a refreshing sight of greens and pine trees (said to be 100,000 of them around) was as close to paradise as one can imagine. So, we're inside Eden. This 80-hectare mountain resort has probably logged a million guests since it was discovered in 1971. That's just my best guess - judging from the non-stop flow of visitors decades after it was opened. The resort is always fully-booked, a favorite site for company events and family holidays. We did our reservation a month before - and got a nice, spacious log cabin that has a lot of room for all of us - and a niffy-little kitchen for a cook-fest.
Holidays are always synonymous with food for Filipinos. If you disagree I bet you're in the minority. I cannot remember so much fuzz about hiking and sights and reservations. It was food that was on top of the worry-list. Better to have more, than less, a battle cry that's becoming more and more painful to the wallet. I can hear my daughters' whining of "ruined diets" on the side, the same human beings who lugged all that grocery bags with junks. Does not add up - never will. For a close of few precious minutes, food was forgotten and exploration was on everyone's topmost agenda. I've been to Eden several times, but I found - this one's cheesy but true - a mountain of difference when you are with family. The rowdy cast definitely changes the landscape and the feeling. Ok, that's going farther than cheesy.
Eden lives up to its name. Paradise. Nature. Fresh air. A long array of floral delights. Greens and greens as far as your eyes can feast on. A gastronomical treat of organic food. Ever the self-proclaimed green thumb, my sister was beside herself with excitement. Her most pressing mission is how to bring a seed of this and that to add to her already crowded garden collection back at home, amidst reminders that its not allowed. Recently, I saw one floral vine nicely growing at home that looked familiar. Hmmnn, did she or didn't she? As soon as the bags were at our cabin's doorstep, everyone disappeared for a walking spree. At least there was hope for those calories to be burned after all. The orchard right in front of cabin was finally explored, fruit trees scrutinized and discussed extensively. My vocabulary lag by a hundred miles at these agricultural phenomenon so I just hemmed and hawed pointlessly. Now, you know when you want me quiet.
An herb and organic garden. There was basil, lettuce and rosemary along with others I completely forgot. There was grandma's garden with a buffalo and a cart. The buffalo has been there standing and accommodating visitors for decades so it mustn't be real. Close to is it a thatch-roofed bamboo hut - a copy of the typical house in the rural areas - although most people would prefer the hot tin roof nowadays. Detached from other cabins, the location was perfect for us. We can talk and shout the night away and nobody will protest. No air-conditioning needed. While the city itself is close to 30C at that time, Eden enjoys a cool breeze owing to the abundant trees around it. The night was chilly, everyone bundled up bracing for the next day's rolling junket. That is, after finishing off what was laid on the table.
Our big feat was that my 82-year old mom at least admitted she was enjoying the trip (after her near boycott). As I said, convincing her was like doing your algebra. There was at least a week of persuasive efforts to ge her to agree that the trip was way better than her rocking chair. The entire bunch had fun walking and running and catching-up with stories already told and re-told. The icy pool was not spared. Despite the cold water at dusk, everyone jumped in and swam as we continued to dig up family inanities and history out in the vault. Tip - if you're planning to document your family history, try bringing them to Eden. During conversations, my mom would chime in out of the blue (often out of context) and get us to laughing fits without really trying. Fading memory isn't that hopeless afterall. It has its own purpose and value - depending on what side you're looking at.
To be continued. 2.0 coming up.