Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The Philippines Trip - August 29 - 30, 2011 - The Perfect Storm


So, after our pleasant little diversion at the Loon Macaques Sanctuary, we headed back to Mia and Stuart's house.  As the miles passed by, I drank more and more of that bottle of chocolate milk I had purchased a couple of hours earlier.

It had been a long time since I had drank milk.  Because of my lactose intolerance problem, I normally drink soy milk.   However, my body is not consistent when it comes to dairy products.  For instance, I generally have no problem eating yogurt.  I eagerly devour pizza covered with mozzarella cheese and suffer no ill effects.   Apart from milk, probably the only other dairy product that I can't handle is ricotta cheese.  Usually the worst I suffer is a bout of diarrhea and within an hour I am back to normal.  While I was drinking the chocolate milk, the possibility of developing that urgent need to suddenly evacuate my bowels was there in my mind, but I figured I knew the worst I could expect.

By the time we had gotten back to Mia and Stuart's house, I think I was already beginning to feel those first signs that trouble might be afoot.  But that was not the only problem.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, to get back and forth from Cebu to Bohol, we rode the fast ferry.  Me being the organized planner that I am (at least when it comes to planning vacations), I had ordered the tickets for the Supercat fast ferry before we had left the United States.  Our original departure date from Bohol back to Cebu was supposed to be Monday, August 29.  When Stuart had e-mailed me that they planned to take us to Danao Adventure Park on that day, I contacted Supercat and told them that instead of August 29, we needed to change our reservations for the trip back to Cebu to August 30.  They answered me acknowledging the change in the itinerary.

When we had arrived at the Supercat terminal the previous week to board the ferry for the trip to Bohol, we were also given our tickets for the return trip back to Cebu.  In retrospect, I should have looked at them when they were given to me, but I didn't.   So, back at the house in Loon, hoping against all hope that I would avert the impending shit storm that was waiting to unleash its fury on me, I pulled out our Supercat ferry tickets to give them a look over to make sure everything was in order and then my jaw hit the floor.  The date on the tickets for the return trip to Bohol was Monday, August 29, 2011.

"Oh, Mia!" I called out to my lovely sister-in-law, "I think we have a problem here."   I explained the situation to her and she said she would call the ferry company, but she cautioned me that there could be a problem because it was a holiday in the Philippines (National Heroes Day, I believe), which meant that the ferry office would have a skeleton crew and the ferry for the next day might be sold out.

My sister-in-law Mia at work in her garden.

The first thing you need to understand about Mia is that she is a lawyer who often argues cases in court before a judge.  Sure, she may look sweet and innocent enough in the picture above, but from the way she argued my case on the phone with whoever the hapless person was at the Supercat ferry who had the misfortune to answer her phone call, I could get a sense of what it must be like to be grilled by her on the witness stand in a court room.

Mia relentlessly hammered away at the Supercat representative, pointing out that they had acknowledged by e-mail the change of date of our departure before my family and I had even left the Philippines.  She refused to take no for an answer and kept insisting that the ferry company had to provide us with tickets for the 12:00 ferry ride to Bohol the next day.

I think it was around this time that I was enduring my first attacks of the brown tide.  To my dismay, it kept coming on wave after wave far beyond what I would have expected.  But that was not the worst of it.  At that cafeteria back at Danao Adventure Park hours earlier, I ate a plate full of thick noodles.  Now I was starting to feel this heavy sensation in my chest.   While I was sitting on the toilet unleashing a veritable waterfall of diarrhea, I felt the unmistakeable need to puke.  Thankfully, the bathroom sink was just a couple of feet in front of me, so as soon as I felt a lull in shitstorm, I leaned forward and heaved into the sink what looked like the equivalent of a bowl of noodle soup.  And then I heaved some more.

I couldn't help but ponder the terrible arc of my day.  That morning, I had zipped across a canyon on the Suislide and did The Plunge.  I had gone from feeling like hot shit to unleashing hot shit.  And from there, my stomach had become a Mount Vesuvius of vomit.

During a merciful lull in my excretory activities there was some news to cheer me up.  Mia informed me that her negotiations were successful and that tomorrow the Supercat would have tickets for us for the 12:00 fast ferry to Cebu.

Sadly though, the puking continued.  Even worse, the sink in our bathroom, filled to capacity with my vomit, was clogged and would not drain.  I was also becoming rather dehydrated, as I could not hold any fluids down.  At one point, my wife and her sisters Mia and Myla (who was staying with us that night) discussed the possibility of taking me to the hospital, but I wasn't enthusiastic about that idea.

Weakened though I was, I undertook the unpleasant task of emptying the bathroom sink of my afternoon lunch by dipping a small cup into it and then pouring it into the toilet.   It was a rather tedious affair that probably took the better part of an hour before the sink was largely empty.  After that, I collapsed onto the bed, while Mia was able to unclog the drain and my poor sister-in-law Myla mopped the floor.   An inglorious end to what had initially been a glorious day.  And all because of my stupidity in drinking a bottle of chocolate milk.

During the night, I was able at last to sip and hold down some Gatorade.  The next morning we gathered all our things and rode in Stuart's truck to my wife's parents house in Tagbilaran.  A little later we got our tickets and we drove to the pier, where we said goodbye to the family before entering the ferry terminal.  It had been four years since we had last visited them and hopefully it won't be that long before we see them again.

The ferry ride was uneventful, and a little over an hour and a half later we caught our taxi to take us to the beautiful Shangri-la resort in Mactan.   We ate dinner at one of the restaurants in the resort and then relaxed in one of the pools while my daughter made repeated runs down the water slide.  It was time for some rest and recovery before moving on to the next leg of our trip, the city of Taipei in Taiwan.

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