We need to get the contract signed for the elder’s apartment here in Aloguinsan. Do you want to come?
We had just moved the sisters into their apartment in Aloguinsan. The Zone Leaders had helped us, so now we piled into the pickup for the next item of business. We drove down by the ocean, and up a narrow, but paved, road along the hillside.
I think this is it.
We stopped in front of a red solid metal gate. The elders walked up to the gate and called. No answer. One of them partially opened the gate, stuck his head inside, and called. No answer. Some people walked by and a woman spoke to the elder. He hastily pulled his head back and shut the gate.
She says there are big dogs inside.
We waited. Then the elders called again. Still no one came. They called again. Finally a man opened the gate a little ways, and the elders talked to him. They motioned for us to come, and we entered the gate.
Passing through the gate was like passing into a different world. A quiet shaded path bordered with well planned tropical landscaping curved into the distance. No buildings were in sight until we rounded a curve, where an elegant white stuccoed two-story multiple-gabled mansion with red tile-like roof appeared.
We walked to the porch and called out. A young lady opened the door and motioned us into a dining room off the spacious foyer with parquet flooring of artfully designed variegated woods.. An older woman stood up from a table in the large kitchen and greeted us.
I was just sorting some seeds. They are zinnias. I don’t know if they will grow in this country, but I want to try.
You have a beautiful place here.
Yes, it is beautiful, isn’t it? My daughter wanted me to build this house. She was going to come her to live. But she found someone, and is married now. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is a doctor, a psychiatrist.
The woman walked to a framed picture hanging on the wall.
My husband did this. It is a line drawing done in very fine ink. It is all faded now, but I keep it here because it reminds me of him. He was an orthopedic surgeon. He’s been gone a long time. He died almost sixteen years ago.
This is picture that I painted. The colors are very bright because it is of our sunset over the ocean. We can see the mountains of the island of Negros from here. See the volcano there? It is the highest one. On a clear day the view is spectacular. I can watch the moon at night over the water from my bedroom window.
Now you must eat with me.
No, no, you have to. It is already cooked.
We sat at the dining room table, and the house help graciously placed multiple plates of artfully prepared food in front of us.
The woman unwrapped sweet sticky rice wrapped in a piece of banana leaf.
You must eat this with chocolate. It is from our own trees here.
We sipped the thick, slightly bitter chocolate. It contrasted delightfully with the sweetened rice. We ate slowly, enjoying the company and the beautiful surroundings.
Would you like to see my place?
She led us down the hall from the the foyer. We saw book shelves with many medical books, and an open office area partially overhung with open intricate woodwork in the vaulted ceiling.
I had forty men working for sixteen months on my house.
A small bedroom had a screened balcony with a view of the mountains past. We continued down the hall past a large beautifully tiled Comfort Room (bathroom).We stepped out onto the balcony adjoining the master bedroom to enjoy the quiet lapping of the ocean at the foot of the landscaped slope.
I am going to sell this place. It is just too much for me. I am all alone here. I miss my grandchildren. But when I am in Ohio I worry about my house here. I don’t know what to do. I am asking 12 million pesos. Maybe you would want to buy it?
We wish we could.
As we walked down the drive, she showed us some of her trees.
I have fourteen different kinds of mangos. Over here is the chocolate tree.
She asked the caretaker to climb the tree and get us a ripe pod.
You can suck the fruit off the seeds. Then you let the seeds dry in the sun. When they are ready, you can grind them for the chocolate.
Over here is jack fruit. It is very good to eat. Of course we have coconuts and bananas. And limes.
This plant is called bird’s nest. Do you like plants? I will have the caretaker dig one up for you to take to your home.
Thanks you. It has been a very pleasant afternoon.
Come back any time. I enjoy visiting with you.
It was a moment of joy in our journey.