06 June 2011

Calbayog Airport Carinderia

The carinderia table usual suspects: utensils, tissue, salt, pepper, fish sauce.

Where to gather information about a place before venturing out? We always check out local carinderias, coffee shops, or the type of restaurant that has "regulars" (or, in other settings, tables with assortments of events flyers or local papers) before venturing out into a completely strange place. This is because, when you buy a meal (or even a rice cake) from someone, you are automatically granted the right to ask questions without being a pest.

The very helpful lady we pestered at our first stop.

In addition, by asking peripheral questions, you get a better idea of the context that now surrounds you.

By the extreme curiosity drawn forth by our mere arrival in Calbayog, it was apparent that tourists were not arriving in droves. The rental of this relatively large carinderia space was 1,500 pesos a month (approximately 35 US dollars). Save for us, there were 3 other people eating, all airport personnel. This was not going to be your bustling semi-city.

A handwritten ad for an "open university".

Chicken tinola made with backyard fowl.

Rob ate his chicken tinola-- made with the "native" chickens that are less meaty but make for a tastier broth-- as the waitresses chattered away, giving us suggestion upon suggestion. It was a relaxing atmosphere, sunlight coming through the windows, which were decorated with amazing strung folded pieces of plastic straws and cigarette wrappers, something the women did to keep themselves occupied when there was nothing else to be done.

Handmade decor, repurposed plastic packaging.

Cigarette wrappers and straws, closer.

Repurposed C2 bottles, serving as hanging planters.

I was distracted by the ornamentation of the place. I love carinderia decor because it is honest. I don't mean to sound trite, but the conceptions of beauty are very simple.

The owner of the carinderia is named Ortiz, we gathered.

Eventually, the waitresses told us to go to a certain beach where we could find cheap huts for rent. One of the waitresses took us aside and whispered the standard tricycle price, to prevent us from getting ripped off. As we contracted the services of one tricycle driver (which one diner had hollered for across a hundred feet), all waitresses stood observing, like guardians of the proper fare range. There is no standard fare in Calbayog for anything, by the way. There is only you, the driver, and the moment you are sharing. Speak quickly, and fairly.

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