Tuesday, September 29, 2009

home sweet apartment

after much searching and 12 hour delay emailing back and forth with the property manager and the work managers...we got an apartment for next round! we're very excited to end our year with a little slice of normalcy.

the apartment is located in condado. this is great neighborhood just outside old san juan that has the beach, shopping, restaurants, bars, etc. we'll actually be just 4 blocks from the beach and get ready folks- there are at least 4 mexican restaurants in walking distance. as you can imagine, the wife is beside herself.

we have a spare bedroom with a twin bed, a trundle, and a pullout sofa. so seriously, if you want to come visit this is your perfect opportunity to do so on the cheap. if you've never been to puerto rico before it's really a great place to vacation. that's why we've been so many times before ;)

if you do want to come please email me so we can work out dates. we're planning on doing some weekends on the island and we'd like to coordinate those with visitors. we'd love, love, love to have you so if you want to get a tan before christmas let us know asap.

and if someone wants to give me a refresher course on how to wash clothes that would be great.

how to help

the damage is incomprehensible, the death toll is still rising, so many people, including local coke employees, are still missing and to make it worse more rain is on the way.

if you want to help you can donate online to the red cross.

Monday, September 28, 2009

we're okay, but so many are not

a tropical storm dumped about 14 inches of water in 6 hours in the philippines this weekend. that is more than what katrina did over two days. although we experienced just a couple of downpours and some cloudy skies here in cebu, 80% of the nation's capital is flooded. 300,000 have been affected, including some members of jules' team and their families.

i know that everyone back home has seen how truly devastating flooding can be and hope you can send some prayers this way. many of these people live day to day in conditions you just cannot imagine in the first place....so, to lose the little that they had is just heartbreaking.

Friday, September 25, 2009

down time

we've decided to stay put this weekend. since we just got back monday evening it seemed silly to pack back up 3 days later just to go lay on another beach or at another pool in bohol. we still plan on going back to see the sights there and again, with being in cebu we don't really have a ton of other options.

my goal for the weekend, other than enjoying some qt with just the Wife, is to work on these funky tan lines i have going on.

at first i thought it was remnants of the sunburn bib i gave myself in peru. but now i'm fairly certain that at some point a very wide strap was laid across my right shoulder and chest without my knowledge. from the color difference i'm going to guess it was there for at least two hours.

wth? where did this weird line come from?? i'm going to look like a patchwork quilt by the time we get home for christmas.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

7 days

until pablo makes it to the philippines!

could not be more excited!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


This entry may read more as a hotel review than usual but when you stay at the Pearl Farm Resort that is kinda the point…you stay. It is a 45 minute boat ride out to the resort from Davao City. There were four of us from Cebu and two others met up with us from the Manila team so we had rented a villa. The villas are located on a small private island so once you check in you’ve got to get on another boat to reach it. The private island is separate from the rest of the resort so to get to the bar, restaurant, pool, front desk, water sports, etc you had to take the boat back over.

Davao is supposed to have a few things to do in terms of sights but the main reason any tourists comes is to stay at the Pearl Farm.

We arrived early evening on Friday and after checking out our open air villa we hopped back on the boat to the parola bar to enjoy the amazing sunset and happy hour. There is only one restaurant at the resort so you either hit the buffet or order room service. It was “Pirate Night” at dinner. So, we of course went to check it out.

The buffet was brimming with fresh seafood, wonderful salads, local fruits and far more food than you could ever even try. But the highlight of pirate night was by far the dance troop who, although dressed as pirates, danced to anything but pirate music…whatever that is. Keeping in pirate tradition we also played bingo and did the limbo. It was good ol’ cheesy fun…

We hung out at the bar after dinner while we waited on the girls from Manila to arrive and after a nightcap all headed back across the water to our villa.

Jules and I were up quite early thanks to some construction in the neighboring villa on Saturday morning. Feeling tired, the day was spent lounging in the sun, doing a little bit of snorkeling on the small beach on our island, complaining to management and relaxing.

That night we repeated our happy hour/dinner/nightcap routine although this time it was Filipino fiesta night. They actually stuck to the theme so unfortunately there were no random games.

After breakfast on Sunday we all went on a three hour snorkeling tour. We first went to a coral garden, which was nice enough in terms of coral and fish but the water in the area was heavily polluted. Yuck. After knocking my head on two coconuts, again on a huge piece of wood and dodging wrappers and trash I thought the trip was going to be a bust.

That was until we got to the second location. No trash or coconuts in sight it was already looking up. But, it wasn’t until we looked below the surface that we realized how amazing the day would turn out.

There was a huge wall of intensely colored coral that dropped off sharply seemingly into an abyss. Snorkeling along the drop-off we were blown away not only by the plant life but the dizzying array of fish and other sea creatures. It was truly stunning. I regret so much not having an underwater case for my camera to share some of what we saw. Although I don’t think any photo could ever do the experience justice.

We got back to the resort in time for some of the girls to hit the spa and to grab a late lunch. A wedding was being held on our island and we had been tromping through the preparations for two days. Jules and I made a point of going back to the villa well before it actually started so we could shower before dinner. It was at this point we all realized how much sun we had gotten. All of us were a little crispy on the backside but a few, including the Wife, got charred. Even with 60 spf her thighs and shoulders were fire engine red by the time we went to dinner. We had to tromp back through the reception area just as the bride was about to walk down the aisle. We crept along the side as much as we could but there was no ignoring their wedding cake…

They had actually built scaffolding around the cake for the decorators to finish it up. Of course 99% of it was inedible but it was actual fondant and icing on the styrofoam structure.

Despite the sunburns and with the aid of some after-sun lotion, a handful of advil and a lot of cocktails we made it through dinner. No theme that night but we did enjoy the musical stylings of cute little duo who took us through a tour of 70’s, 80’s and 90’s easy listening.

We hung around until we thought it was safe to sneak back through the wedding reception. When we arrived back on the island we found it was a pretty subdued reception with everyone just listening to the band. This made it a bit harder to go by unnoticed. Although this did help us score some wedding cake from one of the waiters.

Thanks to the construction, wedding preparations and a few other issues the GM of the hotel had given us a couple of massages, which our crispy selves traded in for hand and foot treatments on Monday morning. Afterwards, we leisurely packed up and made our way back to Davao and eventually Manila and Cebu respectively.

The Pearl Farm is definitely a treat. It’s in a gorgeous setting and really has a lot to offer in ways of ambiance and romance. We had a few issues come our way that we’d like to think were out of the ordinary for the hotel. If we come back to the Philippines next year we’ll be sure to give it another shot.

This weekend we’re still debating on whether to stay here or take the ferry over to Bohol…guess we’ll just have to see.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


one of the reasons i had hoped to be in manila this round was because the team stays in corporate apartments. actually that was my one and only reason. i miss cooking, having our own space and thought it would be a nice break from the hotel life in general.

although we have the option of finding apartments wherever we get assigned, i haven't been too interested in it. i don't know, i like having a concierge and front desk to run to when i am new to a foreign country. to me it just makes sense to stay in a hotel when you're in an unfamiliar environment.

that said, since san juan is fairly familiar territory we decided to look into getting a place.

i'm not sure why i thought it would be easy. how quickly i've been reminded just how much i really do hate apartment hunting. the fact that it needs to be furnished only adds an extra thick layer of frustration.

why do people who obviously have enough income to own a rental condo on the beach have such horrendous taste? can't they hire a designer or at the very least pick up a decor magazine from this decade?? where on earth do they find such pitiful pieces and how do they ever think to put them all together??

if i see one more palm tree patterned futon i'm going to puke.

hilton here we come!

Monday, September 14, 2009


travel from cebu is not very convenient. the flight times for international as well as domestic flights are actually so inconvenient that we'll probably only leave the country once while here and haven't planned much for domestic jaunts either.

however, cebu is just a short 2 hours on a ferry to the island of bohol. which, is where we were off to this weekend and where we'll be going back at least once, if not twice more before we leave the philippines. we booked a little villa at a small resort on panglao island and arrived friday evening.

bohol has quite a few things to offer in ways of sights and excursions but, in truth, we ventured no further than to the restaurants down the beach all weekend.

our hotel was located at the end of a nice little stretch of beach and sort of perched up on a cliff. with a lovely breeze blowing off the water and a beautiful view of the beach and ocean it was a perfect place to just rest and relax. not to mention catch up on all the sleep lost to jet lag.

since we'll be making more trips there we felt no pressure to run around taking in the island. next time we'll definitely get out and about more but, until then there isn't much more to tell.

this weekend we're meeting up with some of the gals from the manila team in davoa. aka- more beach time!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


hmmm, we're going to be living on hot and humid islands until christmas...maybe i should cut my hair off again.

love these kids

um, i just came across this randomly and it almost made me wet my pants. i'm sure it has gone completely viral and you've all had it forwarded to you. but, i thought i would share if you haven't yet seen this hilarity...

weekend goal

i have got to get a pic of us here in the philippines to switch out with that glacier picture above. wow, it makes me sweat just looking at us all bundled up like that...oh, wait...i'm already sweating and have been since we landed in toyko. wow, it is so hot and humid here! after our year round winter, i, for one, am completely loving it though!!

we're taking a ferry over to bohol this weekend to relax on another beach at another resort. yes, it is a tough, tough life.

interweb is spotty here so i'll do my best to keep things updated as much as possible.

hope everyone has a lovely weekend!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


As soon as we found out we were headed to the Philippines our first priority was to plan a trip to visit our dear friends, Kristy and Will, in Tokyo. Although we were spent after flying from Argentina and our crazed schedule at home we got on a flight Wednesday afternoon for our 14 hour journey to Asia. The flight was actually much better than our flight home had been, although Delta/Northwest have seriously become my least favorite airline in the world but, that is a whole other blog entry.

The Japanese are known for their orderliness and efficiency and from the moment we disembarked we found this to be true. It was a painless airport experience and with Kristy’s instructions we easily made our way into Tokyo.

We all went out for a traditional yakitori dinner that night-the ultimate food on a stick experience. Neither of us had slept much on the flight so after dinner we turned in pretty early.

Kristy had been kind enough to plan our days and Friday morning we headed out to the emperor’s palace, then to a Buddhist shrine, had a yummy noodle lunch and enjoyed some local brew at the Asahi brewery before heading back for a much needed siesta. We were actually 13 hours ahead at that point and in truth Jules and I were pretty pitiful.

We went out for sushi that night and as soon as I can I will put an entire entry about this experience on our food blog. I have no idea how Kristy and Will will ever be able to eat sushi anywhere else and not be disappointed.

Saturday we headed out to a festival but found it was little more than kids dancing. They were precious but we decided to head up into a neighboring building and have lunch with an incredible view of Tokyo. It is a huge city with some incredible architecture.

Next time we come I totally plan on dorking it up and doing an entire day if not more just checking out their buildings. Cross your fingers we get to go there for a round because that is not going to be an easy sell with the Wife ;)

After lunch we went to the beautiful Meiji Shrine just outside Yoyogi Park. It was nestled in very dense woods and profoundly peaceful and serene.

We were lucky enough to catch a few brides but my favorite was this little wedding goer. I cannot tell you how proud I am of us for not kidnapping her...

We walked a bit in Yoyogi afterwards and then made our way back into K & W’s neighborhood for some green tea ice cream. It was a perfect treat on such an incredibly hot and muggy day. Even being from Georgia we were both taken aback by the extreme humidity there.

We went into Ginza, a shopping and entertainment district, for dinner that night. It was what we think of when we think “Tokyo”…huge billboards, flashy lights, hordes of people, etc. We ate at a Izakaya restaurant that night and it was another great meal experience. Unfortunately, we were still very lame and opted to go back to K & W’s apartment to hit the hay. I fully admit I was the ring leader and went to bed at precisely 9pm. Which was the earliest Jules would let me.

We spent a leisurely morning together before having to say goodbye and make our way back to Narita for our afternoon flight to Cebu. Our first real Asian city could not have made a better impression. We completely fell in love!

We can’t begin to thank Kristy and Will for their hospitality. We had an amazing time and never once had to struggle figuring out where to go, where or what to eat, how to get there, how to pay, etc. It was an awesome thing to get to just relax and enjoy a foreign city and even better to do so with such great friends. We hope so much to catch up with them again before they leave Japan next year. Next time we promise not to be so tired!!

home sweet home

It’s rare for the Americans to swing a trip home during the year. It usually requires either an assignment in Mexico or an in-between trip from South America to Asia. Thinking, or in truth hoping, we’d be spending the remainder of the year in Asia we decided to use vacation time to come home and booked a trip for 5 days in Atlanta.

Georgia decided to forego the red carpet and instead greet us with a soaking wet reception the minute we got off the plane. I can’t say that the torrential downpour through downtown’s morning commute was exactly heartwarming but as soon as Pablo opened the door and our little Monkey came running out we knew we were home.

No matter how exciting our life may be at present, the desire to be around those who really know and love us is always there. It is far too easy to feel out of sight and out of mind when you’re so far away. So, to have so many of you come out really meant the world to us. We can’t thank you guys enough.

5 days is not a lot of time to squeeze in friends, family, doctor appointments, shopping, errands, mexican food, etc. It was a whirlwind of a trip with absolutely no down time. But, through the hectic schedule and sheer exhaustion it still felt incredible to put our arms around loved ones and just be ourselves.

We seriously miss you guys already but take comfort in knowing we’ll be seeing you again very soon. Love y’all!

p.s. If you have pics from Saturday night can you email them to me? I'm a moron and deleted the few I had before uploading (see previous entry about my brain not working thanks to the jet lag). Thanks Ann for these!

Sunday, September 6, 2009


3 continents in 9 days...hopefully this week my brain will start functioning at full speed and i can get caught up.

of course this will only happen when my body decides it shouldn't be waking up at 4am every single morning. oh jet lag, how i hate thee.