Thursday, August 12, 2010

Batanes Homestay in a street called Babat!

Marboro Country ||| photo lifted from this site >>>

"It's only five minutes walk from the airport."
"If we hire po a tricyle, magkano po kaya ang pamasahi?"
"The fare is around thirty pesos. Di na lalagpas ng trienta," (Won't exceed thirty pesos) she added.

Basco, the capital of Batanes Province, is a quiet little town that sits in the shadow of an active volcano.

Basco Airport + Mt. Iraya (photo: creative commons)

Basco was a ghost town the morning W and I arrived. The quietude wasn't exactly overwhelming as I thought it would be while we walked along the deserted streets to look for the homestay I fished out in google months before. My phone call minutes earlier was left unanswered so I had to make sense of the information "just look for the house of Doctor......" But the name escapes me. It had been a week since I spoke with the lady over the phone.

Like little poblacions everywhere, Basco is a tight-knit community. Easy does it! The blocks of houses are arranged neatly in a grid. The delightful mix of  traditional Ivatan houses sit alongside the new ones. Old houses made of limestones or corals alternating with a miniature villa plucked from nowhere. 

Does "H" stand for homestay? Ah, there. Hospital! HAHA

"Sa harap ng ospital" (In front of the hospital)
"Anong street po ba 'yon?" (What street is it?)
The lady looked clueless, paused a bit and said "Derecho ka lang," (Go straight) when I asked her for the way to the Abrenilla residence.

What a stupid question, I realized. In a small town, locals don't refer to street names when giving directions. I doubt if they even know those street signs which I saw in every corner ever existed.

"Tao po. Tao po. Nandyan po ba si Mrs. Helen Abrenilla?" I hollered from the gate.

It was a Sunday morning. So, everyone seemed to be still in bed even at nine. A woman,  still groggy from sleep, stood up from a futon laid out in the living room. She escorted us to Babat Street where Mrs. Abrenilla waited.

Tell me how to get, tell me how to get to Babat Street..

A few minutes walk, we met Mrs. Helen Abrenilla, the lady incharge of the homestay and she led us to a concrete house with a green gate. The two-storey affair with four bedrooms would be our home in Basco in a couple of days.

As it turned out, we would have the whole house to ourselves since no other guests were booked that week. We were assigned to a room at the second floor. The room has an easy access to the dining area, toilet and bath, pantry and a verandah the size of the master's bedroom. 

one of the rooms in the homestay

The house is owned by Mrs. Abrenilla's sister-in-law whose family have migrated to the States. The homey atmosphere has retained the working kitchen. The living room has a satellite TV to boot.What more could I ask for? For Php250.00 per person per day, it was a bargain already. Except that the occasional brownout at night made us slept in the verandah--mosquito net and all. Good thing it rained at dawn which made the concrete roof cooler. Otherwise, the Batanes summer would have beaten us all down even before the day started.

down time before biking around the island
 Before Maam Helen left us to our own devices, we had a pleasant conversation about life in her home-province, Batanes--what a better way to set off on day one. Part of the local information was the motorbike rental at the local gas station. And there was more...

Babat St., Basco, 
Batanes homestay 
contact: Mrs. Helen Abrenilla 
at this number: +63921.718.2290 
Just drop my name to get a 0.0001% discount. Nax! Hahaha

next: independent island tour on a rented motorcycle

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